I don’t know how this show slipped by me. Multiple people begged me to watch it and I didn’t. The original reviews were not terrible and the positive elements happen to feature aspects of the show that speak directly to my inner TV/Movie nerd. I mean, it’s a show about a Jewish family growing up just outside of Philadelphia in the 1980s–based on a Adam F. Goldberg’s real life experiences. He went to the same camp as me (sort of) for crying out loud! But here I am, having just binged watched three and a half seasons of what is now one of my favorite sitcoms on TV.
It was a dark and stormy Wednesday night in January and I was alone in my New York City Harlem apartment. As I delicately sipped on my whiskey on the rocks while furiously writing my newest novel, I had the overwhelming urge to take a break. So I flipped on the midweek rerun machine: the TV. Of course, what else was I going to do. It’s my MO. There, right in front of me, was the cold opening of a show that I had ignored for too long, “The Goldbergs.” From the first two minutes, I was hooked. It didn’t matter that it was a third season episode, I felt as if I’d know these crazy whippersnappers forever. Immediately after that episode was over, I started my marathoning journey via our friends at Hulu.
I’m now obsessed with this show. I can’t help it. Murray (Jeff Garlin), Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Erica (Hayley Orrantia), Barry (Troy Gentile), Adam (Sean Giambrone), and Pops (George Segal) all feel like family at this point. Let’s face it, growing up Jewish in the metropolitan area, I can see qualities of both my actual family and friends in every single character. From the relationship of the three siblings to each other, their friends, and parents, this show hit home pretty hard. It’s more thoughtful and belly laughingly funnier than any of the other family-based sitcoms on any station right now.
I really want to say that Adam’s actual home videos are the star of this show, but that would be a complete lie. They make the overall viewing experience feel more personal, as it’s nice to think you’re watching a version of revisionist history. Obviously the videos infuse another layer of humor into every plot and character moment, but when it comes down to it Wendi McLendon-Covey’s Beverly “sMother” Goldberg is one of the best people/characters/things/stuff/anything on TV right now. Nobody makes me laugh harder and it’s not even the over the top moments that make her the quintessential Jewish overprotective, overbearing mother: a sMother. In the detail of her character (and in all the characters, really) is where the true nuggets of brilliance lie. The sweaters, the way she can change emotion on a dime, side looks, the way she sits down, scrapbooks, her made up words to show affection, and the specificity of her threats are so ingrained in my being even before I met this person. It’s what happens when you grow up in an environment similar to what’s being depicted. It’s offensive that Julie Bowen is continually nominated for Claire Dunphy on “ Modern Family” when McLendon-Covey’s Bev is the greater achievement.
All jokes surrounding Barry’s (aka Big Tasty’s) stupidity and heartfelt demeanor are always a crowd pleaser. (And his running arms.) Murr-man’s pants habit? Hilarious. How quickly Bev can get things done? Always a belly laugh. Covering up Sean Giambrone’s puberty, while highlighting Adam’s awkwardness by making fun of him (and essentially giving him less screen time)? Fantastic. Erica’s fights with her brothers and mother couldn’t be written and executed with more realism. George Segal’s Pop and his close relationship and Adam’s strikes an incredible emotional chord with me.
I’m a 90s kid who is obsessed with pop culture from any generation. I would try and reenact my favorite movies as a kid and film or audio record everything, so it may be that Adam, as a viewer’s entry point, is built directly for me. Sure I see a lot of myself and my family tied into the Goldberg household, but there’s something very universal about this family. Coming together in times of need and looking out for one another are always prevalent themes in the last act of each episode. These lessons can’t be defined by one time period or another–1980s or 2010s. Family as a foundation has always been an important part of my life and it’s nice to see it portrayed closer to the way I grew up.
Also, the soundtrack and movie/TV references are so well executed that it’s hard not to fall in love with it based on that alone. I hope there are more dark and stormy Wednesday to take a break from writing and check in with my new favorite family (on TV–nah, my new favorite family). I’m so happy I only let this show slip by me for so long. Shame on me.
Now, go eat some shrimp parm you little snuggle monsters. Also, thanks ABC for airing this show.
Keep on Watchin’!