Beverly Goldberg is not a mother who does things halfway. As the matriarch at the center of “The Goldbergs,” the ‘80s-set sitcom about the titular family, she seems to firmly believe that there is no quantity of love and affection that might be too much for her kids. And Wendi McLendon-Covey, who plays her, says she understands the familiar dynamic of the family.
“My dad was pantsless, most of the time. My mom really was the one raising us, so this spoke to me. And where we were getting the criticism, ‘Oh, they yell too much,’ I’m thinking, they don’t yell enough! Followed by long awkward silences and door slamming. You can always throw more of that in, if you want to be realistic,” jokes McLendon Covey.
Despite all the yelling, it’s always clear that all the family members have a deep affection for each other, and McLendon-Covey appreciates that Beverly is unapologetic about the degree of her devotion.
“What I love about her is she loves her family. She does not apologize for loving her family. She takes her job as a mom very seriously,” she explains, and she says fans have often expressed the wish that she was their mom. “I guess at the bottom of it, as embarrassing as you are as a parent, kids like knowing that you’ve got their back.”
And there can never be any doubt about the degree to which Beverly looks out for her kids. “You know Beverly will kick anybody’s ass. And she’ll say it, and she’ll threaten it, and she’ll follow through. That’s what the great thing about Beverly is,” says McLendon-Covey.
Of course, because the show is set in the ‘80s, that means some pretty unusual costumes for the cast.
“The worst outfit would be my aerobic wear. I did have to be in a leotard, and I’d rather not do that again. The second worse would be my Thanksgiving outfit. Twice, I’ve worn it. I think it’s made of vinyl, and it comes off on my skin,” says McLendon-Covey.
Some of those outfits came right from the source — show creator Adam Goldberg has borrowed some clothes from his mother, and McLendon-Covey has worn them on the show. “The great thing is she wants all this stuff back when the show ends. I don’t know what she’s going to do with it,” says McLendon-Covey with a laugh.
Despite the goofiness of the setting, McLendon-Covey thinks it’s the emotion at the show’s center that makes it a success. “Forget all the ‘80s references. They’re there because that’s when Adam grew up. Take away the Rubik’s Cubes and whatever, and there’s a heart there. I’ve cried my way through many table reads and will continue to do so.
The show’s been on for a few years now, but it’s long enough that McLendon-Covey has a few favorites among all the episodes. “I did a vow renewal, and that really gave me the feels,” she admits. “Another good episode was when I barged into my son’s dance and watched him have his first slow dance and it shredded me. Or shredded Beverly. Not me, I held it together. But imagine watching your baby fall in love and you’re not the main lady anymore!”