Warning: This story comprises spoilers from Sunday’s season finale of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist capped off a unprecedented first season with a finale that was emotional, gut-wrenching and devastating, and but stuffed with hope and optimism for the longer term. That tonal stability has been the key sauce to NBC’s pleasant musical dramedy, which left us with all of the feels after Sunday’s tear-jerker of a closing episode, when it mentioned goodbye to Zoey’s dad, Mitch (Peter Gallagher), who succumbed to the uncommon degenerative mind illness, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

A giant query for the collection, ought to NBC renew it for a second season, might be simply how the Clarke household strikes on with out the household lynchpin round. What is going to Maggie’s (Mary Steenburgen) life appear to be with out Mitch? How will Zoey (Jane Levy) transfer on from shedding her largest champion? What is going to this imply for David (Andrew Leeds) and Emily (Alice Lee), who’re anticipating their first child any day now? “That is an enormous idea and an enormous concept for season two, which is, how will we transfer on?” creator Austin Winsberg tells ET. “How will we reside and what does the brand new regular appear to be after the one that was so vital and so integral in our life is gone?”

Whereas the crux of the episode revolved round Mitch’s last hours and the wake, there have been different huge strikes made, from Zoey seemingly selecting Max (Skylar Astin) over Simon (John Clarence Stewart) to Joan (Lauren Graham) quickly promoted to move of SPRQ Level to Max’s unsure skilled future. Following the finale, ET spoke with Winsberg concerning the season’s last episode, if Gallagher will return for a possible second season, whether or not the love triangle is really completed, pulling off the ultimate seven-minute musical quantity that is all one take and what the following chapter of Zoey’s seems like.

ET: What did you wish to accomplish on this last episode of the season? 

Austin Winsberg: I felt an enormous strain on this episode to honor my dad, and in addition be true to the expertise of what we went by, particularly on the very finish. A hospice employee got here to our home at 4 o’clock on the day my dad died and mentioned, “He’ll die at present,” after which left. We had been scrambling, left to our personal units; a number of family and friends members got here by to say goodbye earlier than he handed. We had this dwelling vigil going for him for a number of hours and I at all times needed to have that point with the household, individuals saying their goodbyes and what the top seems like and felt like in my home, to be an enormous a part of the present. 

Initially, the entire episode was going to happen over the course of the vigil. After we began breaking it, it simply felt very unhappy and it felt like Zoey wasn’t essentially the most proactive, and it did not really feel like an episode of the present. I felt like we wanted to nonetheless present some stuff at work. We would have liked to nonetheless discover a number of the love triangle. We would have liked to, not essentially wrap up however not less than begin to shift gears and take issues into completely different instructions, so we may see the place storylines may go in season two.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

NBC

What was the pondering behind Don McLean’s “American Pie” being the ultimate tune of the season?

Initially, “American Pie” was going to be Act 4, then it was going to be Act 5. But it surely felt very arduous to maneuver past that. When you obtain that second when he passes and also you do “American Pie,” the whole lot else felt like a coda. By pushing “American Pie” to the top, and by making it actually really feel like a musical finale second for the season, that allowed us to have the primary half of the episode be lighter and extra comedic and romantic, after which get into the true emotion of it for the second half. 

What was the problem in ensuring the scenes the place Zoey and the household are saying goodbye to Mitch nonetheless felt tonally Zoey’s however had been uplifting in the long run? 

The problem was not making all of it really feel too unhappy and never making it really feel like we had been performing some sort of miserable, emotional porn for the episode, the place it was simply beating everyone’s heads with the disappointment of it. A part of that was calibrating the songs, what songs we ought to be doing and what the songs ought to really feel like. There are loads of actually unhappy songs on the market and there are loads of songs about demise and mourning. I did not need the episode to reside in that disappointment the entire time. 

