What Are You Watching?: “The Goldbergs”

The Goldbergs (2013 – 2015, ABC)


Some of the best stories ever told are based on true events. Some of the most successful comedians base their comedy off of their families. Mindy Kaling, Kathy Griffin, and Chelsea Handler’s autobiographical books are all New York Times bestsellers based on their real life family and friends.

I could now talk about my insane family and the time my uncle “pimp-slapped” me, the time my aunt spontaneously sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to my best friend because she is a history major, or the time my mom and I got into a lengthy argument about Britney Spears and her influence – I won that one. I could collect all of the oddities that have become moments in my family’s history and try to form them into something like a narrative or a short story, but Adam Goldberg took it one step further. He took his family and turned them into the main characters of an ABC sitcom: The Goldbergs.

The Goldbergs are a typical family in “nineteen-eighty-something” living in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Murray and Beverly Goldberg are the parents of Erika, Barry, and Adam who are young teens/pre-teens with their own sets of social ineptitudes and quirks.


The show, set in the vague 1980s, covers a lot of social and historical elements like the release of E.T., the fall of the Berlin wall, Jazzercise, bedazzling, Transformers, and the rise of video games. The show is similar to That 70’s Show in a sense but with a more “family-friendly” take, by which I mean less drugs, sharper jokes, and an insane family dynamic.


The genius behind the creative nonfiction story of the Goldberg family is that the creator, Adam, filmed his family and plays footage from his personal archive side-by-side with the show to demonstrate how sincere the show is in its adaptation. True things are likely changed for television, comedic elements are probably heightened, dialogue is probably formulated, and his brother Eric is turned into a sister named Erika for the network.

The show focuses on the changes that have happened in the last thirty years, from technological advances like cell phones to changes in popular culture icons like New Kids On the Block, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and the dedication that went behind making a mixtape for a special someone.

Gender swaps aside, The Goldbergs proves that some of the best stories are the ones that actually happened, as well as that family is the best fodder for stories. And after watching this show, I’ve learned that my family better watch out. Because now I’m taking notes.

The Goldbergs new episodes are Wednesdays at 8:30 Central on ABC.

— Michael Cotter, Blogger & Poetry Editor

One thought on “What Are You Watching?: “The Goldbergs”

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