Show creator Adam F. Goldberg shares how his real-life family compares to the TV version.
- Posted on Sep 14, 2016
If the hit ABC comedy The Goldbergs feels familiar to you in some way, it’s not just because it transports you back to “1980-something” each week. It’s also because the show’s creator, Adam F. Goldberg, intended from the get-go for the series to hearken back to the shows he loved as a kid. His all-time favorite, The Wonder Years, inspired the voiceover narration used on the show, but that’s not the only classic that inspired him.
“Growing up, for me, TV was everything,” Goldberg recently told Guideposts.org. “I loved Growing Pains and Family Ties…Gimme a Break…Alf…all those family sitcoms. When you pitch a show to a network, [you’re expected to] tell them how different this is going to be, and I went in saying, ‘This show’s been done a billion times before. It’s just a family show. The difference with this show is, it’s true, it’s real, and I have the videos to prove it.’”
Goldberg’s honesty has paid off. The Goldbergs, beginning its fourth season on September 21 at 8/7c, claims a loyal fan base who refer to themselves as “Goldnerds.” Most of the show’s fans already know that the TV family—and their friends—are based on real-life people and one of the best parts of each episode is the very end, when we get to see actual 80s video footage Goldberg himself shot when he was an aspiring filmmaker.
Another beloved aspect of the show? Those awesome homages to 80s films. So far, The Goldbergs has taken on classics such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off , Goonies, and Say Anything. This season, Goldberg finally decided to tackle The Breakfast Club. Here, he tells us why…and answers several other burning questions about the upcoming season.
GUIDEPOSTS: So I heard the Season 4 opener is based on The Breakfast Club. Can you tell us anything to tide us over until September 21st?
ADAM F. GOLDBERG: I always struggle with the first episode of the year because [we] want it to feel big and introduce people to the show that haven’t necessarily seen it before, and [we] want it to feel fun and positive and something for the whole family. The Breakfast Club is the one concept that everyone always pitches me, from friends to family members to people on Twitter. But I never really had a take on it. I knew, obviously, the family could sit around in a library, talking about their feelings and bonding, but the idea of exploring that….
AJ Micalka, Troy Gentile and Sean Giambrone in a scene from The Goldbergs' Season 4 premiere.
Beverly is now a substitute teacher and the kids have no freedom. With a mom like Beverly, school is a safe haven, where you’re actually excited to go because you’re out of the house and away from your mom. And now what happens when your mom is there? She’s everywhere you go! And because of that, her kids’ lives are falling apart and it lands them all in detention on Saturday, and they realize that more or less, they have a lot more in common than they thought. And they even find common ground with Beverly, who is struggling at school just like they are.
GUIDEPOSTS: Beverly Goldberg is one of the funniest characters on the show, but I wonder sometimes…does it hurt your mom’s feelings, the way you’ve portrayed her as an over-the-top “smotherer?”
AG: It’s funny. The reality is, I toned the character down a lot for TV. People think I exaggerate, but it’s actually the opposite. My mom even says, “This character is the best version of me that there is.”
GUIDEPOSTS: Your brother Barry [Troy Gentile] is a source of much of the show’s humor, too. I was surprised to learn that in real life, he’s now a doctor. That character doesn’t exactly come across as “doctor material.”
AG: He definitely gets it the hardest: we poke the most fun at him. [But] moving forward on the show, we will be exploring how that comes to fruition. There are all different kinds of doctors, and my brother’s an amazing one.
GUIDEPOSTS: Don’t tell me the JTP guys [Barry’s crew] also grew up to be doctors….
AG: Yes! Two of them are doctors and one of them is a musician!
GUIDEPOSTS: Naked Rob [Noah Munck] is a doctor!?
AG: Naked Rob is a musician. He’s a studio drummer. He says at one point [in an episode], “I want to move to Florida and be a drummer on a clothing optional beach,” which I think is basically what he became. And the other two said in that same episode, “We want to grow up and be doctors.”
GUIDEPOSTS: I read somewhere that you said there were some videos that you would never share because they were just too embarrassing.
AG: Well, at this point, my family would be OK with me showing anything. But as with any family, there [were] huge family arguments with screaming and yelling. I understand that not all families express [their feelings this way]. There are a lot of families that will keep it bottled up, and it’s always simmering under the surface. We were a family that was loud, and if there was something wrong, you would all kind of gather in one room and shout and scream and cry and then you’d go about your day, and you’d have that release and everything would be fine. And I have those all on videotape. So they feel like very private moments. I feel like I have to keep some stuff--some of those more private family arguments…I need to keep that probably just for my family.
And by the way, when I sit down with my siblings, we always watch some of those arguments and we’ll cry with laughter they’re so funny!
GUIDEPOSTS: The love you have for these people really does shine through. Do you think that being a dad yourself made you appreciate your parents more and made you want to create this show?
AG: Sure. I had all these videos that the guy who produces the show with me, Doug Robinson, had been saying for about ten years prior that all my videos could become a TV show, and I didn’t really understand what that meant or how to do it. Once I became a dad myself and saw how I was raising my kids, it really kind of gave me perspective on how my parents did it and the mistakes they made and just how the 80s was such a different time in so many ways, but especially how you were as a parent. And that’s when all the pieces kind of came together and I thought “Well, I should set this in the 80s.” At first I wasn’t going to set it in the 80s; I was just going to set it in today. But I really set out to kind of explore the difference between parenting now and the way it was back then. [Kids today have] smart phones, and the internet, and Instagram, and Tweeting and Snapchat. Exploring a world where all of that just didn’t exist is really fresh and exciting, I think.
It’s a show about the 80s, and it’s a huge nod to those shows of the 80s. The only difference is, it’s my family, and we were anything but perfect. We were all outsiders in our own way.
Season 4 of The Goldbergs premieres Wednesday, Sept. 21st at 8 p.m. on ABC.