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The Goldbergs - RAD! - Review: "Here's To Growing Up"

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The Goldbergs was a mixed bag this week. On the yay front there was plenty of Erica and this episode was written by the extremely talented Dan Levy.

For those unfamiliar with him, he also happens to be the co-creator of Schitt’s Creek along with his father, a show they also star in and Dan has written episodes for. Whilst I may post the press releases & promotional photos for The Goldbergs here, shockingly enough I don’t pay all that much attention to the information in them so the ‘written by’ credit completely went over my head. Having said that, even before the after credits revealed Dan to be the episodes writer, I already knew it was him because he has a very distinctive writing style and I mean that in the best way possible.

The opening sequence of Geoff rearranging Erica’s nail polish, Erica discovering a karaoke bar had opened, going to said bar with Geoff who found all of it a bit much whilst Erica was dreaming of leaving her bandmates behind to go solo and be signed to a record deal having been discovered in said bar by a scout? All of it smelt like the writing of Dan Levy, and reminded me of Schitt’s Creek.

The A storyline this week revolved around Erica. She got said job in the karaoke bar, to Murray’s absolute delight and Beverly was soon wanting to share in that enjoyment and support her daughter. Erica however was on the fence with that, very much afraid of Beverly embarrassing her with her over the top smother ways. Being respectful of this Beverly obeyed her wishes and stayed away from the karaoke bar, but Erica was soon forced to call upon her for help with the bar badly in need of customers.

I love when the show brings back things from past episodes, so the sequence showcasing every time Beverly has been an embarrassing smother? Absolutely delightful. Beverly gets herself and her fellow mothers decked out in supportive sweaters, all ready to go to the bar, eat crappy food and sing along to songs, but Erica forbids any of that. If Beverly is to come, she’s to be song-less, complaint-less and basically fun-less.

Whilst Beverly didn’t at all like this, she was willing to go along with it once Erica upgraded them to being gal-pals. Beverly is a smother at heart who loves her kids, probably a little too much, and has always wanted Erica to see her as a friendly mother that she can bond and have fun with instead of just a giant embarrassment. Erica’s never been the most receptive person to her mother’s efforts despite how hard Beverly’s tried, and Beverly is always sitting on that knife edge knowing she’s only ever a moment away from Erica berating her for embarrassing her.

That moment came at the bar when the food arrived cold. Beverly resists the urge to complain but when the bars owner Gary, played by the legend that is Ricky Springfield, stops by the table Essie speaks up. She comments on the food, she comments on them being banned from singing, Beverly tries to cover it up for Erica, but the damage has already been done and Gary is soon telling Erica off. Before Beverly can get a word out of her mouth, Erica is once again condemning her mother for embarrassing and getting her in trouble with her boss.

This is a storyline the show has played out quite a few times, and usually after being cascaded Beverly is quick to apologize to Erica for her behaviour and the two eventually make up. This time though Beverly decided if Erica was going to have a go at her, she’d make it worthwhile. So she and the Frentas took to the stage, did their dancing, did their singing and got Glascott and Gary to join them on stage. They proved to be a massive hit with the bar but not Erica, who once again made a dig at her mum. Again usually this would be the point where Beverly would back down, but instead she rightfully called Erica out on her behaviour.

“No matter how hard I try, you will always see the worst in me. How can I treat you with respect, when you don’t even have a shred for me?”

Such a simple sentence full of so many truths that Erica is completely blind to, and where Beverly basically loads the gun here, Gary is the one to pull the trigger.

“What happened to my best customers?”
“They’re not customers, they’re a bunch of Yentas led by my mortifying mum and I mean MORTIFYING!”
“Well though you find your mum embarrassing, you know who doesn’t? Everybody else! The good news is everything changes when you grow up. Guess you’re not there yet”

Erica and Beverly are my favourite characters on the show because they both bring something so different to the table. Erica’s usually the character I most emphasize with, but even our favourite characters occasionally need bringing down a peg or two, especially when they are so disrespectful to their parents. Erica thinks she can do and say whatever she wants to Beverly and she’ll just take it because she’s her mum and she loves her. Beverly supported Erica dropping out of school, she tried to help her band book a gig and keep her in Murray’s good books, but it’s never really enough for Erica. The premiere saw Adam call her out on how selfish she can be and as Erica was once again laying into Beverly, her frustration was clear and that’s why she finally stood up for herself and then walked away from Erica.

With both Beverly and Gary’s words ringing in her ear, Erica eventually made her way back to Beverly where she acknowledge that she’s always proclaiming Beverly to be lame when Erica actually is. It led into an interesting conversation where Beverly was somewhat backing down again, willing to do what it took to have a relationship with Erica. She turned this down of course and admitted for probably the first time in her life that Beverly has far more to offer than Erica. It’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to Beverly and without a doubt one of my scenes of the week. The moment was perfectly played by Wendi McLendon-Covey and Hayley Orrantia. The Goldbergs might be a comedy but it has a talented cast who can pull off emotional scenes like this, without it coming across as cheesy or cliched.

The other storyline this week again revolved around Barry & Lainey. This time Pops gave them money for a savings bond, but instead of being mature adults and using it for the nest egg it was, Barry instead decided to buy a bike whilst Lainey bought a keyboard. They then tried going back to Pops for more money, but Murray intervened and instead tried to teach them how to be financially responsible. The proclamations every marriage has a saver and a spender are probably true, and it was fun seeing Barry basically act as a mini Murray. Getting frustrated by how little money the were actually saving what with Lainey spending, Barry and Lainey decided they’d put their passions to good used and earn money that way. It didn’t go at all well and Murray trying to give them a reality check led to Barry falling down in the dumps, and Pops reminding Murray of how he was when he first got with Beverly.

The conclusion of all of this was sometimes love is enough to keep a relationship going at the beginning, eventually you will master the financial aspects of things and in between that you have family to help bump things up. That’s an absolutely terrible life lesson to take away. I usually love this show for its continuity, but this week that fell flat as we know the thing Murray cares about the most is his kids being able to look after themselves. We know he doesn’t agree with Lainey & Barry getting married, so the idea that because Pops reminded him of where he started out would convince him to stop going hard ball? Sorry but I don’t agree. It is still extremely early in the season, but if every episode is going to have Barry & Lainey as the B story, not learning an important life lesson and the realities of marriage because it doesn’t matter because love is all you need? Well it’ll get real old real fast.

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