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I Love The Goldbergs!

Spoiler Alert: Content in this blog post is from the May 13, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

The theme of last night’s season two finale was the only four-letter word that doesn’t need to be bleeped out: love.

Telling someone “I love you” is a paradox that knows no bounds. Adam, Dana, Barry, Lainey, Erica and Murray all strugglde in how to say and react to such a daring declaration. In life, there are only a few sentiments that can register earthquake-level emotions and saying and hearing the “L-word” is one of them. Regardless of age or method, the instant after that word is said feels like you are either saved from walking the plank or like you are pushed off into the deepest ocean imaginable.

Either way, it changes everything…

Adam (inspired to do what all us guys did to some extent in our lives) penned a letter that was signed with his love for his girlfriend Dana. And, like a man, he dropped the folded letter in her locker for her to find and open with unyielding happiness! That was surely going to be the reality until he panicked and convinced his sympathetic and over-the-top gym teacher to perform a random drug search in Dana’s locker as she was pulling it open to discreetly retrieve said letter with the “L-word” included.

Boom, crisis averted! Or so Adam thought.

When it came to expressing his feelings, Barry was, well, Barry. As his girlfriend Lainey was at cheer leading practice for their big rivalry game with Central High, he inadvertently blurted out his love for his understandably shell-shocked lady. This all-too-familiar awkwardness pulled Barry and Lainey in two opposite directions: he proceeded forward at 100 MPH with his love and she backtracked in embarrassment. Let’s just say this led to a dancing, giant-faced Fighting Quaker and a school bus being rocked by a rival school’s vengeful fans.

Back at the Goldberg household, Murray was struggling to vocally express his love for his daughter (isn’t a roof over her head enough?). Beverly, who literally never shies away from publicly proclaiming her undying love for her children whilst wearing her pink bath robe with curlers in her hair, as well as a personalized message over the school’s PA system for her snuggle monkey Barry, was forced to rage-juice in front of Erica for not replying to her father’s mumblings of, “I love you.” Like so many of us in a child-parent relationship, that sentiment is strangely taken as a given. It’s a tall wall to climb. However, Beverly knew the impact of hearing it and saying it.

And she discovered the secret passageway past this particular wall and it only cost $57, plus tax.

A leather jacket and leather boots later, Murray saw right through the obvious charade in his daughter’s now vocal love for him. Despite being cast as a distant father figure, Murray occasionally reminds us just how smart and savvy he is. This includes pushing his pushy wife into Erica’s room and tricking her into genuinely saying she loves her dad with Murray standing right outside the door. Even though love may seem like a given with family, this scene proved how nice it is to hear it, regardless of the circumstance.

And there stood Barry in the rocking school bus with his fellow cheerleaders, preparing to face a mascot beat down as equal payback for an earlier incident between the two rival schools. Seeing his bravery, Lainey confessed she was skeptical to say the “L-word” because of her mom leaving her and her dad. But, blown away by her boyfriend’s courage, said she loved Barry. This gave the Fighting Quaker the right stuff for his battle with an angry mob. Unfortunately, it didn’t help, as he was whaled on by the kids at Central High. But he was loved and that’s all that mattered!

Seeing his brother do anything for love, Adam raced his bike over to Dana’s house. He knocked on the door, she opened it, he said, “I love you” and she knocked his socks off with an “I love you” back! Then, she really knocked him over with news she may be moving to Seattle after summer break. It was the most emotional scene of the series thus far as Dana handed Adam his Green Lantern ring back. We’ll have to wait and see if she’ll get the ring back by no moving…But this moment has given the show it’s first Wonder Years/Boy Meets World dynamic of heartbreak and unknown love. It was a vital plot twist for the series.

We’ve all been where the Goldbergs were last night, telling someone we love them with a letter, by accident or by trickery. I’ve certainly written a note (a postcard, actually) along with a giant bear to a girlfriend saying, “I love you” (Let’s not get into her non-response response). The point is that we need to be brave enough to say, “I love you” when we mean it because when it’s said back, it’s the greatest feeling in the world and absolutely everything seems possible, even in the worst of times.

What do I love, in this very moment? That The Goldbergs is coming back in the fall for Season 3.

That’s a cobra strike of awesomeness!

Dance of the Butterfly

Spoiler Alert: Content in this blog post is from the April 29, 2015 episode of The Goldbergs

Feeling like a dork is strangely normal, but only in the rare cases when it’s socially acceptable. In every other situation, the embarrassment is like freaking out in the middle of a high school cafeteria at lunch protesting the lack of chocolate pudding by smashing superfluous pears with slurred speech due to new temporary braces, all while enduring the tragic vision restrictions of pink eye by wearing giant rimmed glasses not considered cool in any decade.

