Goldbergs Recap: “Rad!”/”Hersheypark”
The Goldbergs has a knack for getting amazing guest actors (remember when Rick Springfield sang “Jessie’s Girl” at karaoke? I C O N I C). It also has some of the funniest, well-rounded recurring characters in sitcom television right now, here’s looking at you Uncle Marvin and John Calabasas. I contest, however, that the greatest recurring character on the G’bergs is none other than the family chalkboard, henceforth referred to as “Chalkie”. Chalkie is such a giving performer, never one to steal the spotlight but use it’s space and screen time effectively. Think of all the times Barry uses Chalkie for brainstorming all his awesome ideas (Tasty Boys “Rap Group To Do List” and Eddie the Eagle “Path to Glory” spring to mind). Chalkie is a scene partner that goes toe to toe with comedy’s best, Jeff Garlin and Wendi McLendon-Covey, as seen in these past two episodes, when Murray and Beverly put on their professor hats to part some wisdom on impressionable minds. Chalkie is truly the unsung hero of the show. Both RAD! and Hersheypark had some of the best chalkie storylines in the series. Let’s talk about it!
Let’s Get Fiscal-
In an episode where Rick Springfield guest stars as karaoke bar owner, Gary “Gary-oke” Globberman, Chalkie still outshines him as Murray’s “How Not to be a Money Moron” lesson companion, but we’ll get to that. First, though, we see Mr. Springfield’s crush it as Erica’s new boss.
We start with Erica landing a waitress gig at a karaoke bar in hopes of making it big. Bev finds out and tries to get the frentas (dressed in homemade Bev sweaters) to support Erica at her new job, but is quickly turned down when Erica told her not to show up at her work (fair but also majorly rude). Bev actually listens this time and stays away, as any good gal pal would. However, its Mr. Springfield’s, Gary, who insists that Erica bring people to the bar, because duh it’s a bar that makes money off butts in seats ordering food and drink. Erica begrudgingly asks Bev and the frentas to come to Gary-oke’s but only if they don’t embarrass her (such a teenager move *sigh*). Of course, even though Bev isn’t trying to meddle, Erica gets mad at her anyways and ask that her and the frentas leave. They do not. Thus begins a hilarious montage of Bev, the frentas, and Gary, singing karaoke. Side note: Mr. Springfield plays a very convincing “bad singer” as he and Bev do a duet of “Jessie’s Girl”, epic. An annoyed Erica tries to apologize for her mother but it’s Gary who claps back at Erica and reminds her that her mother is super awesome to everyone but Erica as she hasn’t matured yet *ouch*. In the end, Erica apologizes to Bev and they makeup, moving forward as gal pals who respect each other.
Now on to Chalkie. It all begins when Pops gifts Barry and Lainey a $500 savings bond* to start their “nest egg” for when they get married. A thoughtful and extremely accurate grandparent gift from Pops, but of course Barry and Lainey being the dumb morons they are, immediately blow that money on a Mongoose BMX bike and a keytar. Blainey tries asking Pops for “one more nest egg”, because you know it’s “hard not to buy stuff when you really want to buy stuff”, but Murray stops them in their tracks informing them that they must start recognizing their financial limits and establish a “spender” (Lainey, natch) and a “saver” (Barry, aka mini-Murray) in the relationship. And so begins Murray’s lesson in the art of saving.
*Quick finance lesson: a paper series EE savings bond (which is what Pops bought for Blainey) is purchased at half value (so $250 in this case) and guaranteed to be worth face value ($500) in 20 years from the time of purchase. Also, a bondholder can’t redeem a bond for at least one year. Thus, not sure what money Barry or Lainey used to purchase their frivolous gifts but it sure wasn’t that savings bond.
We pick up with Professor Murray teaching Barry on “How Not to be a Money Moron” with his trusty sidekick, Chalkie (See how Chalkie never steals the spotlight but complements his scene partner? Just give it an Emmy already). Seems like Mur is getting through to an “almost listening” Barry has he is finally grasping kindergarten level financial concepts like “if I save money, I’ll have more of it”. But it seems to be a moot point as a week later, having only saved $6 bucks, Barry decides to screw the saving and earn money the old-fashion way, trying to get on the fictional RAD! BMX circuit while Lainey plays keytar in the background. Murray again stops Blainey in their tracks and confesses they’re not ready to get married because they’re immature. Blainey angrily bikes off as Pops reminds Mur that in the beginning Murray was aimless without a job but was able to sustain a life with Beverly because they were in love, much like Blainey. *cue the music* Murray comes home to Blainey selling the BMX and keytar as a pair, because just makes sense. He tells them that he opened a savings account for Barry and that they’ll figure out the finance stuff as they get older, but the important thing in the beginning is that all you need is love AWWWWWWW *heart emoji*. Once again Blainey survives another day as an engaged couple, now with Murray seemingly on-board. Two parents down, one to go, and I can only impatiently imagine what’ll take for Bill to get on board with this union, *fingers crossed* we find out soon.
