The Goldbergs, “Boy Barry,” (3.5) - TV Review


GB Boy

October 21st, 2015, 8:30 PM, ABC

Lainey is appalled by Barry’s overconfident bravado as combined with his insecurity and clinginess. Erica offers to help out – and she tells Lainey to pretend that she’s interested in another guy. She then tells Barry that that ‘other guy’ happens to be 80s icon and pop megastar Boy George, and Barry responds to Lainey’s lesson by going to school dressed like the singer, which earns him Lainey’s rejection and the gawking stares of his compatriots. It’s up to Lainey to show Barry how much she cares, even if that means embarrassing herself in front of her classmates and battling back against the social strictures that deem even her lamest moments cool. Meanwhile, Murray grows a mustache as a way of bonding with his best friend Bill Lewis, but his willingness to grow that stache is symbolic of Bill’s winning way with Murray and his pushy behavior around the Goldberg house. Queen bee Beverly feels like her position usurped by Bill’s aggression, flashiness and the way his opinion has supplanted Bev’s in Murray’s heart. Eventually she takes her aggression out on her husband’s underwear – and when her efforts to change Bill into someone who’s more like her fail, she rebels against Murray’s choice of facial hair by shaving it off while he’s asleep, unintentionally escalating a war she may not win.

This week’s episode of The Goldbergs gives us another fine Lainey/Barry plot, though the subject (the fact that they exist on different social plains and that she is far out of his league) is becoming a well-worn subject with these two. But for all its formulaic roots the storyline still contains some sweet, enjoyable moments. Erica continues to play a fun spoiler and third wheel. And yet no matter how much fun the sight of Barry done up like Boy George is, the audience is left feeling like they’ve already seen it. They’ve even already addressed (and seemingly solved) Erica’s lack of love for her best friend’s relationship with her brother, and even her third wheeling. That doesn’t make it a chore to get through, it just leaves the audience wishing for some sort of change to happen and stick.

Much of the best humor comes from the Murray and Bev subplot. This is the episode where Bev’s controlling nature starts to verge on creepy, and her continued inability to accept that her family has a life outside of her scope of influence is starting to get a little skin-crawlingly weird. I’ve complained about how they’ve written her before, and while sometimes her smother can work against the script, sometimes it’s dead-on perfectly side-achingly funny. And yet? The show’s never given us a funnier moment than the sight of a rain-soaked Bill, Lainey, Barry and Beverly running in the rain back to the Goldberg house. It’s a dead-on parody of the best of 80s clichés. It’s the kind of stuff the show should always aspire to produce, and the best joke they’ve given us yet this season.

“Boy Barry” alternates between being rote and being funny, but it also manages to keep you invested, leaving us with a good but not essential episode.

The Roundup

  • Examples of manly mustaches of the 80s: Freddie Mercury, Tom Selleck, Alex Trebek, John Oates, Geraldo Rivera, Burt Reynolds.

  • ”Don’t go around saying your husband’s in a barber shop quartet! That is the lowest form of musical entertainment! Just use an instrument damn it!”
  • Boy George first reached fame as lead singer of Culture Club, which notched over ten top hits during the course of the 80s. George now DJs between Culture Club reunions.
  • ”If embarrassing myself gets me one more kiss from his drooly, Cheetoh-dusted lips, then I’m in.”
  • This episodes……definitely takes place sometime past 1982, after Culture Club’s breakthrough with the song “Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me”.
  • Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I. was a splashy action drama set in Miami about a former navy man and current PI who works in Hawaii out of a lush estate. It ran for eight seasons on CBS starting in 1981.
  • ”I’m Charlie’s most sensible angel, Kate Jackson! I’m the one who wears pants!”
  • Musical motif: Culture Club’s “Do You Really Wanna Hurt Me?” is heard. It was a hit in 1982.
  • This week’s Actual Home Video Footage is dedicated to the real Murray’s Magnum mustache.
  • Another Bev Curses moment: “Well I think it looks like he has s**t on his face!”
  • ”There’s only one thing you need to do right now – go to him!”
  • Next Week: Bev deals poorly with Adam’s desire to spend Halloween with Dana instead of her, ruining their yearly tradition of wearing matching Halloween costumes. Meanwhile, Barry and Erica convince Adam to take Dana to a haunted house on a date in “Couples Costume.”

Goofy, silly teenage relationship drama combines with goofy, silly adult relationship drama to give us an episode that works in fits and starts but still entertains.

  • GREAT 8.5

About Author

Staff Television Critic: Lisa Fernandes, formerly of, has been watching television for all of her thirty-plus years, and critiquing it for the past seven. When she's not writing, she can be found in the wilds of the Northeastern United States.

  • George R

    Does anyone know who sings the running in the rain scene’s version of… Do you really want to hurt me?