“Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas” Creator Shares Personal PSP Experiences That Inspired Special
Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas creator Austin Winsberg discussed his personal experience with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) that inspired the holiday-themed revival of his show, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
The original show that aired on NBC was inspired by Winsberg’s life after his father’s diagnosis with PSP. In an interview with AFTD, Winsberg said he wanted “the depiction of PSP on the show be incredibly real and true to my own experience.”
The Christmas special deals with Winsberg’s experiences after his father’s passing, and the celebration of their first holiday season without him.
“My dad’s birthday was Christmas Day,” Winsberg shares. “Even though my family was Jewish, we always would open presents on Christmas morning. There was a lot of tradition and family stuff that went on that day, and it was a very weird time that first year, because it felt weird celebrating without him.”
Winsberg says that the streaming service Roku approached him months before the holiday season and asked for a stand-alone Christmas movie that could introduce new fans to the story, while giving existing Zoey fans the resolution the canceled show didn’t have.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, in which the title character’s father was living with PSP, resonated with audiences, receiving deeply positive reception from fans and being recognized with two Emmy nominations.
Winsberg said that he is grateful for the personal story he got to share with audiences, even if the Christmas movie ends up being Zoey’s last outing.
“I just feel like, even though part of it is bittersweet if it is the end, if we didn’t get to fully tell every story we thought we wanted to tell, we definitely got to tell a lot of stories that meant something to me and meant something to other people,” he said.
Winsberg is joined by a number of other people that have used media to share their personal experiences with PSP. Author Ginny Toman shared her family’s story following her father’s PSP diagnosis in the children’s book Always in Your Heart.
Australian reporter Stephanie Boltje recent shared her family’s experiences with her mother’s PSP diagnosis. Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin wrote an essay about being a care partner for his wife after her diagnosis.
Sign up now and stay on top of the latest with our newsletter, event alerts, and more…