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Extended Family's Cast and Creator Discuss the “Unique” Real-Life Inspiration Behind the Show

The people who inspired Jon Cryer’s new sitcom Extended Familyalso work on the series as executive producers.

By Stephanie Gomulka

Art imitates life on the NBC sitcom Extended Family. The blended family on the show starring Jon Cryer, Donald Faison, and Abigail Spencer is based on Boston Celtics' own Wyc Grousbeck’s family.

How to Watch

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

“Wyc married a woman, Emilia Fazzalari, who’s a very successful, you know, she’s CEO of Cincoro Tequila Company and she was previously married to a guy named George Geyer, who’s a very funny guy from Boston,” showrunner and actor Mike O’Malley explained to NBC Insider. “Their real life was the premise for this show.”

Grousbeck, Fazzalari, and Geyer even join Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner as executive producers on the show.

O’Malley, along with Cryer and Faison, dove into some behind-the-scenes details with NBC Insider about how they tackled bringing the family’s real dynamics to the screen.

How the Real-Life Inspirations Behind Extended Family Helped Create the Show

O’Malley initially met with Grousbeck to talk about the sitcom idea and was intrigued by the Boston Celtics connection, as he is a big fan of the team. 

RELATED: Who Is the Real Owner of the Boston Celtics? All About the Man Who Helped Inspire Extended Family

Close up of Mike O'Malley

“What would happen if you divorce your wife … and then she starts dating the owner of your favorite team?” O’Malley asked. “This is literally what happened in George’s life.”

Faison portrays the character Grousbeck is based on, who is named Trey on the show. He’s the owner of the Celtics on Extended Family as well and happens to fall in love with PR crisis manager Julia (played by Spencer). 

“It’s awesome because I have seen a few really high-profile basketball games as of late,” Faison mused.

“That’s a big plus,” Cryer quickly added in.

(Faison actually attended a Celtics game with his family this past January, even posting an adorable picture on instagram.)

In addition to using Celtics games for some fun storylines, at its core, Extended Family explores the relatable antics of co-parenting with your ex or coming in as a new partner for someone already raising their own kids.  

O’Malley found Geyer’s and Fazzalari’s approach to raising their kids to be “unique.”

“They understood that the marriage had ended, that they were better off not being together, but they were trying to have it be the least disruptive that it could be to their own lives, to their kids’ lives,” O’Malley about the relationship which inspires the show. “They decided that the inconvenience of having to come and go would be something that the parents would do.”

Trey Jim and Julia on Extended Family episode 108

Cryer’s character, Jim, is based on Geyer. 

“He’s actually been in the writer’s room with us, for a lot of the time, helping to sort of get a handle on his sense of humor and how he and Emilia … his ex-wife, how they get along, has been really fascinating to me to watch because they give each other constant sh-t,” Cryer said. “They’ve been through the fire, you know, so now they’re fox hole buddies.”

The exes have been able to rediscover a friendship together after their divorce, Cryer observed. 

“The war is long over,” Cryer said, adding the real friendship between them is for the show. It's allowing these people to still have issues with each other all the time, but also there’s that kernel of love.”

Faison acknowledged Emilia and George’s ability to carve a positive path forward isn’t always the case with divorced couples with kids.

“There’s something special about someone who can have an argument with you and then the very next day, drop it and still wanna have that friendship,” Faison said. “These guys have figured it out, you know? They figured out a way. Like, if you watch Emilia and George, she laughs so hard at his jokes and somebody asked her, 'Did you laugh like this when you were married?' And she she was like, 'No, it wasn’t until the divorce he became funny.'"

To check out some of the hilarious situations the family members get into on the show, watch new episodes of Extended Family on Tuesdays at 8:30/7:30c on NBC, and the next day on Peacock.