TV shows set in the past, are no rarity in today’s age of recycled ideas. TV shows, or even sequences set in the 1980s are even less rare. Which is why Adam F. Goldberg’s new comedy about a family living in suburban Philadelphia is such a surprise success. Not to say, Goldberg ‘s skills are subpar. Many times, with the exception of AMCs Mad Men, and the hit That 70s Show, shows like this tend to use the era as a gimmick. And although, the clothes, the patterns and the cars were what first grabbed my attention; it was the storylines and its characters that led me to stay.
‘The Goldbergs’ enters ABCs comedy block, with a fresh look on family comedy, ironic since the comedy is set 20 + years into the past. In the vein of Modern Family, this family doesn’t need three different households to bring the funny; it does quite well with all the crazy going on under just a single roof. Fulfilling realistic character developments and habitual familial interaction, ‘Goldbergs’, gets it right.
My favorite character, yet one of the more underplayed entities on the show is Erica (Hayley Orrantia), seventeen and just downright nonchalant. She chimes in when you’d expect the oldest sibling to. She’s always talking about her friend, whom we’ve yet to meet. How many times have you brought up a friend’s name in attempt to relate a situation to something that’s occurring to someone you know? Sooner or later this friend becomes a constant topic, and like always, this friend has gone through practically everything that one can imagine. Erica’s friend is no exception and takes shape in the form of Laney, except we don’t know in what shape or form Laney comes. My point here? It’s completely realistic, even though Laney has yet to show her face, we all know that faceless friend. Erica, unlike her younger siblings has it a bit easier. She isn’t nagged on as much—she’s the ultimate big sister character–never too involved, but always present. This chick, along with her headbands and acid wash skirts is a big sister storyline box just waiting to be opened.
We then have one of the stronger driving forces of the show, Barry, (Troy Gentile) An over-the-top lovable loser. The term could very well have been created to describe this particular Goldberg. He’s…well; he’s over the top. Many of Barry’s storylines and moments seem to be mostly drawn out from Adam F. Goldberg’s real life brother, Barry—he’s often times mentioned in the end-of-episode tidbits as “The Real Barry. Like a true loveable loser, Barry has a new mission every week, a new thing he wants or so desperately needs. He’s also probably the one Goldberg who requires so much attention—very much a contrast to “cool teen,” Erica.
So far, a lot of the series’ episodes are propelled through Barry-based storylines. From getting a job at his father’s furniture store. To learning how to get around the “call me when you get there,” rule that mothers seem so insistent on. Gentile has done a magnificent job at grounding Barry’s up-in-the air personality, it seemsgenuine no-matter how naïve the things that come out of his mouth sound.
But every loveable loser needs a mother who loves them so much, she can’t seen them doing any wrong her eyes—Beverly Goldberg ,played by comedic genius, Wendi McLendon-Covey. This lady should be praised by the real Beverly Goldberg for bringing so much funny, it’s almost hard not to rewind every scene she’s in. A true-full time mother, Beverly, after having been thrown some serious shade from Erica, shows the family how being a mother, is just as much of a job as a cashier at the local mall or any other paying gig. In short, Beverly’s great, everything that comes out of her mouth is right out of the mother textbook. Oh yea, and she’ll do just about anything to spare her babies a hard time. Like disguising herself as a ghost and essentially passing as a teenager at a Halloween party. Only to have the opportunity to talk Barry up to his high schools crush. She goes overboard, but she means well and has a heart. Also known as a good mother.
Next to every good mather, stands a good man, and that man is Murray (Jeff Garlin). Murray is in many ways such a gem to the Goldberg clan because he lets his family run wild and be who they are, starting with his eccentric but loving wife, Beverly. Yes, he’s loud, but as every man of the house, he’s just trying to navigate the household with as much ease as he can. Trying his best not to distrub the peace, but stepping in when the wife deems neccesary. Murray’s what I like to call, a quiet favorite. He’s the king of the home, but lets the queen reign–like every good man should.
The heart of the show comes in little Adam Goldberg, (Sean Giambrone). Little Goldberg goes around recording his family’s unconventional antics with his very 80s video camera. Catching them at not only their best moments, but also their worst. I should say, there are more “worst” than better moments, and they’re just as funny as you think they’ll be. Adam’s character is strongly based on creator Adam F. Goldberg, and it doesn’t take long to notice such detail, as Adam is in many ways the heart of the series’ authenticity.
As more supernatural teens and undead characters fill our screens, the amount of true family sitcoms decreases by the season. With ‘The Goldbergs,’ we’re reminded that hope hasn’t completely been lost. This comedy doesn’t use flashy effects or life-threatening storylines to grab and hold the viewers attention. Yes, it’s set in the 80s, but it could have very well been made in the 80s too. And since American seems to have a habit of over-looking the shows that should otherwise go on for seasons on end, lets nip any further mistakes in in the butt by tuning into this grounded family sitcom.