Gabby Catalano ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
REO Speedwagon plays loudly on the vinyl record, characters sport patterned tops and fedoras, a Polaroid camera sits on the wooden table in the floral-print kitchen, and the mother with big blonde hair and radiant blue eye shadow cooks breakfast for the family while cursing and singing along to the music. These are just few 80’s references packed into the 20-minute, second season premiere of The Goldbergs.
For those that watched the first season, you’re probably familiar with the Goldberg family and their hilarious, typical “That 80’s Show” dilemmas, but for those that missed this dysfunctional 1980’s family in action, allow me to debrief; the stellar hairstyles, Boo Berry cereal, and heart-warming tunes only get better this second time around.
Set during a time when record players and mix tapes replaced iPhone speakers and playlists, the series follows the life of a 12-year-old boy named Adam Goldberg (Sean Giambrone) and his odd “Modern Family.” Present-day “adult” Adam narrates the episodes, with a style similar to The Sandlot and How I Met Your Mother.
The show stars Jeff Garlin (Murray Goldberg), popular in the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Wendi McLendon-Covey (Beverly Goldberg), known for her role in Bridesmaids. Together the actors implement their humor and drama to bring their married couple characters to life, but this time adding even more over-the-top parenting and dramatic roles.
To kick off the second season, the first episode “Love Is a Mixtape” delivers a “nerdy boy longs to get with athletic girl in hopes of experiencing first love” story. Adam gives Dina, the apple of his four eyes, a mixtape with songs from Billie Holiday, Chicago, and REO Speedwagon, hoping that he’ll make her his girlfriend. By mistake, he gives his mother the same exact tape, making it a sticky situation for Adam to get out of.
However, Adam’s story isn’t the only one covered. The audience is introduced to the rebellious Barry Goldberg (Troy Gentile) who’s eager to get a fake ID after his fashionable sister Erika Goldberg (Hayley Orrantia) gets one. The siblings have a love-hate relationship, calling each other “moron” and “freakin’ lunatic”, while also exchanging helpful advice with one another.
Although at times the acting is overly done due to the exaggerated facial expressions and excessive gestures, it complements the multicolored settings and jazzy tunes, resembling a Baz Luhrmann-style film.
Guest star alert: David Spade (known for his humorous roles in The Benchwarmers and Grown Ups) plays Gus, who works at an old-school photo shop making fake ID’s for teenagers… and even grandparents. His presence provided more comical dialogue and fun-filled laughs, ultimately creating an immature but amusing ambiance. Hopefully he’ll show his face in future episodes.
Like the previous season, the characters are exceedingly dramatic to the point where it becomes a bit redundant, the parents especially–Beverley’s intense interest in Adam’s love life, Murray’s care-free and drinking beer half-naked attitude, and grandfather’s request of a fake ID, being a few examples. However, drama and sensation today are what hold the audience’s attention and build popularity. After all, this show does recreate the 80’s through the lens of a modern-day production company, and therefore perfection can’t be expected.
As far as costumes and props go, they succeeded in transporting the audience back to the lively, record-playing era. Patterned sweaters, purple-colored pants, fedoras, vinyl records, and of course, heavy doses of classic music are packed into the episode. Adam’s love of REO Speedwagon continues this season, and the 80’s phrases and references keep coming.
There are very few TV shows nowadays that showcase the eccentric times of the 80’s, The Carrie Diaries being one of them. But The Goldbergs stands out from the few. The show is a virtual experience for people to relive or become acquainted first-hand with this remembered generation.