ABC’s The Goldbergs is a love letter the 1980s and contains a veritable cornucopia of pop culture references and jokes about decade in each and every single episode. While it’s next to impossible to list every single 1980s reference on The Goldbergs, we’re going to run down some of each episode’s geekier and more obscure pop culture moments. Please note that this column tries to cover only the “unique” references that appear in each episode, while passing on the posters, toys and other background pieces that appear in every episode and are irrelevant to the plot.
Tom Selleck and his stupid sexy mustache causes a lot of problems for the Goldbergs this week. Selleck is best known for his breakout role as the private eye Magnum in the hit CBS series Magnum PI. As Magnum, Selleck hit the mean streets of Hawaii in his red Ferrari, solving crimes and living a bachelor’s life most men would die to have. The only downside to playing Magnum was that Selleck had to pass a chance to play Indiana Jones, leading to Harrison Ford taking the iconic role. Selleck mainly stayed with television roles after Magnum PI ended, with a prominent guest role on Friends (as Monica’s older boyfriend) and a starring role in the still running CBS series Blue Bloods.
The ABC series Charlie’s Angels also gets a few shoutouts this episode, as the show seems to be one of Beverly and Murray’s favorite series. Charlie’s Angels was another detective show, with a shifting cast of three beautiful women solving crimes and stopping bad guys while working for the unseen Charlie Townsend. While many critics blasted the show as vapid, empty entertainment watched only to see what scantily clad outfit the Angels would wear next, Charlie’s Angels was surprisingly popular and lasted for five seasons. ABC later rebooted Charlie’s Angels into two movies (starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu) and a 2011 TV series that only lasted 13 episodes.
Barry tries to imitate the popular glam singer Boy George with disastrous results, causing him to break off his relationship with Lainey. Boy George was the lead singer of the band Culture Club, a group popular during the 1980s. Culture Club’s two biggest hits were “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” (which Barry quotes when he temporarily breaks up with Lainey) and the lighter “Karma Chameleon”. Boy George gained a lot of attention for his unique fashion sense and androgynous looks, leading to plenty of questions about his sexuality. While George largely avoided questions about his personal life, he secretly was in a relationship with Culture Club drummer Jon Moss, which would eventually play a role in the band breaking up in the late 1980s. George had a somewhat successful solo career, stayed in the British news due to his recurring legal problems, and is now appearing on the British version of The Voice as one of the judges.
Lainey asks if Chuck Norris would be available to help her get back together with Barry, since he’s a big fan of the action star. While he’s best known today for the 1990s TV series Walker, Texas Ranger, Norris was a mainstay in kung-fu and war action movies during the 1980s, having established his movie career in the 1970s as the bad guy in the Bruce Lee movie Return of the Dragon. Norris is still active in acting, despite being 75 years old, and gained renewed popularity due to a series of Internet “facts” embellishing his physique, love of roundhouse kicks and all around manliness.
In his only appearance this episode, Adam wears a t-shirt featuring the distinctive cracked egg from Alien. It's hard to believe the classic movie (which spawned a host of sequels and the Prometheus movies) is almost 30 years old.