During a TCA set visit for ABC’s The Goldbergs, reporters immediately were sent into a time warp. From VHS tapes to Star Wars action figures to pastel-hued home furnishings, the set of the Adam F. Goldberg sitcom spares no expense in making you feel like you were in the 1980s. This also applies to the wardrobe — to which star Wendi McLendon-Covey can attest. Playing Beverly, the Goldbergs’ matriarch, she explains how and why women during that era dressed the way they did.
“This is rayon, and it doesn’t breathe,” she said, still dressed in a funky belted jumpsuit from shooting that day. “But dammit, if it was August and they had it, they were gonna wear it. Your face was done all the time — you would not just go outside in a baseball cap and yoga pants. You had to be done!”
For Jeff Garlin, who plays McLendon-Covey’s husband Murray, he has a different kind of wardrobe. He is often seen in his underwear on the show. Garlin has learned a lot since the first episode and has become discerning with dropping his pants.
“In the first episode [I wore] regular tighty whities — censors had a field day with that. My wiener was doing a little too much,” he said. “Then they added this foam wiener pad — now that’s in there. Now they say they see movement and shadows.”
But when it comes to taking his pants off and walking around in his underwear (he had his pants on during the set tour, by the way), Garlin won’t just do it for a laugh. “It’s like being an actress who has to be in her underwear or topless — is it important to the story?” he said. “There have been times when it just has been me in my underwear and I say ‘No, because it’s a gag.’ I like when [on the show] I come home, take my pants off and go to the chair — there’s a reason for that. There’s been half-dozen times I shut it down.”
Garlin points out how strange it can be as an adult man walking around set in his underwear around kids. Hayley Orrantia, whose character Erica, the oldest Goldberg kid, is heading off to college in the forthcoming season, agrees, “There was one scene when i was uncomfortable when it was just you and me,” she said to Garlin. “While we’re having a conversation you just take [your pants] off in front of me. That was just a little weird.”
Now coming into its fifth season, The Goldbergs is known for using pop culture references from the ’80s as a starting point for many episodes. Seeing that Adam (a young version of the show’s creator, played by Sean Giamborne) is obsessed with movies, many classic films inspire episodes. McLendon-Covey mentions that in this season they will be taking on the 1985 sci-fi comedy Weird Science starring Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Michael Hall, and Kelly Lebrock. She says that the episode pays straightforward homage movie by having the boys try to build a girl by using a computer.
“I don’t want to spoil it for you, but it doesn’t work, you guys,” she teases. “You’re going to see George Segal with a bra on his head saying, ‘I thought you guys wanted to learn to unhook ’em like normal kids.'”