September 30th, 2015, 8:30 PM, ABC
Even with the show permanently stuck in the 80s, there’s one convention of time that The Goldbergs cannot escape no matter how hard they try – the aging of its kid actors. With actor Sean Glambone getting older, Adam too must go through ‘the pubening’. The youngest Goldberg’s voice starts to change, and it alongside a large amount of physical changes serve to make him feel extremely uncomfortable. Bev comes up with a plan to ease her son’s discomfort by covering up his pimples and hide his changing voice by asking Miss Cinoman to let him lip synch his way through the school musical, a plan she enthusiastically accepts. But Adam’s attempt at lip syncing soon goes the way of Mili Vanilli, and Bev’s guilt soon mounts. She must ultimately make a stand to ensure that the show goes on, mid-puberty Adam or not. Meanwhile Erica and Barry are prepping for the homecoming dance, and Barry and Lainey point out that Erica’s super-brittle personality is both based on Murray’s sour attitude and is driving away the fellas. To better improve his chances to attract the middle Goldberg, JTP member Geoff Schwartz starts wooing her by patterning his behavior after her fave actor, Christian Slater, but Erica ‘s cool attitude when rejecting his advances clues Murray into realizing that his daughter’s judgmental nature is guaranteeing her loneliness. She rejects his advice and asks out the “oddly confident” saxophone player Johnny Atkins instead. But when he leaves her in a lurch it takes a story from Murray to inspire Erica to finally seek Geoff out.
Puberty is something of a universal topic. Every family sitcom addresses it if they’re live action, and The Goldbergs managse to broach the topic with humor and taste, making the discussion of pimples and raging hormones tolerable. Every single person over the age of twenty will remember and recognize the frustration that Adam goes through in this episode – but even better than that is incandescent desperation of the adults around him. Bev and Miss Cinoman make a great team of neurotic hilarity, and when Bev is the one to grow a conscious first you know someone’s far-out idea is just a little too much to bear. The final scene stirs true emotion.
The Erica subplot, however, is sadly pretty uncomfortable. Insinuating that she’s a bad and inflexible person for rejecting a guy she’s not interested in off the bat without thinking it through, and that because Geoff is nice to her she ought to go out with him is a terrible moral to offer up. While her callousness might be rather inexcusable, she’s not required to date a guy just because he seems nice and just because he’s there; she’s allowed to give who she wants a chance, attitude problem or not. The narrative tries to teach Erica (and by extension the audience) a lesson by presenting her with a cocky type who doesn’t give a damn about her opinion, holding up a mirror to her behavior – but that just furthers the notion that she owes Geoff her time and desire because she’s got a nasty attitude instead of the notion that she owes him simple common courtesy. It’s an odd moral to present.
Adam’s plot buoys things up to the usual level of decency I expect from the show, resulting in a save and a decent effort.
- Things Coach Mellor thinks Adam smells like: a gym sock’s butt, a garlic diaper, and egg salad left in a humidifier.
- Adam expresses a brief attraction to Sally Jessy Raphael, former 80s talk show host known for her red-framed glasses.
- ”So you’re telling me I’ve raised a daughter who doesn’t want to date dumbass highschool boys? My work here is done.”
- Beverly’s unfortunate nickname: “Booberly”. She went through puberty at nine.
- This episodes……definitely takes place in 1989, when the Milli Vanilli scandal broke. Adam is also seen in a Who Framed Roger Rabit teeshirt, which was released in that year.
- Ana Gasteyer appears once again as Ms. Cinoman and Bryan Callen also shows up as Coach Mellor.
- The Milli Vanilli lip synching scandal was an infamous moment in 80s pop culture. It was discovered that the Grammy winning duo was actually an entirely prefabricated creation and that the voices heard on hits like “Blame it on the Rain” and “Girl You Know It’s True” in fact belonged to four studio musicians. The duo were forced to surrender their Best New Artist Grammys and consumers were offered refunds for any MV-related musical products purchase. Rob and Fab, the faces who fronted MV, teamed up to release a record under their real names and using their real voices – an act that proved that neither actually needed a vocal assist, making the scandal all the more bewildering. The group met a tragic end with Rob Pilatus’ mid-90’s death of an accidental drug overdose. Fab Morvan continues on as a solo artist.
- Musical motif: The song “What I Did For Love” is sung by Adam’s school chorus, as are several other songs from the famous musical “A Chorus Line”, which actually debuted on broadway in 1975 on its way to a record-setting number of performances. The movie version came out in 1985.
- This week’s Actual Home Video Footage features the actual Adam Goldberg trying to cover up his zits. It’s dedicated to “The Pubening”.
- Next Week: Inspired by the movie Short Circuit, Adam and Murray team up to build a robot but are driven apart by creative differences. Meanwhile Barry has to scramble to replace the footage when he accidentally tapes over Bev’s treasured copy of his fifth birthday party in “Jimmy 5 is Alive.”
Adam’s growing up, but the show’s just a couple of steps behind him in the development department