THE GOLDBERGS reminds us all in this week’s episode, “O Captain! My Captain!” that despite all the death in 2016, Robin Williams’ death in 2014 still stings. Too soon, Goldbergs, too soon.
But in actuality, the episode struck on a timely issue – and by timely, I mean, women have been dealing with this ridiculousness for centuries, but recently mainstream media has decided it’s legitimately a problem worth addressing. So, yay Goldbergs! Ugh, humanity.
I digress, however. This episode had Adam learning about what it means to be a good friend by addressing and recognizing sexism – thinly veiled as the struggles of puberty and being a girl. (FYI – that ain’t a puberty problem – women deal with that forever. Yes, sorry preteen girls. It never ends, unfortunately.)
Meanwhile, on a less topical and culturally relevant point, Barry is smart? There’s a curveball for ya. And – spoiler alert – this is apparently the historically accurate storyline of the episode. Yes, that’s right, Barry Goldberg, MD, is a doctor in real life. Go figure. This episode, we find out in a very Barry way that he’s actually got a photographic memory and really enjoys science. He’s just never really tried before.
The jokes weren’t as striking this episode, though there was one standout point near the beginning of the episode, at the setup of Adam’s storyline – he is called out to read a note that he gets caught passing between one student and another, and it winds up being a (network TV-approved) graphic note about his friend Emmy’s boobs. Okay, so it’s not really graphic, it’s really just stating that she has them, but still, super embarrassing for a teen, omg. It makes everyone feel awkward, and Mr. Glascott says what we’re all thinking, then asks the class to just move on to the next chapter in their textbooks which happens to be…the female anatomy. Nope, not happening, class dismissed. Okay, it’s a whole lot funnier when you watch it, but it was definitely one of the better punchlines of the season.
Most of the episode spent time taking a semi-serious, slightly parodied look at sexism between students. It was actually a very on-point message that highlighted the difficulty to understand sexism from a perspective guarded in male privilege. But done in an easy-to-digest, way more approachable-sounding way.
Such a message, while topical to current issues being brought up in mainstream media, was, in a lot of ways, a homage to sitcoms of days past as well. A sitcom’s job has always been, first and foremost, to be an entertaining and comedic relief at the end of the work day. But the true sitcom was intended to be a humorous reflection of the American family as well, and shows like Family Matters, The Cosby Show, and Golden Girls (just to name a few) all dealt with just as many topical issues as they did punchlines. It was nice to see The Goldbergs tackle a storyline like this, for that reason as well.
Though there was no major 80’s parody in this episode (other than wrapping the episode up in a neat little Dead Poets Society bow), in a lot of ways, the episode felt like an important installment in the season. Between tackling sexism and discovering that hey, Barry is smart, there was a lot to learn in this episode. So will The Goldbergs continue to advocate for social justices, and will we perhaps learn next week that Erica has some unknown knack and love for math? I guess we’ll all just have to watch to find out.
Season 4, Episode 11 (S04E11)
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