Over five seasons, the ABC sitcom The Goldbergs has played tribute to just about every aspect of the Eighties that you can imagine. Nostalgia trips like Top Gun, NFL rap videos, and Risky Business have all been a part of the series. The Goldbergs also loves to reference its 1980-something home: suburban Philadelphia. Area staples like The Mann, The Hooters, and The Spectrum have all been featured on the show in some form. In many instances, the series has gone to great lengths to create an accurate representation of these spots. The current season has been particularly loaded with Philadelphia references. Here are the five best Philly moments on The Goldbergs (and one they got wrong):
The Best Philly Moments On The Goldbergs
Philadelphia Eagles (“Hail Barry,” Season 5, Episode 14) – Barry Goldberg’s desire to play football came out of nowhere. As it turns out, how Barry wound up playing for his high school football team does not matter. The episode “Hail Barry” was a great excuse to squeeze some Philadelphia Eagles moments into The Goldbergs.
Filmed while the Eagles were in Los Angeles last season, Eagles broadcasters Mick Quick and Merrill Reese made cameos. Eagles executives Don Smolenski and Howie Roseman also briefly appear in the episode. “Hail Barry” ends with the actual JTP (Barry’s Jenkintown Posse) playing touch football against the actors who portray their real-life characters on the show. Quick, a former Eagle from that era, even played quarterback in the game. This episode was a fun way to celebrate this year’s Super Bowl victory.
Ruben Amaro Jr. Plays Ruben Amaro Sr. (“The Goldberg Girls,” Season 5 – Episode 11) – The Goldbergs frequently name-drop Ruben Amaro Jr. Amaro attended Penn Charter, the same school as show creator Adam F. Goldberg. Both Amaro and his father played baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies. Amaro Jr. later went on to become General Manager of the Phillies for seven seasons.
Amaro Jr. briefly appears as his own father in Season Five’s “The Goldberg Girls.” In the episode Amaro pops up in the middle of a school meeting and is scolded by Beverly Goldberg. Amaro’s cameo was a quick and funny way to tie the past with the present.
Barry Goldberg’s Flyers Shirt (“Big Orange,” Season 3 – Episode 23) – We all have a go-to comfort outfit, but leave it to Barry Goldberg to take something to the extreme. Barry’s love affair with his Philadelphia Flyers t-shirt “Big Orange” turned out to be a neat way to remember the little things that are with us during big moments.
The episode “Big Orange” also paid tribute to Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider. Snider brought hockey to Philadelphia in 1967 and owned the Flyers until his death in 2016. The longtime Philadelphia fixture had passed away just a month before the episode aired. The series has paid tributes to so many people, but the tie-in of a beloved Flyers t-shirt with Snider’s death makes “Big Orange” one of the most special episodes of The Goldbergs.
The Best Cheesesteaks Are In… Camden, NJ? (“Adam Spielberg,” Season 5 – Episode 15) – Arguing over the best cheesesteaks in Philadelphia is the most Philly thing possible. There is never a right answer. Only a wrong one. While Adam F. Goldberg probably wrote this in for the benefit of the national audience, few in Philadelphia would ever include Pat’s or Geno’s in a circular exchange like Murray and Pops. A true “best cheesesteak” argument usually lays claim to a less touristy spot (Jim’s on South Street for me).
For Barry Goldberg, the best cheesesteak is in Camden, New Jersey. Before that episode I had never heard of Donkey’s Place. I honestly had the same incredulous look that Murray has on his face as Barry tells him the best spot is in New Jersey. In addition to the cheesesteaks, the Indiana Jones tie-in is brilliant. From Coach having a special room to Barry and Murray driving with the Indiana Jones map in the background, this entire episode was really well done.
Adam Goldberg Gets Lost At The Vet (“The Lost Boy,” Season 2, Episode 11) – The Season Two episode “The Lost Boy” is my favorite episode of The Goldbergs. It resonates with me more than any other episode on the series. I spent a large portion of my youth going to Veterans Stadium to watch underwhelming Phillies teams with my Dad.
In the episode Adam and Murray go to The Vet. Adam gets lost while he is at the Phillies game, creating an emotional scene between father and son. I never got lost at The Vet (thankfully), but the moment was a throwback to a lot of memories. Watching The Lost Boy is like going on a trip through time. This nostalgia is partially tied into how well the production crew recreated Veterans Stadium. The hallways, the signage, and the Phanatic all brought back memories. And yes, The Vet’s bathrooms were really that disgusting.
The One Philly Thing That The Goldbergs Got Wrong
Barry Tries To Buy Beer At Wawa (“Love Is A Mixtape,” Season 2, Episode 1) – Show creator Adam F. Goldberg grew up in Jenkinton, PA. Both the production crew and Goldberg usually go to incredible lengths to recreate Philadelphia and the Eighties. He did get one Philly scene wrong.
In Season Two Barry Goldberg talks about buying beer at a Wawa convenience store. While this may seem normal to the rest of the country, Pennsylvania has antiquated Blue Laws. Under these laws, no one could have purchased beer at a Wawa in 1980-something (or 2000-something for that matter). Until 2016, you couldn’t even buy beer in a Pennsylvania grocery store. You still can’t buy beer at most gas stations or convenience stores in Pennsylvania in 2018. Goldberg does get points for name-dropping Lee’s Hoagie House in the episode. The local chain features some of the best hoagie shops in Philadelphia.
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