13 Crucial Life Lessons from Zoey 101

Jesus tapdancing Christ, y’all. Hold onto your hats because I have the best news in the world.




For those of you who haven’t spent half of your life obsessing over Zoey 101, let me give you a quick rundown of the situation. On September 18, 2005, the episode “Time Capsule” was released, in which Zoey made a DVD of herself talking about all her friends at PCA and put it into a time capsule. Chase considered opening it but didn’t because he felt it was wrong, and she said he could watch it in ten years.



On September 18th of this year, Dan Schneider released a video with Michael and Chase and some rando named Alyssa who is alarmingly Zoey-esque. Chase was literally about to propose to this girl (even though he called her Zo right before he started) but Michael burst in and stopped it, telling him that he had dug up the time capsule and watched the video.



Since no one in the restaurant has a DVD player (although one weirdo has a VCR on him), Michael just tells us what she said: “And now I wanna tell you about one of the most special people I’ve ever met. His name is Chase Matthews. And he’s one of the funniest, coolest, nicest guys in the world. Sometimes, I kinda think he has a little crush on me, but other times, I kinda think he just wants to be friends. All I know for sure is, Chase is really special to me, and who knows, maybe he’s even my soul mate.”


Bye, Alyssa!

But why do people care about this? Why, ten years later, was Dan Schneider able to release this video with the confidence that people would lose their goddamn minds over it and binge-watch the series all over again? I’ll tell you why– Zoey 101 was a seminal part of a lot of people’s lives, including mine. It came out at a time when most of us were worried about things that the PCA gang was going through– relationships, friendships, insecurities, and change. Zoey 101 taught us a lot about life, but here are the 13 most important lessons that we still use today.

1. How to deal with weird roommates

After Dana disappears to Paris for a foreign exchange program “for the semester” (and never comes back), Zoey and Nicole get a new roommate named Lola. She has spiky white hair, lights candles, speaks in tongues and gives herself piercings in the room.


Not joking.

She’s edgier than your middle school diary, and understandably, she causes some tension in the suite. They avoid her for quite a while, but eventually they go back to confront her and see her in normal clothes, chatting on the phone about how she was such a good actress because she managed to fool them. Dick move, right? Even though you’re unlikely to be in the EXACT same situation, this still shows you that the best way to handle suite problems is just to be direct. If ANYONE knows that passive aggression doesn’t work, it’s me.


Don’t… don’t ask me why.

2. How to deal with sexism

As any self-respecting fan of Zoey 101 would know, the first year that Zoey and her friends started going to PCA is the first year that girls were allowed there. As such, many attitudes on campus towards girls are a little… backwards.


This basically sums up the entire first season.

Logan is the main antagonist and perpetuator of sexist ideals, with such tasteful and well-thought-out arguments as:

  • Girls like stupid movies
  • Girls shouldn’t be at PCA
  • Girls can’t play basketball
  • Girls don’t have the “killer instinct” needed to win contests
  • Girls don’t belong in political office they’re too emotional
  • Straight-up saying that males are better

While he’s not the only one (Neil, Andrew and Wayne don’t let Quinn into the Science Club just because she’s a girl), he’s the worst one and the most entrenched in his opinions. He’s also obnoxiously rich, which may remind some of you of people you’ve met here.


People like this.

But the girls continue to show them time and time again that they’re just as good as him, including the triumphant moment when Quinn’s robot literally made the Science Club’s robot explode in the robot fight. Persistence is key, ladies.

3. How to care without being overbearing

Zoey’s little brother also goes to PCA with her, and she’s understandably protective of him.


Wouldn’t you be when he looks like this?

Her protection of him gets to be too much sometimes, though, like when he wanted to date a “bad girl” and she kept trying to tell him what to do. It’s perfectly fine to love your siblings and friends, but by trying to prevent them from ever having a bad experience, you’re preventing them from growing. Let everyone make their own mistakes.