The opposite vital factor was to be sure that the present felt a point of hope and optimism. The factor that I attempted to remove with some perspective and distance with my father, was to attempt to eradicate a number of the emotions of anger and disappointment and despair about it, and to attempt to discover some positivity or mild. When Zoey provides her speech to her dad at his bedside, it’s the actual parallel of the speech that she provides within the pilot for her dad earlier than he sings “True Colours,” solely within the pilot she’s speaking about the whole lot unfavourable in her life. She’s speaking about this scary energy she has, she’s speaking concerning the man at work who would not like her, she’s speaking concerning the work stuff not going effectively. Within the inverse of that, she’s now speaking about how she thinks these new musical powers and skills would possibly really be serving to her and the way she’s really doing effectively at work and the man who she had a crush on likes her again. And she or he tells her father that she’s really OK. By exhibiting him her extra constructive outlook now, that is the permission that he wants to maneuver on.

In an earlier dialog we had, you alluded to the truth that Mitch’s presence will nonetheless be felt in season two. Is the plan to have Peter Gallagher again or do you assume Mitch’s chapter is finished?

I would prefer to have him come again ultimately. I believe it is nearly, in what artistic method does it really feel true and genuine to the present and may we do it? We’ve got had dream sequences on the present. I do not wish to go so far as Dexter or Six Toes Below, the place the dad is visiting her and commenting on a regular basis as a result of I really feel like we have already got our huge magical machine within the present. However I do assume that there are methods and alternatives to cleverly have him come again. There are alternatives and methods to carry him again now and again as a presence on the present, for positive.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

NBC

This clearly is an enormous pivot level for the household and the ultimate picture that we’re left with is them sitting collectively after the wake, simply being in one another’s presence. How do you foresee the household altering with out their lynchpin there?

Yeah, I believe that is an enormous idea and an enormous concept for season two, which is, how will we transfer on? And the way will we reside and what does the brand new regular appear to be after the one that was so vital and so integral in our life is gone? From my mother having to return into the true world once more and having to be impartial after being with the identical man for 40-some years, I believe Maggie may go on an analogous journey of self-exploration. I grew to become a father proper once I was shedding my father, so all the emotions and feelings and problems that go together with that for David and Emily. After which Zoey, equally, having to select about, “What does his demise imply to me? How do I extract that means from his demise? What sort of particular person do I wish to be now?,” and all the struggles and challenges that go together with that. It was very a lot on function that the ultimate picture is simply them on the sofa, apart from the empty area the place Dad at all times sat. You’re nonetheless going to really feel the load of his absence going ahead. 

How did the seven-minute, one-take last sequence come collectively?

It was positively difficult. The thought really began throughout episode t after we had been filming “I’ve Obtained the Music in Me” and I used to be speaking to our producing director Adam Davidson, and he mentioned to me, “What if there was a complete act that was only one musical quantity?” After which we began excited about, “Nicely, what songs really lend themselves to that?” And there is not a ton of lengthy songs on the market between “Resort California” and Pink Floyd. I remembered that “American Pie” was really my dad’s favourite tune, so I sort of carried that concept with me all season and would not it’s cool to do one thing huge like that?

I do not keep in mind the precise second after we landed on that as our huge finale second. However I liked the concept of bringing everyone into the identical home and bringing everyone into the scene and having all of our characters sing collectively, in the identical method that loads of huge stage musicals finish with the entire solid on stage doing the large last quantity. It was incorporating the actors into it, after which it was incorporating all the manufacturing crew into it as a result of the quantity takes place over a number of hours, which isn’t like anything we ever do on the present, in order that needed to inform lighting. We began off with 75 extras in the home, however by the top there have been solely 4 individuals, in order that was an enormous factor. We needed to work with the set decorators and manufacturing designers on all the craft and meals parts that bought moved round, and it actually grew to become a 120-, 150-person factor that we had been all engaged on on the identical time.

Let’s speak about Zoey’s love life. It appeared like she picked Max in the long run, however Simon continues to be within the image. Are you able to give us the state of the love triangle on the finish of the season? 

