"When it comes to my childhood, I may not always remember exactly when something happened or exactly who was there. But I do know that it was nineteen eighty-something and it...was...awesome. "
The Goldbergs is a 2013 sitcom format television show on ABC. The first episode aired on September 24th to a viewing audience of 8.94 million viewers. The show revolves around the life of 12 year old Adam Goldberg and his family during the 1980s. He regularly has to deal with his older sister Erica, older brother and middle child Barry, as well as his parents Beverly and Murray. His maternal grandfather "Pops" is also a member of the main cast. The show features a mix of traditional camerawork as well as "home footage" taken from Adam's camera.Not to be confused with the old time radio/sitcom The Goldbergs from the early 50s. Or maybe not...
The show provides the following totally, like, awesome tropes:
Accidental Misnaming: Adam's gym teacher, Mr. Meller, keeps calling him Goldfarb, even when his name's written on the gym shirt. It's only until Adam does one pull-up on the fitness test that the gym teacher calls him Goldberg. This becomes a Running Gag as time goes on. Every so often the main conflict of the show is Adam vs. Meller. Once Adam masters the particular skill Mr. Meller wants him to, he calls Adam by his real name.
Ambiguously Jewish: The family is named Goldberg, and a lot of stereotypical Jewish slang is used, but it's never a plot point.
Anachronism Stew: The show refuses to say specific years, as each episode begins with present-day Adam saying the date followed by "1980-something".
The exact year is deliberately left ambiguous. For instance in one episode Adam and Pops are wearing Ghostbusters costumes which would put the time 1985 or later. But in another episode Murray is watching the Phillies in the World Series which would put it in either 1980 or 1983. Yet everyone is the exact same age.
The pop culture (obsession with The Karate Kid, for example) would place it around 1984-1986, yet one of the boys wanted "pump" running shoes, which weren't introduced until 1989.
And then an episode takes place with the theatrical debut of Return of the Jedi as a plot point, which was released in 1983.note In fact, there's another anachronism in that episode ("A Wrestler Named Goldberg"); Barry joins the wrestling team and thinks it'll be like WWE, coming up with a wrestling name and trying to hit people with chairs, et al. WWE didn't really hit its level of popularity until about 1984, and "WrestleMania" and those stuffed WWE buddies didn't exist in '83 either.
Bad Liar: Barry couldn't lie his way out of a wet paper bag to save his life.
Big Brother Bully: Barry has been shown to be this to Adam, but lets him take off his glasses first and never actually hurts him. He goes full throttle in "For Your Own Good" when Adam asks him to be his bodyguard on the school bus and Barry becomes the new bully instead.
Bilingual Backfire: In 'The President's Fitness Test,' Erica has a French exchange student over. Barry has Erica translate pick-up lines for him, only for her to mess around with it. Eventually, Pops can't stand it and tells Barry what he's been saying, much to both his and Erica's surprise.
Brutal Honesty: Murray is blunt about the truth, especially when it comes to Barry being a moron.
Butt Monkey: Barry is shown to be this at times, sometimes at his own doing.
Adam is just as likely to get his own moments as well.
Dawson Casting: In Season 1, we already have 20-year-old Troy Gentile and 19-year-old Hayley Orrantia as high school-aged Barry and Erica, with Erica ironically being the older sibling in-universe. In Season 2, we now have 21-year-old Gentile and 20-year-old Orrantia.
Early Installment Weirdness: The show originally featured a lot of "found footage" taken from Adam's compulsive camerawork which is something the real Adam did a lot (this is where the footage at the ends of episodes comes from). However this was abandoned towards the end of the first season.
Erica is the most responsible of the Goldberg children, usually having to help Barry or Adam out of trouble.
Adam can be either foolish or responsible. When dealing with Erica, he's usually the fool; when dealing with Barry he's usually responsible.
Barry is the least responsible of the children. He's the most likely to get into trouble and need help from the others.
Frozen in Time: "It was mid-April, 19-eighty-something...'' The show purposely plays loose with the timeline in order to cram in as many '80s references as possible and to keep the family in a specific era as long as possible.