This is Steve Urkel territory, which Erica experienced for the first time in years.

“I’m a butterfly! I’m just going through some stuff, OK?”

For Erica, her unlucky streak began when her unlucky brother Barry unknowingly spread his grotesque pink eye to his sister by laying face down on her pillow. This was after Erica and Lainey informed Barry his “dance moves” were just awkward moves in a small space. Therefore, the BFF’s forbid Barry from joining them on the regionally broadcast sensation, “Dance Party USA.” So, accordingly, Barry took it upon himself to learn real dance moves by asking his surprisingly nimble gym teacher to help him in a comically awkward midnight dance session.

End result: Barry’s dancing on TV with his girlfriend and Erica’s struggling to find her butterfly wings that’s totally not a metaphor for anything related to life and outer appearances.

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

(The Goldbergs Twitter)

The only other Goldberg more unlucky than Erica at this point was Adam. Blinded by the gloriously infinite all-you-can-eat popcorn shrimp Pops won as a bonus in Atlantic City, he was in sheer awe of Pops. Seemingly invincible, there was no end to Pops’ lucky streak of winning at anything gambling-related. Except, what if his bubble of wonderment was popped by his dad? Murray, always the straight-talker with no filter, informed his youngest son of the charade of Pops’ perceived perfection.

Awkward…especially after Adam over-estimated the lucky powers of Pops and nearly lost his entire childhood to his friend in a hilariously predictable game of lunchtime paper football at school. Super mom Beverly came to the rescue, except this was a job for the super grandfather, with or without his leather jacket.

Growing up with two older sisters who were in high school the same time I was in middle school (like the Goldbergs sibling trio), they seemed like they had the inside track on things. Even with all the chaos that comes with high school, there was a sense of control on their parts. And for the longest time, I had been (am) the goofy younger brother with a valuable obsession of insightful knowledge of movies, music and TV. They’ve basically informed me as much. But even when I was going through my awkward phase in middle school (as we all do), my sisters made sure I got to tag along on several occasions. This despite the “coolness” protocol that dictated otherwise.

It wasn’t just the specific activities we did together during this time in our lives, but more so that I was given a temporary visitors pass into their world for a little bit. They’re special memories. While I could list some specific events, it’s tough to beat Erica, Lainey and Barry all dancing and groovin’ together without bounds or concern over looking ridiculous on a popular regionally broadcast dance show.

And yes, “Dance Party USA” was a real thing back in the ’80s!

From Barry trying to a little bit less Barry in front of his admittedly too-good-for-him girlfriend Lainey to Pops passing down his grandfather’s pocket watch to Adam to Erica feeling a glimpse of sibling love to Mr. Meller sharing off some killer dance moves that his ex-wife is surely missing to Beverly losing a war (the card game kind), this episode showed there’s no luck needed when family and friends are involved.

The Goldbergs is simply all-you-can-get awesomeness.

The Goldbergs Melt with Us

Spoiler Alert: This post contains content featured in the October 29, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs

“Home is where the heart is”

This Hallmark-worthy sentiment seems to be the antithesis of how the Goldbergs feel about their home. Instead, it’s more like, “home is where each person has their individual space, preferences and buffer zone.” This includes Adam’s future home with his wife and four snuggle-loving boys as revealed by America’s favorite Smother Beverly. And yet, Adam is already not happy about having to move his action figures from the garage to the basement to make room for the woman ‘who made him, with her own body.’

This conversation all started with a tray of flammable shots mistakenly lit by retired party-animal Pops during his rockin’ Halloween soirée.

Trick or treat indeed…

It’s become a familiar and trying debate for all families who must confront where their retired parents and/or grandparents will reside in their later years. Some say they should move-in with their children and grandchildren (Beverly with the usual passion of a thousand suns), while others believe in moving them into a retirement community (Murray, Erica, Adam, Barry…and Pops?). This sparks an electrically-charged debate centered on personal preferences (ie – the thermostat), routines sans a hanging tie and imaginary scenarios involving future protocol for treating the current heads of the Goldberg household.

Well, Beverly, to be specific.

