Apr 17 2015

The Goldbergs – “Just Say No” Retrospective. Got the stuff?


Season 2, Episode 20

Air Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 9:30/8:30c on ABC


“Narc is just another word for hero.” – Beverly

Who would you vote for?

Who would you vote for?

With the presidential election fast approaching, Erica (Hayley Orrantia) is shocked to discover Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) blindly follows Murray’s (Jeff Garlin) voting choices, selecting the same people he does. Determined to change Beverly’s voting habits, Erica sets out to educate her mother. Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned as Erica ends up creating a monster.

I hate to admit it but Erica’s first mention of supporting Walter “Fritz” Mondale (unseen) in his presidential bid had me laughing even before the first joke was told. Growing up in Minnesota, Mondale was a household name. Not only was he a US Senator for Minnesota, he served as Vice President under President Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, “Just Say No” serves as a painful reminder of his failed presidential run in 1984 where the only state he won was Minnesota.

Orrantia gives a wonderful performance, particularly when Erica shows some real passion for something other than boys and music. It’s nice seeing Erica take Beverly on while having an actual mother/daughter debate about a real topic like politics.

Beverly going all in.

Beverly going all in.

Erica’s plan to get Beverly to support Mondale and his female running mate, Geraldine Ferraro (unseen) quickly backfires when Beverly learns about Nancy Reagan’s (unseen) “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. Determined to rid the world, or at least Erica’s school, of drugs, Beverly sets off on her own campaign, one Nancy would surely be proud of.

Meanwhile, Barry (Troy Gentile) feels he is not getting the respect he deserves from a group of preppy kids from the neighboring town. Determined to show his toughness after running away from a confrontation with them, Barry enlists Adam’s (Sean Giambrone) help to submit a video audition tape to the show American Gladiators.

I’m embarrassed to confess I loved American Gladiators as a kid. After all, it’s a show that pits average people against muscled freaks with names like Nitro, Laser, Titan, and Turbo in a contest of strength and agility.


Nitro, Laser, Titan, and Barry?

Adam realizes Barry’s audition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be so he decides to get even for the years of torture and humiliation he’s been subjected to by his brother by sending Barry’s audition tape to America’s Funniest Home Videos. The chemistry between Gentile and Giambrone really shines through in “Just Say No,” providing an authentic brotherly feel I find relatable.

“Just Say No” is one of those episodes of The Goldbergs I wish had been broken into two episodes because both story lines, while enjoyable, feel like they were not fully allowed to develop due to time restraints.

In Beverly’s case, I wanted to have more of an evolution as she jumps on the Nancy Reagan band wagon. Beverly’s ‘just say no campaign’ is also entertaining but it too feels rushed. The same applies to Barry and Adam’s scenes. As someone with a younger brother, I appreciate the roughhousing when Adam becomes Barry’s punching bag but I would have enjoyed seeing more substance in their scenes.

Overall, “Just Say No” is an entertaining episode with some funny moments; however, it falls short when compared to other classic episodes of The Goldbergs. The episode isn’t bad; it simply lacks the time and potential material the story lines deserve.

Tweet me @Staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Just Say No.”

Tune in to The Goldbergs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c, only on ABC.

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All photos © 2015 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


© 2015, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.

Greg Staffa

I provide testosterone to the site. You won’t be reading about how nice a actress looks in a dress or how much of a hunk Matt Bomer is in my reviews. I describe colors using words like brown, not taupe. My twitter name is @staffaroadtrip because I love road trips and have done two different 48-state road trips since 2008. My favorite show is White Collar.

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