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The Goldbergs: The Real (Crazy) Stories Behind Season 2

Did he really drink the mold?

Joyce Eng

Another year, another batch of crazy stories on The Goldbergs. "I don't know if I'll run out of real stories to do on the show," creator Adam F. Goldberg tells TVGuide.com. "Certainly not before I run out of [home] videos. Between me and the writers, I think we have enough weird childhood stories and ideas to do." But how many of Season 2's (mis)adventures actually happened? In his own words, Goldberg tells us some of the memorable story lines where the truth was stranger than fiction.

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"Love Is a Mixtape," Episode 1
What happens:
Adam (Sean Giambrone) makes a mixtape full of love songs for Dana (Natalie Alyn Lind), but Beverly (Wendi McLendon-Covey) thinks it's for her.
What really happened: Dana was my first girlfriend. She emailed me that she had dug up this old mixtape and sent it over to me. As far as my mom intercepting it and anything like that, that was all fabricated but completely true because I know that that would've happened. If my mom had found a mixtape, she would've assumed it was for her. All the Dana stuff is true. I played that mixtape at the end of the episode. We listened to the tape and we were cracking up. I made so many mixtapes. I think I was doing it as much as burning CDs. Now it's about making a playlist, which just doesn't feel the same to me.

"Big Baby Ball," Episode 6
What happens:
Beverly goes after Mr. Meller (Bryan Callen) for singling out Adam during dodgeball and ends up getting him fired.
What really happened: Dodgeball was a true story in that Mr. Meller is real. He still teaches at our school. My mom went in and yelled at them when we played dodgeball and my glasses got broken. The story of getting the gym teacher fired actually came from one of my writers, whose gym teacher was so mean to him that his mom got him fired. It was mixing experiences. My mom wasn't into getting people fired. She was more about us not getting our due, her perfect little angels. If we didn't get a role in a play or we got a bad grade on a test, she couldn't deal.

"I Rode a Hoverboard," Episode 8
What happens:
After he breaks his arm, Back to the Future fan Adam decides to embellish the story by telling everyone at school that he did it while riding a hoverboard.
What really happened: I remember seeing a [Robert] Zemeckis interview and getting confirmation that hoverboards were real, so I went into school and told a couple kids that I rode on a hoverboard at an amusement park and painted a picture of it - big track, it was super dangerous and they were probably gonna get rid of it. I did not break my arm and the lie didn't get out of control, but I remember saying that lie vividly. I love that episode because it was really about lies you say as a kid spiral out of control.

"DannyDonnieJoeyJonJordan," Episode 10
What happens: Adam and Barry (Troy Gentile) mock Erica's New Kids on the Block fandom only to find themselves unable to resist NKOTB's charms and catchy tunes.
What really happened: That really involved me and Chad Kremp where we were making a video to bust on the New Kids because that was a craze and we were jealous of their awesomeness and all the girls were in love with them. We decided to do the "Hangin' Tough" video. That went from a joke to a real video because we ended up loving their music. And then Barry found out and made fun of us. That's why I put Chad in the episode because you see it's all true. Our video was really intricate. It took like a month to shoot. We kind of admitted it together as we were making the video that the song is actually great and we started listening to other songs. I was really nervous about that. I can't even watch the video, I find it so embarrassing. When we showed it to Barry, like, "Isn't this awesome?!" And he was like, "You guys are such nerds."

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"Van People," Episode 13
What happens:
After Murray (Jeff Garlin) chews out Erica (Hayley Orrantia) for not refilling the gas tank, she and Barry buy a used van and move into it.
What really happened: Eric is my brother in real life, not Erica the sister. Eric and my dad were so stubborn and would argue about anything. My dad would be like, "I'm gonna get you a car. Let's go pick one out." Eric would refuse to go get one because he didn't want to be controlled, like the trip to Paris. My dad wanted rules around his car and filling the gas, and Eric felt controlled, so he bought his own car. Now, what he really bought was a Peugeot, which just didn't seem as funny, but that episode had such truth. You inherent your parents' stubbornness and then you have to have a relationship with them and it's always this epic fight that can spiral out of control. Eric was also famous for totaling his cars, so I'm assuming that was one of his many cars that were wrecked and destroyed.

"The Lost Boy," Episode 16
What happens:
While searching for a hygienic bathroom by himself at the now-defunct Veterans Stadium, Adam gets hopelessly lost and doesn't reunite with Murray until he is literally the last car left in the parking lot. Meanwhile, fed up with Bev's guilt trips and bedazzling pastime, Erica and Barry leave her on the side of the road after she pulls her usual stunt of getting out of the car and threatening to walk home.
What really happened: I really got lost. I was like 13 or 14, which is like, you're not a kid anymore. You should be able to survive on your own. But I was terrified. There are no cell phones, so you're literally thinking there's no way you'll ever see your parents again. And then waiting at the cars until it's the last one there and then going up to my dad and being so angry for getting separated and then breaking down and crying -- that was completely real.

