ABC sitcom 'The Goldbergs' is easily the best show currently on television (totally unbiased view!). It is based upon the real life of writer Adam F. Goldberg, who grew up in the 80s. The show is heavily steeped in 80s nostalgia and discusses all of the pop culture at the height of the decade – Terminator, MTV, the Karate Kid, Camcorders, Knight Rider, Transformers, Jazzercise, the Bangles, the Goonies, taping stuff off the radio, the Rubik's cube... of course the Shopping Mall appears frequently. Whether they're at the Mall hanging out, becoming supermodels, registering for teledating, becoming Tiffany-famous or finding jobs, they spend a large deal of time there, much like most kids of the 80s and 90s.
Sweep the leg! (Disney ABC Press)
The first time we see the Mall is when Erica, the slightly scary but otherwise good-hearted sister, gets a job at Gimbel's and, long story short, gets her mother put in Mall jail. Another Mall encounter is when Adam's slightly insane and extremely volatile big bro Barry gets 'discovered' by a 'fashion scout' at the Mall. Of course the guy is a fraud and there are no jobs for Barry on the horizon. That being said though, he does single-handedly invent the mom/son supermodel combo genre! In series 2, episode 17 (' the Adam bomb'), Erica discovers that Tiffany will be performing at her local Mall as part of her now-famous big Mall tour of 1987. She goes through desperate measures to get a demo tape recorded and then tries to give it one of the Tiffany tour's bouncers, who proceeds to take the tape and puts it in a basket with the zillion other demo's. Seeing this, she decides to play for Tiffany directly. She runs outside, acoustic guitar in hand, and finds about 300 other girls waiting there for Tiffany, including her best friend Lainey and her High School music teacher!
On another occasion, Adam and Pops (Adam's beloved and spritely Grandfather) decide to take in a timeshare presentation at their local Mall in order to get free Cinema tickets. The idea backfires, however, when Pops decides to buy into the Florida timeshare. This devastates Adam. In 'I heart video dating' (season 4), Erica becomes obsessed with finding a date for Lainey's father, who is becoming increasingly desperate and pathetic. On seeing a Mall video dating service, she decides that this is the way forward (spoiler: it isn't!). It turns out, though, that this attempt to find love for someone else is just Erica projecting her lack of luck in the love department. One last instance involves Adam's idiot Uncle, who is seriously lost (in the philosophical sense!) and has a different vocation with every visit. This time he has become a Mall Security Officer, and we discover that Michael Knight's beloved partner, K.I.T.T., is being kept in the Mall's parking lot for an upcoming parade. Disaster ensues, the details of which we won't go into here.
Disney ABC Press
One of the more notable Goldberg Mother/Son Hallowe'en costumes (Disney ABC Press)
As you can see, Malls play a big part in the Goldbergs and, rather predictably, we here at Mallrate find this a very good thing indeed! The Mall in question is the Willow Grove Park Mall in Pennsylvania. This is a 3-level, 130 store Mall which opened in 1982 and is the go-to Shopping destination for those in the larger Philadelphia area. It is a beautiful, classic American Mall and one we hope to visit soon. Even the shops would turn the most world-hardened hearts into warm puddles of happiness – TGI Friday's, Abercrombie, Bloomingdales, Apple, Cheesecake Factory, Gamestop - the big names are all there.
An interesting note is that the Mall they talk about in the show is more than likely the Mall where the real-life events that inspired these episodes actually took place. Adam Goldberg is the first to say that the places and adventures of his childhood are a major source of inspiration for the show. One especially nice touch is when we get to see actual home-video clips at the end of the episodes. Very often whole chunks of the show are copied verbatim from these home videos and add so much to the nostalgia and enjoyment.
Willow Grove Park Mall as it is today
Barry getting discovered by a totally legit modelling scout at the Mall
At this point the Goldbergs has spanned four seasons, which attests to the fact the the show has tapped into a deep love of simple humour and 80s culture. There is even talk of a spin-off show about a boy growing up in the 90s, which we will look out for with great interest. The cast is hilarious, there are no weak links, a stand being veteran actor George Segal who plays Pops. At 83 he is still killing it. However, our personal favourite is Barry (played by Troy Gentile) – the disparity between how great he thinks he is at every insane skill he turns his hand to and how useless he actually is at them all, is a source of some seriously funny bits and the show would not be the same without him. The role call of celebrity guest stars is also huge – David Spade, Charlie Sheen, Weird Al Yankovic and Martin Kove to name a few. Kove was especially hilarious in his reprisal as top 80s villain, Cobra Kai Sensei John Kreese.
If you haven't seen this great show yet, please give it a watch. We promise you won't be disappointed!