The main problem is that Murray, Barry, Beverly, and Albert are obnoxious. Murray thinks all of his children are morons and feels the need to remind them repeatedly. He makes fun of Barry for taking up roller-skating because it is uncool. Murray, who would mock Barry anyway, uses mocking one child as a way to bond with another one, his daughter, Erica. Barry exists just to whine about his life, to have Murray criticize him, and insist he’s going to be a famous rapper.
Beverly smothers Adam and makes his life miserable. He’s going into 7th grade, yet she insists on dressing him in clothing more appropriate for a toddler: a train sweater. Fortunately, Grandpa Albert understands that Adam needs to be able to pick out his own clothes and takes him shopping. Unfortunately, Beverly purposely ruins Adam’s stylish new outfit in the wash because she doesn’t want him to grow up. She does eventually come around and buy Adam a replacement outfit, but he antics leading up to that comes after she proves that the youngest member of the family is the least codependent.
Albert is the only character that can get away with being a curmudgeon. The man’s old and lives in a world he no longer understands. He admits seeing a salesperson with pierced nipples scares him. Albert may be out of touch, but at least he knows it. Murray, Barry, and Beverly can’t use that as an excuse. However, Albert becomes grating when combined with the later three. If Murray and Beverly were toned down, Albert wouldn’t seem so bad. There’s no saving Barry, who should disappear like Chuck Cunningham, but can’t because he is an integral part of the show, albeit the worst part.
Then, there’s the forgettable Erica. She is every bratty teenage girl with a father that doesn’t understand “girl problems” or “women issues.” Granted, Murray is worse than most fathers when it comes to that time of the month so you can forgive Erica for being bratty and not wanting to bond with her father. She has to deal with a man who won’t allow a closed box of clean tampons in the same bag as food for fear of contamination.
For some reason, The Goldberg recreates the 80s with modern sensibilities. There’s bleeped cursing because one of the writers heard it’s funny on network television. Apparently, they didn’t realize it’s only funny when it’s shocking and has a purpose. When the show is told from the point of view of a man who was a 7th grader at the time, it’s actually a little disturbing that he remembers his father and grandfather freely dropping f-bombs and other profanities.
The writers also have a tendency to have 7th grade Adam phrase things the same way a current 7th grader would. When Beverly asks him who’s cooler than her, he answers “all the people,” which is a saying that has recently entered pop culture. It would have sounded more natural had Adam responded, “Everyone.” Hopefully, the writers realize kids in the 80s didn’t have the same slang as modern kids, which they should since they grew up in the 80s. Just because a writer has a character deliver the occasional “fresh” to describe an outfit, doesn’t make the show set in the 80.
The Goldbergs, which is currently averaging around 9 million viewers, may be riding a wave of 80s nostalgia, but its quality is as dubious as the outfits Beverly wears.