“What Did Zoey Say?” Perfectly Encapsulates the Psychotic Nature of Teen Romance Dramas

Remember that show Zoey 101? It was a teen comedy starring a cast of quirky friends hanging out at an academy, hopping between campuses and getting into wacky hijinks. There was also a lot of relationship drama between the titular Zoey and her chump friend Chase. It was basically a college hangout show starring highschoolers targeted at tweens. It was fine for what it was, but it carries that distinct stench of tween-comedy hokeyness that’s difficult to ignore and even harder to shake after viewing. Nonetheless, something very peculiar happened with the show recently.

Around 10 years ago when the show was still on the air, there was an episode where everyone buried something in a time capsule to dig up later. Our lead Zoey dug up a video recorded message about her time at their school and it included her thoughts on Chase. The plot of the episode was about Chase’s obsession with what Zoey said about him because he’s a total schmuck that’s in love with her. He actually digs the time capsule back up, slaps the recording into a DVD player but then backs out because he decided he wanted to respect her wishes in the end. 10 years later, and Dan Schneider (the show’s creator) releases a follow up to that plotline:

You watch it yet? Good. Wasn’t that video just insanely delightful? The idea that Chase’s best friend (I know him only by that title) would travel all that way to dig up something that should be so trivial to him especially is amazingly dumb. The intention of this series followup is to be ridiculous, with Chase immediately breaking up an almost-engagement over the notion that his highschool crush from a decade ago may have liked him back at some point. It’s just brilliant but at the same time, really resonant with a lot of the crap you see in movies and TV shows.

I’ve always thought that the concept of having a “soulmate” or “the one” is kind of a destructive one. This idea that everyone has one shot at love with a specific person is just toxic, yet it’s treated as admirable in just about every romantic comedy out there. That kind of thought process is dangerous to have when a significant other decides to sever your attachment to them, or even worse, when that attachment only existed as a one-sided perception. “The one that got away” is a romance trope that has existed for as long as people have told stories about love. Your other half that’s floating around out there for you to just snatch up is a swell thought, but it rings false. You’ll never be able to tell what the other person is really thinking and you’ll never really know if you’ll stay with each other if you get together. Holding out for that “one special someone” for several years isn’t love, but an unhealthy fixation on an idea of a person (that almost certainly contradicts the reality). Being able to move on from an all-consuming obsession isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather something that show’s strength of character and confidence in one’s self.

Releasing this video as a continuation of a show that people were just about ready to forget about is amusing on its own, but lampshading psychotic behaviour that would have been looked at as positive in so many other stories really elevates it. Fans like to play around with dark reimaginings of shows they liked as kids by mostly just throwing sex and violence into them. This video from the actual creator of the show managed to create something a lot darker without so much as uttering a single profanity. It’s almost a testament to his understanding of the warped genre he generally writes for.

If there is a continuation of this, I’d really love to see things get uncomfortably creepy with Chase’s inevitable reunion with Zoey. As a kid, the idea of them losing touch almost seemed unthinkable, but now it just seems like the natural progression of things. Hopefully Chase’s sudden re-entry into her life is as awkward/horrifying as I want it to be.

Quote of the day:

“I’m in love with her, okay? If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want, no matter how much it destroys you, it’s love, and when you love someone, you just, you don’t stop, ever. Even when people roll their eyes or call you crazy. Even then. Especially then. You just… you don’t give up! Because if I could give up. if I could just, you know, take the whole world’s advice and move on and find someone else, that wouldn’t be love. That would be, that would be some other disposable thing that is not worth fighting for.”

– Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother.

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