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.
We Are the World
Erica is inspired to start a Social Awareness Club at her school after listening to “We Are the World”, a song written to benefit charities to prevent famines in Africa. Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie wrote the song and over 80 different musicians participated in its recording. “We Are the World” was one of THE hits of the 1980s and was the first song to ever reach multi-platinum status. After an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, modern pop singers and musicians joined forces to record a remake of the We Are the World to raise money for victims of the earthquake.
Gimme a Break
As he and Murray watch an episode of Gimme a Break, Adam comments that Nell Carter probably gives good hugs. Gimme a Break was a NBC sitcom about a housekeeper (Nell Carter) who works for a widowed police captain and his family. Carter remained a constant in the series during its six season run, even as the family she worked for gained and lost family members due to death or cast changes.
Adam's comment about Nell is the second time he's subconsciously admitted to having a crush on an older woman. He previously made similar comments about Sally Jessie Raphael last episode.
Thinking that his old swim trunks are too tight around the crotch, Beverly buys Adam a pair of Jams. Jams are a style of garish, brightly colored surf trunks. While they’re still sold today, the trunks were especially popular in the 1980s due to their bright neon colors.
The Swamps of Dagobah
Adam says he wouldn’t go swimming even if George Lucas invited him to a pool party in the swamps of Dagobah. Dagobah, of course, is the swamp planet seen in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi during Luke Skywalker’s training under Yoda. Dagobah is one of the most iconic planets in Star Wars lore, having appeared multiple times in various Star Wars related video games, books and comics. No word if Dagobah will appear in the upcoming new Star Wars films.
Caddyshacking the Pool
Adam recreates the infamous scene from Caddyshack when the country club’s pool is cleared out after a floating candy bar is mistaken for a piece of fecal matter. Much like The Goldbergs is based on series creator Adam Goldberg’s childhood, the pool scene in Caddyshack was taken from an incident from Caddyshack actor Bill Murray’s teenage years.
One of the Social Awareness Club’s goals was to bring a Bennigan’s to town. Bennigan’s was an early TGIF-style restaurant popular that peaked in the early 1980s as casual chain restaurants grew in popularity. Bennigan’s couldn’t keep up with the time, however, and declared bankruptcy in 2011. Now only a few Bennigan’s restaurants remain.
“Lando Calrissian for Prez”
Another one of the Social Awareness Club’s goals is to get Lando Calrissian elected as president. Lando was the smooth talking administrator of Cloud City in Empire Strikes Back, who betrays his friend Han Solo, but later rescues him and helps lead the Rebel Alliance to victory over the Empire in Return of the Jedi. He recently starred in his own solo comics miniseries, published by Marvel Comics.
Did you spot any other pop culture references in this episode of The Goldbergs? Let us know in the comments!