This conundrum can be as intense as mixing Coke with Pop Rocks. While it surprisingly doesn’t bring about instant death (major relief!), it can cause severe indigestion when combined with way, way too much Halloween candy, followed by a rap declaring your love for your high school crush. Just remember to spell her name crrecotly. Of course, Barry bravely stepped-up for this 1980-something challenge for the ages. With a backup beat from the JTP, it was nothing short of glorious…in a disaster kind of way.

While the issues of determining the validity of a retirement home for your grandfather or helping a sibling to spend time with a friend of your they had a crush on have yet to apply to me, instances of supporting family have countless times. We do it because we love our family, despite how crazy, outlandish and utterly ridiculous they are. It’s being there to listen, to drive over late at night to read my nephew a bedtime story or indulging in something you had absolutely no interest in, like going to a George Carlin concert with your excited younger brother. There may have been some Bushido Code, an ancient samurai tradition, involved with that concert. But the latter is a critical skill to have and to polish from time-to-time because it can reveal important truths, like when Pops told his daughter Beverly that he preferred to live in a retirement community as opposed to her house…even with the bachelor pad-constructed attic that Beverly put together with some light dusting and window additions. Or when Erica caves and convinces her best friend Lainey to spend some time with her idiotic brother Barry in the hospital. Remember the Coke and Pop Rocks + Halloween candy + a love rap in the middle of school? Yup, to many people’s surprise, that sequence of events was not the best idea. But that’s partly what life is all about, seeing how many awesome things (by our own definitions, of course) we can do and pushing our limits to the max.

Like the good people at Nike always say, “just do it.” And like the Goldbergs always say, “family takes care of family.”

Also, a safety tip from Beverly Goldberg for all those anxious trick-or-treaters tonight and when they should eat their candy: “Not until we take it to the hospital and have it x-rayed!”

Family also makes us crazy.

The Goldbergs are Really Co (Damn Printer)

Spoiler Alert: This post contains content from the October 22, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs

Toasters flying in the air, pretending to hack the school’s computer system and covertly learning about important historical events is how high school kids in suburban Philadelphia rocked it in the ’80s, “JTP” style. Forget mansions, yachts and caviar, the true high rollers rode deep with Pepsi and sandwiches with potato chips in them. Plus, someone would randomly run around naked, as one does. The Jenkintown Posse (JTP) was “the” exclusive club to be in as seen by youngest brother Adam. In a truly rare moment, Adam saw his older brother Barry in a positive, cool light. How could he break this firewall between an “Oregon Trail”-playing, dying of dysentery kid to “one of the guys?”

One word/cult movie title: WarGames.

Speaking of war games, Beverly’s ecstatic excitement for a technology that printed her children on a bright white shirt could only be deflated by the sight of her daughter Erica and her friends with her newest suburban enemy: “the cool mom.” Wearing a sweater that only covers one shoulder is pretty bae. Anyways, it’s clearly foolish for Beverly to be concerned about not being viewed as “the cool mom” when she publicly (and proudly) wears a t-shirt with her three kids’ faces on it. It’s not like she’d ever say anything embarrassing to the random t-shirt vendor in the middle of the mall with a big smile on her face, right?

“I made these people, I made them with my body.”

Our efforts to be liked (ie – cool) is an aspect about life we all can relate to, especially when there’s a tether connected to our parents and/or older siblings. In the case of The Goldbergs, they had to act out in hilarious ways in order to fit into that exclusive club known as being cool. Whether this meant a mom dressing up and dancing like Madonna with a boom box (it’s a machine used to play music) in front of her daughter and her friends or typing gibberish on a computer screen (ie – askldjidxa!%*) that supposedly translated into grades being changed for the JTP (“JTP!”) or getting drunk with your hip dad Pops so your daughter would have to take care of you after stumbling in after curfew or even printing a fake hall pass to assist in stealing the rival school’s mascot (a real falcon) that would get his older brother back in tight with his posse, a big part of being cool is redefining the rules of the game. It’s probably safe to say we’ve all done stuff like this with our families in some ways. As the Goldbergs continue to prove, just being there for one another is what families are all about.

And that’s pretty cool.

See, no reason to be embarrassed by one’s parents.

Of course, it was just a bit shocking and unnerving to hear my dad (several years ago) tell a random airport custom’s agent who was asking about his three children’s passports that while we all had different birth places, we were all conceived in the same place.

True story.

In some form or another, every parent wears a bright white t-shirt with their children’s face(s) on it that’s primed for plenty of opportunities for public humiliation. And in those situations, it can make dying of dysentery on the “Oregon Trail” not seem so bad.

I just might bet a Bev Buck on that.