Chalkie highlights: No AC ever, yellow must mellow, toast on low, hand blender, flip your underwear.
Bev’s “Snuggie” Theory-
Another Chalkie stand out as this time it assists Bev in teaching the other parents the “Snuggie Theory”*. We also see a glimpse of a “Geoffolution” as Geoff questions his future as an eye doctor.
*A play off of behavioral economist, Richard Thaler’s, Nobel Award winning concept, the “Nudge Theory”, the “Snuggie Theory” posits how carefully crafted reminders and activities encourage more desirable outcomes by leveraging how people naturally think and feel. Basically, Bev writes “guilt” letters to her kids (the reminder), making them feel guilty (manipulating their feelings), to receive love and snuggies from them (desirable outcome). Beverly Goldberg always says she “could’ve been a lawyer”, but she also was applying an economic theory decades before it was popularized, so she also could’ve been a damn fine behavioral economist as well.
Adam and his friends are excited to go on the class trip to Hersheypark, the only problem is, Beverly is signed on as a parent chaperone. Apparently, all other kids were able to persuade their parents to stop chaperoning class trips (Dave Kim even told his mom to “go flight a kite” whilst at the Ben Franklin Museum) years ago but of course Bev continues to insert herself in Adams life at any chance she gets. Adam briefly tricks Bev into thinking the class trip is cancelled but she finds out Adam lied to her and ends up writing a scathing guilt letter so that Adam will beg her to chaperone again (perfectly executing the Snuggie Theory imo). She also manages to teach the other parents all about the Snuggie Theory which they utilize to write their own guilt letters forcing their children to let them chaperone the class trip as well. A truly gifted comedic scene with Bev and Chalkie as she explains how the best emotional blackmail manipulates your children to love you. Again, Chalkie never outshines Bev but merely highlights Wendi’s always outstanding performance. Once at Hersheypark the kids finally figure out that they all got the same guilt letter from their parents leading to a confrontation between the kids and adults. Adam storms off, Bev goes after him, and what follows is LITERALLY the funniest scene in Goldbergs history: the rollercoaster scene. Impossible to describe so I urge you to go to the 16:58 (on Hulu) mark in the episode and watch that scene on loop. Trust me. It’ll be worth it. Once Bev and Adam exit the roller-coaster they have a tender moment where Bev promises to lay off the guilt letters as she still has Barry and Erica to guilt.
Over on the B-side, Geoff realizes at the school career fair that he doesn’t want to be an eye doctor like his father and is somehow forced into being Murray’s “intern” (which is really just moving furniture for Murray at the Ottoman Empire). During his time with Mur, Geoff goes through a “Geoffolution” and becomes “New Geoff” after he heeds Murray’s advice to stick up for himself. As such, he tells his father he no longer wants to be an eye doctor, Barry that he is the new leader of the JTP (JTP!), and Erica that he will no longer fold her sweaters (which she is immediately turned on by, same). New Geoff even goes off on Coach Mellor, Bev Bomb style, after refusing to scoop up the balls in gym class. If Erica had witnessed that interaction between Geoff, Barry, and Coach Mellor, she would’ve been all over Geoff, again, same. In the end, Murray “I’m not involved” Goldberg helps Dr. Schwartz realize that it’s Geoff’s life and he should just support Geoff in whatever field he goes into. We see Lou and Geoff patch things and looks like New Geoff was a short-lived phase as he’s already back to folding Erica’s sweaters. Here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of New Geoff because he definitely brought some much needed assertiveness to his character.
Both episodes did a great job highlighting the delicate line parents struggle with everyday of wanting to protect their kids but also allowing their kids grow and learn from their mistakes on their own. Of course, two more Emmy-reel episodes for Chalkie’s performances as I continue to look forward to what Chalkie will bring to the board in future eps.
Chalkie highlights: MAMA = Manipulating Always for Maximum Attention, Real Tears = Real Results, Emotional blackmail is your friend, the Law of Diminishing Returns graph (Bev, you should’ve been an economics professor).