If you watched the Season 2 premiere of Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist last night, you probably found yourself grieving for one of the show's best characters, Joan (Zoey's boss). Joan, who's played by Lauren Graham, is leaving because she's learned she has to move to Singapore in order to take charge of the Asian division of the company. Basically, it was an abrupt way to learn that Lauren Graham has left the show IRL.
But has she left for good? It's not super clear, but it sounds like she left on good terms, and that there's a possibility for her return.
Why did Lauren Graham leave 'Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist'?
Although Lauren Graham's character, Joan, leaves Zoey's because her character has to move to Singapore for work, show creator Austin Winsberg revealed that the show had to write Joan off the show because of a scheduling conflict on Lauren's end. Because of production delays (due to COVID-19) for Disney+'s The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, which Lauren is starring in and is producing, the actress couldn't do both Mighty Ducks and Zoey's. However, Austin has stated that he'd love to have Lauren back on the show, especially since Joan was meant to be in all of Season 2.
"I would have loved to have had more of her in Season 2. Unfortunately, the character of Joan was a victim of COVID scheduling. Lauren had committed to doing another show that was supposed to be done shooting by the time we went into production. But the pandemic changed all of that and both shows ended up shooting at the same time. So, there was just no way for her to do both," Austin told The Hollywood Reporter.
He asserted that Lauren is always welcome back on the show, saying, "However, the door is always open for Lauren and Joan to return, and nothing would make me happier than having her back. Lauren and Jane have such a great rapport when they are playing off of each other. And I feel very fortunate that we were able to get her at all."
Unfortunately, it sounds like at least some of Season 2 had to be reworked, due to Lauren's departure. "Joan was going to be in a lot of the episodes... We had to adjust multiple episodes because of it. If COVID had not happened we would've been golden because that show was supposed to shoot from March through June or July, and we were starting up in September, so it would have been fine. But then the schedules happened at the exact same time and there was no way to make it work," Austin explained.
So, yeah, you can blame COVID-19 for Joan's departure from Zoey's. Lauren herself tweeted, "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. xL."
Watch Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist every Tuesday on NBC at 8 p.m. EST. We'll miss you, Lauren.