Zoey and Max actually had an enormous breakthrough, in that they lastly had some kind of bodily end result of the whole lot that is been happening. I believe that Max has spent a very long time being Zoey’s finest pal and being there for her, and perhaps slightly bit missing in confidence or his personal sense of self. By him leaving and going to the sixth ground and getting success in that world, and getting his personal sense of validation, after which in the end, within the episode, telling Zoey he did not need the job again, that he needed to look ahead, that was the alternative of what had been happening with Simon all season, which was loads of wanting backwards. I believe Zoey could be very drawn to this new aspect of Max, the place she’s seeing him in a brand new method, that he is coming into his personal confidence exterior of their friendship. And so, I believe that Max has made himself, perhaps inadvertently, right into a extra engaging and worthy suitor for Zoey.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

NBC

And Zoey continues to have this deep connection and bond to Simon. It was vital to make each males viable, to not villainize one or the opposite and to know that each of them have completely different dynamics and relationships with Zoey they usually carry various things to the desk. I believe that is actual in life. Going ahead, she’s going to proceed to see the worth in each. This may be disappointing to some individuals, however I needed to have it’s ongoing, that there is not essentially a clear-cut reply but. However that these are two males she cares about. In the intervening time, it actually looks as if there’s some stuff to be mentioned and unfinished enterprise between her and Max. However I additionally assume that Simon is beginning to do work on himself too, in ways in which’s going to make him proceed to be a worthy adversary.

So Zoey and Max, no matter they’re within the finale, that is not the be-all end-all? Like, they don’t seem to be essentially going to embark on some kind of unique relationship or take it to the following stage?

We’re going to proceed to see the methods wherein that dynamic with Max continues to evolve and shock and alter. It has been attention-grabbing to look at all of the Twitter response and all of the Max followers. A number of these exhibits which have nice love tales, they do not get collectively immediately. Whether or not they’re endgame or not, I really feel like a few of it’s concerning the journey and the way will we get to these locations? These are characters who nonetheless have rather a lot to determine and loads of errors to make. Zoey is actually going to be uncooked after her dad’s demise and perhaps not in a spot to be prepared for The One but. However I believe that there’s a lot to be mined out of each of these relationships going ahead.

Max would not take the job again at SPRQ Level. What’s his skilled future? Do you have got a spot in thoughts for him in season two?

Completely. I’ve an entire season two plan about what occurs with Max and work, and what meaning, and the way that informs his character, what he does, the those that he interacts with and the methods wherein it helps or complicates Zoey’s life too.

Joan takes over SPRQ Level. What does that imply for her overseeing the whole firm, versus simply managing a workforce?

It actually places her in an even bigger energy place throughout the firm and I believe basically what it does is, it modifications the dynamics of the fourth ground. As a result of now there’s going to need to be someone else that fills in her spot on the fourth ground. There’s going to be all types of latest dynamics on the fourth ground and in that bullpen, each with Max being gone and Joan in a better place. It is a chance to essentially combine issues up there and alter established dynamics in enjoyable and thrilling methods for season two.

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

NBC

Introducing a brand new character, maybe?

Yeah. Maybe some shuffling, maybe just a few new characters. I’ve an entire bunch of concepts for that.

You’ve already pitched season two to NBC, however how are you feeling a couple of renewal? 

I am cautiously optimistic. We’ve got loads of inner love and assist at NBC. They have been so nice with the present from minute one and actually allowed the present to be my imaginative and prescient, which is so uncommon for community tv. I am so appreciative of how a lot artistic freedom they gave me and I believe that they only have to, throughout this corona time, work out when productions can return to work and what number of exhibits are they going to wish and what’s all of it going to appear to be? So I believe they’re figuring all of it out proper now. However between the interior assist, the exterior assist from our actually nice enthusiastic fan base, all of the media consideration we’re getting for this present, it would not really feel like we’re prepared for it to be over but. They usually actually responded to my season two pitches effectively, so I really feel like there’s loads of artistic fuel left within the present and it is arduous to think about it simply ending.

If season two does occur, would there be a time leap? 

Yeah, I believe it will be arduous to choose up proper after Mitch’s demise, as a result of the emotion of that might simply be slightly too uncooked and never enable us to perhaps do all of the tonal stability stuff that I like. Some passage of time would most likely be an excellent factor for the present.

The first season of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is streaming now on Hulu.

To remain updated on breaking TV information, join ET’s day by day publication.

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