The Goldbergs wallows in a decade’s worth of shame and guilt.
BY DEAN ROBBINS
The 1980s take a beating in The Goldbergs (8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC). An adult narrator looks back on his childhood in the days when REO Speedwagon seemed profound and even middle-aged moms wore a Madonna hairdo. The Goldbergs are a hostile-yet-loving family with a nutty grandfather (George Segal), a bossy mother (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and a dyspeptic dad (Jeff Garlin), plus three kids for the adults to yell at. Dad is the champion yeller, though the narrator insists his insults are really endearments cloaked in harsh language. When Dad snarls, “You’re not a total moron all the time,” a subtitle appears with a translation: “I love you.”
The Goldbergs could have settled for easy laughs about Burt Reynolds and Gobots, but it wants to be more than just an ’80s parody. It wants to find humor in an unsettling family dynamic that feels all too real (indeed, the series is based on producer Adam F. Goldberg’s own childhood). I found myself both laughing and cringing at the mixture of guilt, shame and affection.
The Goldbergs is the hardest-to-watch sitcom of 2013-14. Translation: I love it.
Monday, 8:30 p.m. (CBS)