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.
Unsurprisingly, "A Kick Ass Risky Business Party" is heavy on references to Risky Business, the 1983 romantic comedy that turned Tom Cruise into a major movie star. Cruise plays a high school student whose weekend of freedom away from his parents spirals increasingly out of control after he befriends a prostitute and runs afoul of her pimp. The movie's most iconic scene is, as parodied in the opening scene of The Goldbergs, Tom Cruise dancing pantless around the house while singing Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock and Roll".
Risky Business is one of those classic 80's "coming of age" films that everyone should see at some point, although most parents would probably not want their high schoolers to get any ideas from watching the film.
A Kick Ass Risky Business Party
The show revolves around Erica and Barry trying to throw a "Kick Ass Ricky Business Party" at their friend Lainey's house, as her parents are out of town for the weekend. Risky Business did feature a pretty massive party in the second half of the film, but it was just a front for a brothel set up by Tom Cruise's character to raise money to repair his father's Porsche (which accidentally fell into Lake Michigan earlier in the movie). I guess ABC didn't want to bring up that aspect of a Risky Business party.
Jake and the Fatman
Murray yells at his son Adam to get off the phone so he can hear what Jake is saying to the Fatman. That's a reference to Jake and the Fatman, a 1980s legal drama starring an obese attorney nicknamed "Fatman" and his handsome investigator partner, Jake. The show also featured a large bulldog, who accompanied the Fatman wherever he went. Jake and the Fatman produced a spinoff series, Diagnosis Murder starring Dick Van Dyke and Scott Baio, which lasted nearly twice as long as the original series.
Adam sings "Toy Soldiers" to his now long distance girlfriend Dana, showing off his still squeaky teenage singing skills. "Toy Soldiers" was a pop song by Martika that briefly reached the top of the Billboard charts in 1989. The song was Martika's one major hit single and she quickly faded into pop culture obscurity afterwards. Eminem later sampled Toy Soldiers in his own song "Like Toy Soldiers".
At another point in the episode, Murray and Adam argue over Adam's long distance relationship as an episode of The Joy of Painting plays in the background. The Joy of Painting was a long running PBS series featuring the afro sporting Bob Ross showing viewers how to paint various landscapes. Ross was best known for describing the "happy little trees" he added in most of his artwork. Although The Joy of Painting ended in 1994 due to Ross battling cancer, Ross's distinctive style of landscape painting lives on in millions of happy little trees and clouds found in amateur paintings around the world.
Adam sports a Teen Wolf t-shirt as he breaks into the teacher's lounge to use the fax machine. Teen Wolf was a popular comedy movie starring Michael J. Fox as a high school student who gains popularity after discovering he's a werewolf. MTV loosely adapted the movie into a Teen Wolf television series, which notably co-starred former Arrow star Colton Haynes.
The large glass football seen in Lainey's house during the Kick Ass Risky Business party is another reference to Risky Business. In the movie, the mother of Tom Cruise's character owns an expensive glass egg, which is stolen and nearly broken several times during the movie. Cruise eventually retrieves the egg, but not before it gains a large crack, which his mother notices at the end of the movie.
Did you spot any other pop culture references in this episode of The Goldbergs? Let us know in the comments!0comments