'The Goldbergs': Flashing Back to the '80s on the Set of ABC's Comedy

This story first appeared in a special Emmy issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

For a Jewish family, they sure have a lot of Easter eggs. But everywhere you turn on the set of The Goldbergs, creator Adam F. Goldberg's autobiographical comedy about growing up in suburban Pennsylvania, there are hidden treasures.

Look carefully, for instance, at the family photos in the living room. Tucked among real childhood pictures of the cast — Jeff Garlin plays gruff father Murray, Wendi McLendon-Covey is the show's "smother mother" Beverly, Hayley Orrantia is oldest child Erica, Troy Gentile plays dim-bulb middle child Barry, Sean Giambrone is pop culture-obsessed youngest son Adam and George Segal is goofy but wise "Pops" — there are childhood photos of Goldberg himself.

Even the vintage toys scattered around have a backstory; they're almost all the actual toys Goldberg played with as a kid (many now worth a small fortune).

"One day I just started playing with them," says Giambrone, now 16. "I tried transforming all the Transformers — couldn't do it. They're impossible. They're poking your hands, and you get cuts."

The episode filming today on the Sony lot in Culver City — the season two finale, which aired May 13 — shows various Goldberg family members learning to say the words "I love you."For this particular clan, it's more difficult than it sounds. 

"It's a very relatable show," says McLendon-Covey. "There are plenty of people out there who still don't feel like they've gotten out of their awkward phase, so that strikes a chord."

Ironically, the show's '80s milieu is toughest on showbiz vet Segal, 81, one of the few on the set today who were full-grown adults during the decade. "The last thing I remember are the '70s," he says. "It starts to get blurry around the '80s and '90s."

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