Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ABC’s ‘The Goldbergs’ – Funny but Crass

(clockwise from upper left) Hayley
Orrantia, George Segal, Troy Gentile,
Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey and
Sam Giambrone in "The Goldbergs.
Photo: ABC

Years ago, people fell in love with a show that celebrated the 1960’s with ABC’s The Wonder Years. ABC is hoping that lightning strikes twice with The Goldbergs, which focuses on the 1980’s and aired tonight at 9:00 p.m.

While the two shows are similar in tone, they are based on different realities. The Wonder Years was completely fiction, while The Goldbergs is actually partially based on fact. It is written and executive-produced by Adam F. Goldberg whose own family is the inspiration for the show. When watching the show for the first time, the characters seem way-over the top, until you see the found footage of the real family during the show’s ending credits. Then you see that the actors weren’t far off the mark.
Sam Giambrone plays the 11-year-old version of Adam who tends to capture the family action with a video camera. ABC describes The Goldbergs as just another loving family but with a lot more yelling: 
  • Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is the over-involved mother of the clan.
  • Murray (Jeff Garlin) is the pantless and name-calling father.
  • Erica (Hayley Orrantia) is Adam’s 17-year-old sister.
  • Barry (Troy Gentile, looking too old for the part) is the overly emotional 16-year-old brother.
  • Pops (George Segal) is Solomon, a former Don Juan (at least in his own mind) willing to show his skills to his grandson.

The pilot episode is good, but not great. For the most part, the show makes for a fairly good family comedy. However, whether based on fact or not, the most offensive part of the story is Adam’s obsession with women’s breasts. There is even product placement for Hooter’s Restaurants. Not only does this behavior not faze grandpa, but in turn, he encourages it.

Unlike ABC’s other family show, The Middle, this one is not appropriate for all family members. This is a shame as the show has great potential. In addition to the broad comedy it also has a soft spot with some touching moments. While hormones are fact of life, the subject matter could have been treated in more lighthearted and less crass way. The Goldberg’s has no reason to stoop to low-brow humor. With any luck, the show will clean up its’ act in the following episodes.

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