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Yes, Extended Family Is Based on a True Story: The Real-Life Inspiration, Explained

Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck once called his life "a twisted version of The Brady Bunch or Modern Family." Now, it really is a sitcom.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Life imitates art — and vice versa.

How to Watch

Watch Extended Family Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.

For slam-dunk evidence of that dynamic, check out the bouncy NBC sitcom Extended Family, which mirrors the life of Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who helped inspire the show.

Grousbeck is also a producer of the comedy series about splitting up and happily carrying on, which airs Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.

Extended Family follows the hilarious misadventures of Jim (Two and a Half Mens Jon Cryer) and Julia (Suits’ Abigail Spencer), a cordially divorced couple with kids, along with Julia’s fiancé Trey (ScrubsDonald Faison), who owns the Boston Celtics, which just so happens to be Jim's favorite team.

Clearly, Trey is based on Grousbeck. But who are the real-life Jim and Julia? Here's what we know about the Extended Family inspiration.

Is Extended Family based on a true story?

Yes, Extended Family is based on a true story. It's partially inspired by Boston Celtic owner Wyc Grousbeck.

It turns out that Grousbeck’s wife, Emilia Fazzalari, had a “very amicable divorce a number of years ago” from Celtics fan George Geyer, Grousbeck told Boston Magazine in an interview picked up by celticsblog.com.

The TV show’s creative spark grew out of that situation, along with the fact that the ex-spouses worked overtime to prevent disruptions to their kids' lives.

“They did a thing called nesting,” Grousbeck said. “That’s when you leave the kids in place, in the family home, and then Mom moves in for a week, and Dad moves in the next week.”

The nesting arrangement plays out on the TV series, and you don’t have to look far to imagine the situation can get complicated and pretty kooky at times. That includes when Jim considers going on a date in an upcoming episode. Remember, everybody has a key to the apartment. Oops!

“I said at one family dinner, ‘This is a sitcom,” stated Grousbeck. We’ve got three adults sharing an apartment. Basically, it’s a twisted version of The Brady Bunch or Modern Family.’”

Donald Faison as Trip Schultz, Abigail Spencer as Julia Mariano, and Jon Cryer as Jim Kearney in Extended Family

Grousbeck knew where to go with his observation and for help with developing the idea spawned by his own nutty and amusing life. He consulted with Tom Werner, a Red Sox owner and TV veteran who was behind hits including The Cosby Show and Roseanne, ultimately leading to Extended Family.

Beyond the nesting arrangement that has helped to feather scripts with laugh lines, the fact that Geyer is, in fact, a lifelong Celtics fan, is another element from real life that’s key to the show.

 

RELATED: Everything to Know About Abigail Spencer's Real-Life Family Ahead of the Extended Family Premiere

In the pilot, Trey’s ownership of the Celtics leads Jim to quip to Julia: “Looks like we both met the man of our dreams.” But, according to the Associated Press, Geyer’s very deep Boston connections fostered more mixed emotions.

Trey Jim and Julia on Extended Family Episode 102

“It has to sting, right?” Geyer said in the AP interview. “I’m a Celtics fan and she starts dating the owner of the Celtics? Not to mention being Irish and growing up in Boston and having all my Boston friends — you know how they like to give people a hard time. You can imagine the grief I’ve taken from them as far as my wife being now married to the owner of the Boston Celtics.”

Then again, with the right creative tweaks and takes, life’s challenges can be grist for comedy, and that’s what the series is all about.

Like Grousbeck, Fazzalari, an entrepreneur, and Geyer, who worked in new business development, are producers of Extended Family. They’ve all marveled at watching themselves go from IRL to TV.

“It’s just a crazy feeling,” Grousbeck told AP.

Extended Family airs on Tuesday at 8:30/7:30c on NBC. Episodes will be available to stream the next day on Peacock.