4. Don’t let competition ruin your friendships

Since this show is about middle and high schoolers, there are going to be competitions that pit the friends against each other– the Jet-X competition, the basketball game, the Miss PCA pageant, Gender Defenders, etc.


I wasn’t joking about that, either.

Every time they promise not to let the competition get in the way of their friendship; every time, something goes wrong and they fight; and every time, they make up. The episodic nature of these conflicts doesn’t detract from their learning value– a real friendship should be strong enough to weather a little friendly competition, and you have to keep your priorities in mind when you’re up against your friends.


It is no laughing matter.

5. How to mediate conflicts between friends

PCA’s rooms are nice, but even L-Dub doesn’t force three people to live in one room at a time. That kind of living situation is very conducive to stress–it’s hard enough to force two people to have synchronous schedules, much less three.

Two funny angry girls. One of them strangle to other. Studio shot.

Artist’s rendering of freshman housing.

When Dana’s lack of cleanliness, Nicole’s early-morning blow-dry regimen and Zoey’s constantly forgetting her key put everyone on edge, they compromised. Nicole got a silent hair dryer, Zoey started wearing her key around her neck, and they installed a screen to pull down in front of Dana’s bunk that had a picture of a clean, empty bed on it. Life is about compromise, and with friends and loved ones most of all.

6. Being yourself is always good enough for the right people

Insecurity is an inevitable part of life. No matter how much someone might love themselves, there’s been a point in their lives where they’ve had their doubts. Quinn struggled with this for a long time– her propensities to touch people’s food to get an aura from it and to do things like put South African guppies up her nose to prevent her from snoring didn’t exactly put her at the top of the popularity chart.


Maybe she should’ve worn more pink.

Her friends made fun of her for being a geek, but they apologized profusely–they liked her how she was, and realized that they were the ones in the wrong. She even tried to become a new person to get her ex back, but she and everyone else knew it just wasn’t right. People for whom you have to pretend to be something you’re not aren’t the right people to have in your life, as easy as it might be to try to justify it.


Also, people who ask for a plain potato and a napkin aren’t the right people either.

7. Don’t stand for censorship

Chase and Michael had a show ingenuously called “The Chase & Michael Show”, which stirred up some controversy on campus when Zoey and Logan started arguing in the back about the two sexes and their taste in movies. People were arguing all over campus the next day, and Dean Rivers shut that shit down faster than health inspectors in Saybrook.


Never forget.

Once people began protesting that the censorship of the show was unfair, he let it back on the air. Controversy is okay, and hearing things you don’t like is part of life. It’s time to learn that now if you haven’t already. Just because you don’t agree with something someone says doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to say it.

Portrait of President George Washington

First amendment, bitches.

8. You CAN stay friends with someone after dating them doesn’t work out

In what was quite possibly the most unnecessary subplot ever, Lola and Chase very briefly dated. True fans of the show–and by that I mean die-hard fans of Zoey and Chase–were understandably perturbed by this turn of events, and thankfully, so were Chase and Zoey.


They really had me scared for a moment there.

It became pretty evident to the both of them that this relationship was meant to be nothing more than platonic, and they accepted it and moved on. There’s nothing wrong with realizing that someone’s role in your life isn’t meant to be a romantic one. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid them for the rest of your life!

9. Make the best of compromised travel plans

When Quinn’s artificial coconut scent (again, not kidding) makes everyone pass out and be late for the bus to Mystic Beach after exams, they all decide to take a cab and meet up with the rest of the school. They get there, though, and the beach is empty– they went the wrong direction and are now stranded an hour away from campus with, of course, no cell reception.

A model showing ancient cavemen stands inside the National Museum of Mongolian History in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Aug. 12, 2009. The museum preserves the Mongolian cultural heritage. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nathan McCord/Released)

Basically this.