Gender Flip: Erica. The real Adam Goldberg has two older brothers, Eric and Barry.
Girlfriend in Canada: Barry claims to have one of these that he met in summer camp. The rest of the family mocks him mercilessly, and Erica notes that she was at camp with him but never saw his supposed girlfriend.
Girly Run: Barry. One has to see it; a description does not do it justice.
Hollywood Hacking: Played with. Barry and his friends want Adam to hack the school to get them good grades. Adam has no idea how to do any computer hacking, so he does the next best thing: hack their brains by tricking them into actually studying for their history test!
Humiliation Conga: In "The Kremps," Barry finds a recording of a phone conversation between Erica and a friend, in which she talks about wanting to get together with the new neighbors' eldest sonnote Barry and Erica had been fighting over the phone for part of the episode, Erica had caught Barry calling a 976 number earlier that episode and threatened to tell their parents.. When Erica tries to grab the answering machine, both siblings fight for it and accidentally send it flying onto the floor, resulting in another part of the call playing in front of Erica's crush. Barry and Erica start fighting, while Beverly tries to break them up, she sees that Murray has fallen asleep, leading to a bleeped Precision F-Strike that results in an Oh, Crap expression from Beverly as everyone looks in shock.
Ms. Fanservice: Erica, full stop, in "Who Are You Going to Telephone?" The odd part is that she was dressed as Jane Goodall for her Halloween costume, though Goodall never bared any midriff. In fact, if her shirt was plaid and the shorts were denim, she would have been more believable as Daisy Duke.
Never Trust a Trailer: The early advertisements made it out to be a wacky 80's period piece full of pop culture ala "That 70's Show." The 80's are really just background. It's really a character driven comedy about the family. In fact it could easily be updated to modern times and you could have the exact same show.
The Obi-Wan: Pops dispenses wisdom to everyone from time-to-time, but mostly Adam.
Pro Wrestling Is Real: In 'A Wrestler Named Goldberg,' Murray has to break it to Barry that it's not real, even when he's coming up with a finisher and backstory.
Real Person Cameo: Creator Adam Goldberg based the bus bully in "For Your Own Good" on We're the Millers producer JC Spink who used to bully Goldberg when they were kids. Spink cameos in the episode as the school bus driver.
Rousing Speech: Barry gives one (with a tip of the cap to Election) in "The Other Smother" to get elected class treasurer. It's basically a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about moms who interfere in their children's lives, and even his opponent gives him a standing ovation.
The Smurfette Principle: Adam F. Goldberg's real-life brother Eric was changed into a sister named Erica. Word of God says this was to show some of the trends and fads that were issues for teenaged girls in the '80s, since they already had one teenage boy and one junior high boy in the cast.
They Really Do Love Each Other: Murray and Bev have a heartwarming moment at the end of "The Ring" when they finally kiss on camera, much to the squick of the kids.
Too Dumb to Live: Barry veers into this territory at times: in the pilot episode, when he drives his grandfather's car for the first time (with the rest of the family in it), he accidentally drives into the garage door when he is supposed to back out of the driveway (to which Murray intones "I raised a moron"). In "The Kremps," Adam "challenges" (tricks) Barry into climbing up the tree in front of the house... twice.
Unreliable Narrator: Narrator!Adam can never seem to remember the exact year whatever story he's telling happened (see the page quote). This is probably why he gets certain cultural phenomena crossed up, like thinking the Phillies were playing in the World Series the same year Ghostbusters was out.
Unusual Euphemism: Murray tries to have "the talk" with Barry using the names of baseball players instead of the actual body parts involved.
Barry:"Oh yeah, you're a Mike Schmidt!"
Murray:"Get your head out of your Orel Hershiser and get back down here!"
To preface this fact, most episodes end with real-life home movies filmed during the decade from which the series is set by creator Adam F. Goldberg featuring his family.note So far, though the only in-universe Goldberg family member whom we haven't seen to exist as a real-life member of Adam F. Goldberg's family is Erica. That character is actually based upon his brotherEric.