'The Goldbergs' tickles parenting's funny bone

'The Goldbergs,' a new ABC comedy highlighting the chaos tinged with humor that can overwhelm family life, hit close to home for this mom, who says the show put the 'real' in really funny.

AP Photo/ABC, Eric McCandless
Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, George Segal, Troy Gentile, Sean Giambrone and Hayley Orrantia in a scene from 'The Goldbergs,' a new family sitcom that premiered on ABC last night.

There are people who become great parents because they were raised in an idyllic home, for everyone else who arrives at parenthood vowing not to create a family like the one we came from, there is the new ABC comedy "The Goldbergs."

"The Goldbergs" is a lot like "The Waltons," if they were completely dysfunctional, living in the ‘80s, and John Boy documented the clan using a video camera locked on target 24-7 instead of writing soulful observations.

The series’ creator, Adam F. Goldberg is a real person who experienced childhood in the 1980s with parents who kvetched, shouted, and malfunctioned to the maximum extent allowable by the laws of human nature. "The Goldbergs" is autobiographical, based on Goldberg’s old videos he shot of his family in suburban Jenkintown, Pa. when he was 11 years old, in the 1980s, according to his profile on IMDB.

The show stars Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey, George Segal, and Sean Giambrone as a young Adam.

As a bonus, parents may recognize the narrator’s familiar voice as that of the character Remy in Ratatouille, Patton Oswalt.

While critics have taken issue with the fact that the parents and their actions are predictable I think that reveals more about the childhoods of the critics than the show.

My guess is that the critics who don’t like the show survived this kind of family lunacy and failed to survive it by finding the humor in the insanity that is parenting.

Having become my mother on several dozen occasions since having kids of my own I can watch this show and laugh at her, myself, and my sons who document all my worst moments and will live them with their own kids no matter how hard they try not to.

I saw many of those moments in "The Goldbergs" which premiered last night on ABC.

It’s parent vs. grandparent, parent vs. teen with all the predictable mayhem that gets handled in ways that every imperfect parent has ever botched the job. That’s what puts the “real” in really funny.

The pilot that aired last night revolves around “The circle of driving” and explores the issues of parents teaching teens to drive, while also taking the keys away from their own parents who have become too dangerous on the road.

In one scene the dad takes his older son out for his first driving lesson could have been shot in the car with me and my son Ian. That was the disaster lesson of all time, and seeing the Goldberg version unfold I was weak with laughter.

That raving, borderline irrational father-son combo was me and Ian. Only in the Goldberg version there is the younger son in the back seat and the older son reaches back to swat him into silence during the lesson.

“No hitting the kid in the back seat!” the father bellows. “That’s way too advanced.”

In another scene the Goldberg dad is awaiting the return of a teenage son ensconced in his easy chair which has been dragged across the living room to face the front door.

Dad greets son in a bathrobe and a frown with arms folded. That dad is my mother. She did that. I lived it, only it was a loveseat in front of the door.

Don’t listen to the critics. Pull up a chair, perhaps the one currently in front of the door, and watch with the kids. The family that laughs together can survive anything life sends their way.

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