The Goldbergs, Season 2, Episode 1, “Love is a Mixtape”
September 24th, 2014, 8:30 PM, ABC
Last Season: We met the Goldbergs: helicopter mom Beverly, loud but loveable dad Murray, karate-loving goofball Barry, popular shopaholic Erica, enthusiastic geek cum filmmaker Adam, and wise but slightly daffy Grandpa Pops. During the course of the season, the kids experienced heartbreak (Erica), athletic and social failures (Barry) and the ups and downs of first romance and friendship (Adam), while Bev tried to learn to let her teenagers live their lives and Murray tried to enjoy the magic of television and junk food. In the last episode before the summer hiatus, Barry threw a party to gain the attention of a popular girl at his school named Lexi Bloom while Bev and Murray were out of the house for the evening attending a special event commemorating the occasion of Murray’s high school basketball free throw record being broken. Both Goldbergs tasted failure – Barry’s party was a dud and Murray missed his celebratory free-throw by a huge margin – until Erica and Beverly managed to fix things. Thanks to Erica’s inviting her popular friends to the party and Pops’ constant help, Barry’s party turned into a success – the theme ended up being ‘sweaters’ and the teens broke into Bev’s huge stash of them to keep it going, and thanks to Beverly’s sense of perspective Murray accepted that his teenage failures mattered less than his current private successes. Neither Goldberg parent was particularly thrilled to arrive home to a huge party, but they allowed Barry his moment in the sun – followed by a huge summer grounding. At least he got to go out on a date with Lexi after all.
This week, Barry manipulates Erica into getting him a fake id after catching her with her own; after bragging about said ID in public he gets pressured into delivering booze to popular jock Dwayne Martin’s senior party, resulting in a desperate mission to find somebody who will accept the ID or buy the booze for him. But will Murray figure out what’s going on and bail out his son, or will he let Barry suffer through his inevitable public humiliation? Meanwhile, Adam makes a mixtape for his girlfriend Dana Caldwell with Barry and Pops’ encouragement– only to have Beverly discover it. She believes he made it for her and is so overjoyed by his thoughtfulness that he’s stuck trying to figure out how to pry it from her grip without hurting her feelings – so he dubs Dana a copy and gives both women the same tape, letting each think that she’s ‘the inspiration’. Which results in both women finding out that he sent them the same tape, and to Adam getting caught between Dana and Beverly, disappointing both women and leaving him to crawl back into their good graces.
As always, The Goldbergs manages to combine nostalgia with old fashioned sitcom goodness with a proper edge and darker underbelly - and sense of time and place that fits without seeming ersatz.
The show doesn’t side-step the difficulties of watching your children grow – there’s something really sweet and sad about the constant undercurrent of melancholy loneliness in Beverly’s need for love and attention from her children; the comedy naturally stretches her smothering behavior so the bitter is leavened with the sweet, but it’s still quite touching to watch. Adam’s first romance with Dana continues to be adorable and sincere as well as relatable.
As for the Barry plot, while it’s enjoyable and in character for him at the moment, the writers are starting to dip their toes into the ‘too stupid to live’ category with his characterization. It’s a quality that could be severely flanderized in him sometime in the future, and I hope that they’ll resist the impulse to do so. On the other hand, Barry and Murray’s quiet parallels and similarities, and their father-son bond, continue to be fun to laugh at and note.
The retro-ish production continues to be fitting, but the producers could stand to go to an actual laser light show – those graphics looked super CGI’d and smooth instead of rough and awkward as they would be in reality.
But even though it’s flawed, “Love is a Mixtape” works beautifully as a solid example of sitcom goodness. It’ll make you remember your own childhood with a knowing wince or a hearty laugh, which is more than can be said for many other shows on the air these days.
- ”Alf eating his first cat!” Your esteemed author’s unforgettable 80’s movie involves getting her first Cabbage Patch doll for Christmas.
- The musicians on Adam’s mixtape for Dana include INXS and Weird Al.
- And that is Just Shoot Me and Tommy Boy star David Spade as the FotoMat Guy.
- The name on Barry’s fake IDs: Carlos Delmonico.
- It feels like this particular ep is set in 1989-something; Paula Abdul’s big hit “Opposites Attract” is referenced, and Adam yearns to see the big hit action movie of that year, Die Hard.
- The Actual Home Video Footage for this week’s episode is a shot of the real Adam Goldberg’s mixtape for the real Dana Caldwell. “You are the everything!” We also get a brief picture of young Adam’s apparently fake ID.
- And yep, that was a laser-light version of Bev tucking Dana and Adam to her angelic bosom for a split-second during the show.
- Next Week: Adam doesn’t get the part he wanted in his school play, which causes Beverly to drag him into the wondrous world of community theatre and Pops grows tired of Murray’s habit of leaving sporting events early to avoid the traffic in ‘Mama Drama’.
The Goldbergs continue to be an adorable blast of nostalgia. It’s not a perfect show, but it’s a fun one, and now that it’s sandwiched where it should have been last season between The Middle and Modern Family, it will hopefully see a well-deserved improvement on its ratings.