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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Goldbergs centers on a quirky family with three kids, ranging in age from 11 to 17, coming of age in the 1980s. They like to yell. A lot. You'll mostly hear gateway terms like "hell" and "damn," although there's some occasional bleeped swearing for stronger words such as "motherf--ker." There's also some mild sexual innuendo related to teen dating and raging hormones, and some dialogue suggests teen characters drink alcohol. Any violence is played for comedy, and most brand names are mentioned for the sake of nostalgia.
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What's the story?
As seen through the lens of 11-year-old son Adam (Sean Giambrone), who carries a video camera with him virtually everywhere he goes, THE GOLDBERGS depicts a loud-but-loving family with a tendency toward yelling their feelings. However, their excessive volume is the perfect match for the excesses of 1980s popular culture, from mom Beverly's (Wendi McLendon-Covey) love of jazzercise to older brother Barry's (Troy Gentile) burgeoning romance with rap music. Rounding out the clan are bellowing patriarch Murray (Jeff Garlin), surly older sister Erica (Hayley Orrantia), and ornery octogenarian Pops (George Segal).
Is it any good?
If you've ever seen The Wonder Years, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in the late 1980s, The Goldbergs will look and sound awfully familiar -- except that The Goldbergs replaces The Wonder Years' 1960s style with the flashy fashion of the 1980s and Daniel Stern's nostalgic narration with slightly snarkier commentary from Patton Oswalt. And lots of yelling. Still, although it doesn't play like an Emmy contender, The Goldbergs ultimately charms in its own way with memorable characters, solid takeaways, and goofy nods to '80s excesses.
A notable twist is that the fictional Goldbergs are modeled after the real-life family of writer and executive producer Adam F. Goldberg, who really did carry around a video camera as an awkward 11-year-old in the '80s and capture his mother, father, brother, sister, and grandfather in all their glory. (This point is made clear in the pilot's closing credits, wherein the young Goldberg's actual footage plays alongside clips from the show.) That's part of the reason these Goldbergs have heart, in spite of their loud way of showing it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fact that The Goldbergs is based on the dynamics of a real-life family (that of writer and executive producer Adam F. Goldberg). What are the pros of using your own life as a springboard for creative inspiration? Are there any cons to turning your parents, siblings, and grandparents into two-dimensional characters? If your family life played out on TV, would audiences be laughing, crying -- or just plain bored?
Does the show's nostalgia for the 1980s appeal to today's kids or only to their parents? Was being a kid in the '80s a lot different than it is today? Has anything stayed the same?
How do the Goldbergs measure up as role models? Does a family have to be perfect to impart a positive message?
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