Who is Richard Winsberg? At the end of tonight’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist finale, you saw a title card with his name. This was an emotional hour, one marked by the passing of Zoey’s father in the closing minutes after a season-long battle with a neurological disorder. It was a somber end, especially when you consider that this is often a happy, peppy show by and large.
For those who do not know who Richard Winsberg is, the series is inspired in part by creator Austin Winsberg’s experiences with Richard, his father, who battled a similar disease to Peter Gallagher’s character on the show. He passed away back in 2011, and in an interview with the Star-Tribune, Austin spoke about how he was able to channel some of his sense of loss into his writing:
“One day I thought, ‘What if the way that my dad saw the world during that time was through musical numbers?’ And somehow the idea of that made me smile, and it brought a little joy out of something that felt very sad and tragic.”
You can see this finale, and much of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist overall, as a dedication from a son to his late father, and a wonderful way to honor him. As fun as this show has been from this season, there may have been a therapeutic aspect to it for Winsberg. The same could be said for other viewers out there, who were able to relate to Zoey’s sense of fear and loss that she experienced throughout this process. Maybe there is a way for people to imagine having the moments that she had with her own father, expressed through song throughout the first season.
Through this remembrance at the end of the finale, Austin Winsberg is ensuring that his father will be always be linked to this show in a deep and profound way. This also may be a way for viewers to seek out more information and learn more about who he was. It’s a powerful, emotional way to conclude the season, and we’re sure that Richard’s legacy will continue to be felt in the event that the series is renewed for a season 2.
Thank you to Austin Winsberg for allowing us to have this message and this show as an expression of what he has gone through. (Photo: NBC.)
This article was written by Jessica Carter. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.