It’s time for the greatest musical of our time in this week’s episode of THE GOLDBERGS, “The Greatest Musical Ever Written.” Sorry Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it’s not Hamilton. This week’s episode went full-on Phantom of the Opera as Barry and Adam battle it out over who is the coolest, and Barry gets jealous of Adam’s stage romance with Lainey. Also happening in this episode, Beverly takes over Erica’s Home Economics class, effectively destroying Erica’s grand plan to ride out her senioritis full throttle.
I’ll admit, having been a high school theater nerd myself, this week’s episode was filled with plenty of hilarious insider references to the high school theater culture. I mean, massage circles? I’d forgotten that was even a thing, but now I’m realizing exactly how creepy it was that we would all do that together. Also, the theater hierarchy of actors and stagehands – so true! And so, so sad. Zip Zap Zop was actually Zip Zap Zorp in my high school, but close enough.
The real highlight of the episode, though was the B story between Beverly and Erica. Beverly’s total takeover of the Home Ec class was a genius amplification of her already crazy character, and the fight between mother and daughter rang so relevant and true. As someone who had a suzy homemaker mother, I can relate so well to this one. But I just cannot get over how well Beverly’s character played in this week’s episode. Often, Beverly is such an out-there personality I have a hard time really finding the humor in her jokes, because I just can’t believe that anyone as caricature as her could actually exist. However, in this episode, the Home Ec setting played so true to Beverly’s character that all of her usual antics were just that much more fun to watch.
Not that it really mattered to the episode, but I will say I did have a slight protest against the stage props, effects, and quality of the rehearsal in the high school theater depiction. First of all, I don’t care how elite your theater department at your high school is, those props would not be nearly as well designed as the ones in the show, and you definitely wouldn’t use a fog machine during rehearsal. Also, these kids already know their lines and the music and you just started rehearsals? No way, man. Any high school theater nerd knows that there is always at least one kid still on script a week away from opening night. Always.
But despite these very clearly Hollywood-ized details in the episode, “The Greatest Musical Ever Written” was actually really funny and heartfelt. This show has always been more about caricature characters than one-liner humor, but this episode really soared because of that by putting each of these characters into their “element” and seeing how they deal with outsiders. It was pretty genius, and Barry has several great punches to add to the tally of one-liner jokes.
In the end, the show did what it always does best: wrap up the idea of family love in a neat little boy. It’s cute and weird and kind of funny in a strange way how mismatched the Goldbergs feel. Murray and Beverly together don’t make a lot of sense in my mind, and though the three kids feel like typical three kids in a family, for some strange reason, Adam, Barry, and Erica still seem mismatched. But in the strangest way of all, it works. And though you can always expect the cheesy resolve with forgiveness and gathering at the end, it never feels forced or out of place. In a lot of ways, The Goldbergs feels like a typical 80’s sitcom – a dysfunctional family that learns to resolve their differences and come together by the end of the episode. And this episode wrapped up that idea nicely.
Season 4, Episode 8 (S04E08)
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