The Goldbergs manages another solid mid-season episode with “The Hooters.” No, the episode isn’t about tanktop-clad, big-busted women and chicken wings, it’s about the 80’s band that was clearly overshadowed by tanktop-clad, big-busted women and chicken wings. And in fact, most of the episode isn’t even about the Hooters. Very little of the Hooters is actually part of this episode.
The episode is really about Adam’s fight to prove to Murray that he’s funny and Beverly and Geoff’s fight to prove to Erica that she’s not really some snooty snob. While the secondary plot – Erica’s “posh” phase – is a bit weak overall (there’s not a whole lot going on in this storyline), the actual episode is fairly strong, offering some great gags and bits that really go over well. Particularly with Adam’s storyline, it turns the entire story arc into some sort of meta inside joke, where the whole time that Murray is doubting Adam’s ability to make a career out of making people laugh, we’re watching the episode going, “Jokes on you, Murray!”
In a way there’s almost something genius about doing an episode where Adam tries to prove that he’s funny, because there’s literally no way to mess it up. Either the episode actually is funny on purpose – like it was – and we as viewers get to smile to ourselves knowing there’s another layer of irony to Murray’s insistence that Adam can’t make a career out of comedy, OR, the episode isn’t funny despite its attempts to be, and then there’s an added layer of ironic humor in knowing that Murray is right, despite Adam’s attempts to insist otherwise, and the show as contradictory proof. Genius.
I would like to take a moment here to give a special shout out to whoever came up with the woodshop teacher persona and the gag about his honoring the wood due to his time spent in Vietnam as a prisoner of war. It takes a special kind of comedic genius to find a way to make a POW of Vietnam funny without actually disrespecting POWs from Vietnam. And my goodness, is that bit funny.
I’d even go as far to say that it’s a true highlight of the season. Honestly, if someone was to pull clips of the best jokes from any episodes in this season, that scene in the principal’s office where Adam’s woodshop teacher is telling his origin story about learning to honor the wood to Adam and Murray would be right there at the top. Absolutely hilarious.
I also like the pairing of Adam and Murray together, as I’ve mentioned before. This is a less frequent pairing so I think it’s refreshing to watch. Though this episode does seem to repeat pairing we’ve just recently had. I believe it was just two episodes ago that we had Barry trying to teach Beverly how to win friends and influence people in “The Goldberg Girls,” and now he’s trying to teach Beverly and Geoff how to have ‘class’ – Clothes, Laughs, Accent, Snooty Sauce. So that feels a little repetitive, unfortunately.
Overall, though, this episode and this entire season has just been a delight. Best of all, this is turning out to be the season of Murray. If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while you’ll know that I mentioned that last season we didn’t get to see Murray take a lot of large involvement in the show’s storylines, and I found that disappointing because Murray is truly my favorite character. This seasons seems to be trying to make up for that with Murray featuring at the center of nearly every episode, and it’s been great. We’ve learned so much about Murray’s character this season and it’s only made him that much more loveable as a character. There’s a lot of great dynamics going on in Murray’s personality and it’s part of what makes this show so great and so dimensional.
Let’s hope this episode is a positive sign that the last half of the season will finish out just as strong.
Season 5, Episode 13 (S05E13)
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