THE GOLDBERGS play foul-mouthed and nerdy with a bad attitude in this week’s episode, “Deadheads.” It’s a swear-a-palooza for Beverly in this week’s episode, and while the idea of rampant cursing is relatively humorous, the constant censoring that’s necessary for network airing chips away at the humor of the bit. Also happening in this week’s episode: Barry has a life identity crisis as the JTP tries to induct a new member, despite Barry’s best efforts to prevent that. But then, what else is new with Barry?
The snowball starts rolling when Beverly catches Adam dropping an F bomb. For someone so sailor-mouthed herself, she sure puts on quite a show of offence at Adam’s slip up. This surprises both Murray and Erica as well, who point out to Beverly that she’s got quite the dirty mouth herself. When Beverly demands to know who taught Adam to curse like that, Adam also reluctantly admits that it was, in fact, Beverly herself. Determined to prove them all wrong and simultaneously clean up the family’s foul mouths, Beverly starts a swear jar, with the agreement that all the funds in the swear jar will go towards a family vacation – Beverly wants to revisit a colonial town, but Erica wants to go to the beach.
Meanwhile, Barry’s friends group, the JTP, are warming up to another kid in school: Matt, a super-chill guy who also happens to be a big fan of the Grateful Dead. The JTP wants to add Matt to the group, but Barry is against it. He likes being in control and Matt disrupts that control. But after Matt passes all of the JTP induction tests, Barry can’t deny him a place in the group. Oblivious to Barry’s disdain for him, Matt unwittingly adds insult to injury by inviting the group to a Grateful Dead concert the same night they were going to go to a rap show. Since there’s now four members of the JTP, Barry can no longer rig the “democratic” vote of the group in his own favor, and it’s decided that the group will try something new.
Back at the Goldbergs home, Erica is delighted about the swear jar development and the agreement that the money will be used towards a vacation. With Adam’s help, Erica sets up situations to get her mother to slip up and curse so that Beverly will have to add more money to the swear jar. It works beautiful for a time, until Murray points out to Beverly that she’s being played by Erica and Adam. In retaliation, Beverly also creates a ‘Bad Attitude’ jar, and a ‘Nerd’ jar, so that any time Erica speaks with a bad attitude, or Adam makes a nerdy reference, they have to pay up, too. The whole situation quickly spirals into chaos as the three first keep moving money around between the three jars, and then stop talking to each other altogether, just staring each other down.
Meanwhile, Barry makes a plan to smuggle in recording devices to the concert, get caught, and then get the group thrown out of the concert so that they have no other choice but to go to the rap show. This plan would have worked, except that the Grateful Dead are such a chill band they even have a recording section near the stange. When Barry confesses what his true plan was all along, however, the JTP boot him from the group for being a selfish friend.
With the swear jar turning into full-blown Jar Wars, it’s Murray who has to make the first step in the right direction by pointing out what morons they all are for not talking to each other, but just staring silently at one another. Finally, at an impasse, Beverly offers an olive branch, asking if the three of them could still be friends, which, duh. And thus the infamous Jar Wars is over as quickly as it had begun.
Back with the JTP, or should I say, not with the JTP, Barry is coping with the loss of his friends. He tries to start a new circle of friends, but quickly realizes it’s not the same. Having learned his lesson, Barry takes his lonesome self back to the JTP and apologizes. It’s yet another impressive quality of Barry’s. What sort of tricks are up those sleeves, Barry?
Season 4, Episode 17 (S04E17)
The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC
Tasha is a freelance writer currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from Kansas, when she’s not writing about or watching TV, Tasha is searching for the best BBQ place in LA to fill the KC BBQ hole in her stomach.
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Tasha Cerny | Contributor