On the surface, The Goldbergs is your average zany family, getting into equally zany situations, all in the name of the half hour network sitcom. But it doesn’t take very long to realized that a man such as myself — just shy of 30 and a nerd through and through — is able to relate to this show on a much deeper level. Every episode is about one of two things. The first is the ever struggling plight of the middle school student. Stuck between the ever warring worlds of elementary school, where a kid is free to dream big and play with toys, and high school, where those same activities will end in excessive taunting, at the very least. In that way, The Goldbergs feels very much like an updated version of The Wonder Years, but with a lot more humor weaved into the mix.
The second constant in the show was the almost endless stream of wonderful, joy inducing pop culture references. It is no secret, especially if you listen to the Free For All podcast (and maybe more so, The Geek Sheet), that I am a fan of most things that comprise popular culture both as we know it today, and as it was in decade previous. The 1980’s gave birth to some of the things that now are engrained into both my work, my hobbies, and even how I raise my son. The Goldbergs uses everything from an iconic soundtrack, to the fashion trends we all remember (for better or worse), to the wonderful things that were made popular then, like video games, movie rentals, and professional wrestling.
As for the characters who deliver all of hijinks week after week, they’re all relatable caricatures of people we almost all have in out lives at one point or another. Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the over-bearing mother who loves a little too hard; Murray (Jeff Garlin), the underwear-clad father who is loud and insulting on the outside, but really has a big heart; “Pops” (George Segal), the cool granddad who the kids confide in; Erica (Hayley Orrantia), the “too cool” sister; Barry (Troy Gentile), the older brother who desperately want to be cooler than he actually is; and Adam (Sean Giambrone), the star of the show and the central focus of every growing pains-like moment. To top it all, the entire show is narrated by the hilarious Patton Oswalt. Sure, every one of these character is a complete cliché, but the stereotypes they portray are stereotypes for a damn good reason — they’re how families often act. We even get to see evidence of this at the end of every episode, as real footage from Adam Goldberg’s life is shown, and then compared to a scene from that same episode. It’s crazy how close they come to recreating the home video footage Adam shot as a kid.
The Goldbergs is everything you want in a sitcom. It is consistently funny, with only maybe four or five episodes in the entire twenty-three episode run not really hitting home for me. The characters are fun and easy to root for. And it has enough pop culture reference to kill a man, were a man able to be killed by such things. If you enjoy a good, family centric sitcom, then this show is certainly one I would recommend, and if you grew up in the 80’s — it’s one that I may just have to insist on you checking out.