Tuesday saw the season two premiere of NBC musical dramedy Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and the departure of Lauren Graham’s (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) character Joan from the series. Showrunner Austin Winsberg (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Gossip Girl) told TVLine that he had plans for Graham’s character in the show’s sophomore season, but unfortunately had to “step-pivot” when COVID-19 caused the production to overlap with the actress’ work on Disney+’s upcoming Mighty Ducks series.
“When Lauren had signed on to do [Disney+’s] Mighty Ducks [reboot], they were supposed to start shooting in March,” Winsberg elaborated with TVLine “and they were going to be done well in advance so that she could be back for season two.” This is unfortunate news for fans of Graham’s Joan, who served as both boss and mentor to protagonist Zoey. Jane Levy (Suburgatory, Evil Dead) plays the series title character, who works for Joan at fictional tech company SPRQ Point and can hear people’s inner monologues through song-and-dance numbers.
Please watch the first episode of @ZoeysPlaylist tonight! Joan is only there for a wee moment (plans to do more thwarted by pandemic-related scheduling issues), but I’m so excited to watch the incredible @jcolburnlevy and company. xLhttps://t.co/9klEicHMCR
— Lauren Graham (@thelaurengraham) January 6, 2021
Just before Tuesday’s premiere, Graham broke the news to fans on Twitter that the episode would be her last due to scheduling issues. In her brief scene in Tuesday’s episode, Joan informs Zoey that she will be promoted and transferred to an office in Singapore. The two character’s share an emotional farewell in which they exchange tears and well wishes.
There are big changes underway for both Joan and Zoey. pic.twitter.com/lE2vAa21c7
— Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist (@ZoeysPlaylist) January 6, 2021
Season one of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist ended with Zoey losing her father, played by Peter Gallagher (The O.C., Covert Affairs), making the departure of Joan even more devastating for the character. “She’s lost two pivotal people who guided her,” Levy told Vulture “we’re going to see her struggle with that.”
“I think if I watched the show and I was not a part of it,” Levy continued with Vulture “I think Joan might have been my favorite character. She’s so weird and kind of unhinged, but the relationship between her and Zoey is so sweet.” While Graham’s musical numbers and mentorship will be missed, Levy indicated that the door will remain open for Graham’s return to Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist if schedules are more permitting in the future, via Vulture.