Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beverly Goldberg Is The New Lucy Ricardo

Beverly Goldberg has a bit of a mouth. Beverly Goldberg wears ugly sweaters. Beverly Goldberg loves her children way too openly. There is no one else on television quite like her and you may have to think for a while to recall the last time a sitcom aired in which the mother is as audacious and unconventional as she is. 

Played by the brilliant Wendi McLendon-Covey, Beverly Goldberg is the colorful, caring, very Jewish mother of a 1980-something family in Jenkintown, PA. The Goldbergs depicts a family as the children come of age and travel to places like Wawa, Veterans Stadium, and the mall. The Goldbergs thrives on recreating eighties moments big and small with so many great family scenes that are centered around the involvement of their mom.

More than some other family sitcoms, the premise of The Goldbergs has allowed for the growth of a character like Beverly. The show is created by Adam F. Goldberg, who loosely situates the show around his family and the area and era surrounding his childhood. Because the character of Beverly Goldberg is based on the actual Beverly Goldberg, the Mom Moments help her be much more believable. McClendon-Covey even wears some of the quintessentially '80s clothes from the real Beverly Goldberg's own wardrobe. The brazen fashion of some of those bedazzled sweaters is not a mere recreation, but the genuine article of clothing. 

What makes Beverly Goldberg so real are the little things. McLendon-Covey infuses a lot of Mom Quirks into her character. That helps to create moments that are filled with tension as she horrifies her teenagers in ways that only a mother can. She makes the hand gestures for "need to make," smothers them with love as their classmates look on, and (even worse) wants to hang out with them. From sneaking into a high school Halloween party and treating a Cabbage Patch doll like a child, Beverly also has more than her fair share of over-the-top moments.

Perhaps an accurate reflection of reality, most mothers in family sitcoms are the straight-laced characters who roll their eyes at her husband's antics and keep the family together. Clair Huxtable shook her head at Cliff, Debra Barone struggled with the in-laws, and Jill Taylor drove Tim to the emergency room. They may have their crazy moments, but it is rare to find a traditional family sitcom where the mother is the most outlandish character. Lucy Ricardo is the rare exception and Lucielle Ball may be the only other actress to play the mom role with the physicality to do things like tussling with her own son in a high school wrestling match and Jazzercise with such gusto. 

What ultimately allows the character of Beverly Goldberg to be so endearing is that she loves her children. While the way in which she shows affection sometimes stand apart from other sitcom matriarchs, it also grounds her character and makes it so authentic. So many mothers go the extra mile for their children. Beverly Goldberg would run a marathon for them (in bold workout attire). 

There are so many great sitcom moms, but Mrs. Goldberg is unique. If her character was portrayed less crassly, The Goldbergs would miss out on its best laughs and some of their greatest moments as a television family. The way in which Beverly Goldberg is portrayed gives her character a rare place in television. Wendi McLendon-Covey is creating a special legacy by creating a personality who is changing what we have come to expect from the role of a mother in a family sitcom. 

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