Even though they’re pretty distressed at first, they decide that they’ve already lost the chance to do what they planned to do and that being sad about it won’t get them anywhere. They make the best of it– they dance, swim, play football, and cook some fish. Eventually they manage to get back to school, but only after they’ve decided to go back to the private beach every year. Their fall break plans fall through as well and they end up having the whole campus to themselves, which actually turns out to be a lot of fun. Plans can go astray, but that doesn’t mean that they have to ruin any chance for having fun.


Turn down for what?

10. How to deal with overly-possessive significant others

All of Chase’s early attempts to tell Zoey he loves her were foiled–people keep interrupting them, he deletes his first text to her, and his second text to her goes through and causes it to vibrate and fall into the fountain, ruining her phone. He takes this as a sign that perhaps they’re just meant to be friends, and he starts to date some awful hag named Rebecca.



Zoey, of course, has feelings for Chase, but because she’s a wonderful person, she respects their  boundaries and steps aside. This isn’t enough for Rebecca, though, because she sucks. She threatens Zoey to stay away from Chase and tells Chase that he can’t be friends with Zoey anymore, so he kicks her ass to the curb like yesterday’s trash.

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And literally nobody cared.

Even if the reason you’re dumping your significant other isn’t because she wants you to stay away from the love of your life, it’s still really uncool for them to try to force you to choose between themselves and others in your life. Unless the people they’re trying to have you give up are really toxic and it’s truly in your  best interest, that kind of behavior is a huge red flag.

11. Being the best isn’t the most important thing in the world

Quinn was undisputedly the best scientist at PCA until Paige Howard came. Paige was the first person she had ever met who presented a serious challenge to her in her best subject. It broke her spirit and the prospect of not being able to be the best at her biggest strength made her want to give it up altogether.


Me, when I met a Canadian Spelling Bee champion last year.

Yalies experience this a lot. Most of us were the best at one thing or another in high school, and coming here was like being doused in cold water. But just as Paige and Quinn learned that working together and being humble makes everything better, so must we. Not being the best doesn’t mean that your contributions aren’t worthwhile and meaningful, so just chill out and do your thing.


You are.

12. Don’t let other people’s thoughts about you get in the way of you having fun

It’s hard not to care about what other people think. As much fun as it might be to wear sweatpants every day, the risk of other people thinking you’re a slob or a lazy laundry-avoider is one that most people don’t want to take.


Pictured: yours truly

When Quinn and Logan began secretly dating, they were both mortified to be in a relationship with each other. They both felt like they had reputations to uphold– Quinn was too smart to be dating someone like Logan, and Logan was too cool to be dating someone like Quinn, so they had to sneak around, making out in bushes and dancing in janitor’s closets even though they both hated it. Live your life how you want to live it, folks. At the end of the day, as long as you aren’t hurting anybody, your happiness is what matters.


13. True love is hard, but it’s real!!!

This is the clearest and most important lesson from the show… that got, at least.


I may or may not have based my relationship standards on Zoey and Chase.

The most meaningful relationships in the show suffered through some severe difficulties. Chase and Zoey tried and tried to tell each other how they felt for years but life kept getting in the way, and when they finally did reveal their feelings to each other it was basically too late.



Quinn got her heart broken and then she and Logan had to hide their relationship from everyone even though they made each other so happy. Coco dropped some cans of ravioli that time.

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She loved her some ravioli.

 If Zoey 101 taught us anything about love, it’s to never give up hope. Chase literally went to another continent for a year, during which Zoey dated someone else exclusively. But when the end of the year rolled around, she realized that something was missing… but what was it? Perhaps James’ shirts weren’t plaid enough, or his hair wasn’t bushy enough, or he didn’t fall off his bicycle enough. Whatever the case may be, Chase came back and they FINALLY KISSED AFTER THE FOUR MOST SUSPENSEFUL YEARS OF MY LIFE.



Something happened in the meantime though, and somehow their paths diverged… maybe they went to different colleges? I don’t know, and quite frankly I don’t care, because none of that matters now. All that matters is that true love is alive, and also