The Goldbergs is based on Adam F. Goldberg's childhood, but how much of Season 1's wacky adventures really happened? A lot. "In a lot of ways, I have to pull back because some of the stories are so crazy," he tells TVGuide.com. "Even with the [home] videos at the end of the episodes, people still don't believe me." We caught up with Goldberg to get the true story behind on some of this season's most memorable story lines (ironically, the Goonies worshipper never did his own treasure hunt as a kid, but he "really hope[s]"Goonies 2 happens), what you can expect on Tuesday's finale and what he hopes to do in Season 2.
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"Daddy Daughter Day," Episode 2
What happens: Barry (Troy Gentile) asks Murray (Jeff Garlin) for $20 to fund a demo for his hip-hop group, where he performs under Big Tasty. Big Tasty has since debuted a music video and attempted a rap in French.
What really happened: It was Goldberg, not his brother Barry, who was Big Tasty. While Barry had a Grateful Dead knockoff band, Goldberg was the one "obsessed with rap." But after casting Gentile, a fellow rap aficionado, Goldberg rewrote faux Barry's music tastes. "[Gentile] started to rap for me and I was like, 'Oh, my God!'" he says. "It was one of those things where your actor informs who the character is. My rap name as a kid was Big Tasty. My other ones were Ad-Rock from the Beastie Boys. One of the things I want to do next year is a full-on Beasties episode. My middle school years were defined by memorizing every single word off License to Ill and Paul's Boutique."
"The Ring," Episode 5
What happens: After Barry and Erica (Hayley Orrantia) find love letters that Murray wrote to a woman named Anita, Murray reveals that the woman was his former fiancée... and that he re-gifted the engagement ring to Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey).
What really happened: The engagement to Anita and recycled ring are true, but Beverly found out when she and Anita sat next to each other in a college class by chance. "Anita would stare at her ring all the time, and my mom thought, 'Oh, she's just jealous I have this amazing engagement ring,'" Goldberg says. "We didn't do that because obviously that would seem broad." And why didn't pops get a new ring for Bev? "Why? He had a perfectly good ring!" Goldberg says with a laugh. "We would always do this joke about what it would've been like had he married Anita. Maybe we would have a normal mom and we'd fantasize what life with Anita would be like. That would drive my mom nuts. We'd be a quiet family. I think that conversation is even in the show. They're all wondering what their life would be like."
"Shopping," Episode 10
What happens: Bargain shopper extraordinaire Beverly, who stacks a bunch of mattresses onto the family car after seeing a good deal, abuses Erica's employee discount at a department store. Erica in turn frames her for shoplifting.
What really happened: Real-life Bev is a "competitive shopper," according to her son. "Her entire existence was finding deals. Discounts are her favorite thing, like at Filene's Basement. Expiration dates to her were just put on the coupon as a general guideline for the decade. I've seen her use coupons that are like 15 years expired." But has she ever been arrested by mall security? "If I were to say yes, it would her seem nuts and it would make her angry, so let's just say maybe," Goldberg says.
But you can bet the mattress story is 100 percent true. "My mom found a deal that she couldn't turn down, which was like buy one mattress, get two free," he says. "So she ended up strapping like six to the top of the car. Over the next decade, she'd just offer people who'd come over mattresses because she had them in the attic. She still has them to this day, so if anyone needs a mattress, you can give her a call! ... ABC had the most concerns about this because Beverly seems crazy. I don't know if they really wanted me to do it because it was early in the season, but this is something that defines my mom, so I was really happy to do it."
"Lame Gretzky," Episode 17
What happens: Adam (Sean Giambrone) takes up hockey to please Murray and ends up scoring on his own goal. Meanwhile, after Erica wants to go to Stanford, Beverly makes up fake SAT words ("torculent," "flimjam," and "plorpf") so she won't have to send her baby across the country.
What really happened: Goldberg's dad made him play hockey to help with his hand-eye coordination. He did score on his own goal — and if you don't believe him, just ask his teammates. "On Facebook, these people from my team have all found me because of that episode. Our coach was talking about how terrible I was. It was great! ... I have no idea if we won or lost. It didn't matter. I was the big loser," Goldberg says. As for the SATs, Goldberg's mother never made fake words for him, but he's pretty sure she would've. "[My mom] said, 'Adam, go study for your SATs' to me so much that I recorded her and edited it on a loop and played it for her because I was a wiseass. I would joke with my brothers that she would teach me fake vocab words, so I made it real for the show," he says. "I ended up going to NYU for film school — close to Pennsylvania — but we talked about what if I went to UCLA or USC, and my mom's whole world was caving in."
But even New York is too far for Bev. One of Goldberg's favorite tales — that he can't do on the show (yet) — is his mother sleeping in his dorm the first weekend of his freshman year. After delivering groceries, she refused to leave when it got dark. "She was like, 'Oh, it's dark and I have bad night vision. I can't drive home or I'll die. Do you want me to die?'" Goldberg says. "My roommate had a girlfriend and wasn't there, so she slept in his bed, and that's when I knew there was a problem. I remember vividly telling her that if anyone came to the door, she'd have to hide in the closet. My friend Kevin, who's now an editor for Top Chef and Project Runway, came to the door, and said, 'When are we going out?' And I cracked open the door a little bit and he thought I had a girl in there. But no, just my mom! That story is my example for when people think [the show] is exaggerated."