The other story was also completely true. My mom was the queen of guilt and she would always get out of the car and be like, "I'm walking home," and we'd always have to talk her back into the car and tell her how great she was and we're sorry. I had enough one day and I just drove away. When I got home, my dad was like, "Where's mom?" and he screamed at me to go find her, and I couldn't find her. I lost my mom. It was one of those things where I felt so guilty afterward that she got the most guilt that she could ever use because I left her on the side of the road. The cops didn't bring her back [like they did on the show]. I found her on the steps of an ice cream shop crying, saying I was the worst son ever. ... People were asking her about the incident [on Twitter] and she was still super angry about it, and I was telling her to move on and get over it. It was 30 years ago!

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"The Adam Bomb," Episode 17
What happens:
An April Fool's prank war between Adam and Barry culminates with the latter busting out the Adam Bomb: this photo.
What really happened: One of our neighbors had this outfit to dress, like, a 6-year-old kid in. My mom thought it was so adorable that she borrowed the outfit and wedged me into it and I was way too old. I was like 10 or 11. She claims I was younger. We all have our versions. The point is it's so small on me that it looks like I'm not wearing pants. I'm actually wearing little tiny shorts, but I'm so wedged in that you can't even see the shorts. This picture was hung up on the wall of my den for 30 years. Whenever I had friends over, I would hide it and my mom would put it back up. Barry would take it down and chase me around and torture me and make me cry, and he still brings it up. I was so embarrassed of this. When we were doing this episode, I was like, "There's this thing my brother would do," and told everyone, so I decided to take away all of my brother's power and air it to the world. So it was a brave move. My mom sold her house so she sent me the actual photo and I threw it away. There are digital copies, but that giant photo is no more. She still thinks it's adorable. Someone in the [writers'] room said it looks like a mother dressed her son as Liza Minnelli who grows up to be a serial killer.

"I Drank the Mold!" Episode 18
What happens:
Gary Ball, the son of the beer-making principal (Stephen Tobolowsky), brings over one of dad's bottles to drink at Adam's sleepover. But it turns out the beer was unfermented, so they just drank mold. Meanwhile, Erica and Barry write the surefire hit "Love Ninja" to convince Murray to get a CD player.
What really happened: Principal Ball is a real guy. He retired about eight years ago. Gary was my one cool friend. We'd known each other since kindergarten and because his dad was head of the school, he got away with murder. He got me into a lot of trouble in the best way possible. We changed this story to mold because we couldn't show kids drinking alcohol. It was six of us sixth graders and we had one beer between all of us. One of those kids threw up over three sips of beer. We all started crying because we thought we were gonna get expelled because of Gary's dad. We all frantically stuffed tissues up our noses and cleaned up the barf. It was so, so gross. So I pitched that and ABC said there was no way we could do beer, so we had his dad make beer so that way we could use mold.

The other story -- my dad really declared the house a cassette house. I was desperate for a CD player and he was like, "We already have 8-tracks and records and cassettes. It's enough! It's all the same music." For so long, I would just be sitting by while my friends got CDs and you thought they were the coolest things. There's no real "Love Ninja," but we came up this idea of teaming up Big Tasty and Riki Gold creating a song to get a CD player to prove that they are musicians. "Love Ninja" was born in the room as "What's the worst idea for a song ever?" If we had more time, we would've totally made a music video.

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"La Biblioteca Es Libros,"Episode 19
What happens: Beverly pays Adam's Spanish teacher Miss Taraborelli (Michaela Watkins) to tutor him after he fails a test because she's certain it's Miss Taraborelli's fault.
What really happened: This is the mom logic episode. My mom always believed the world is against us and it's not our own shortcomings. When I would fail a class, my mom would overpay the teacher to tutor me and demand results. She was basically buying grades. It was for Spanish. I ended up learning nothing and my mom bought my grades. That's how I passed. I told the story to the room and everyone was like, "That's the sketchiest thing ever," and I was like, "No, no, it's just extra tutoring." But everyone pointed out that it was actually cheating. And I was like, "Oh, yeah!" So I probably wasn't even qualified to graduate high school!
"As You Wish,"Episode 21
What happens: When Murray refuses to get Adam a sword so he can make his The Princess Bride movie, he tells his dad that he wants to take up fencing. Beverly also tries to set up Mr. Meller and Miss Cinoman (Ana Gasteyer). (Read about the real Miss Cinoman here.)
What really happened: I was obsessed with The Princess Bride. I was always acting out scenes. My mom was so crazy about swords and eye safety that I could never have swords. I always had to make my own swords, so I didn't go as far as Adam. The other story is more about just how my mom is the biggest yenta -- the Yiddish word for gossip. She was always talking about other people and spreading rumors and stuff -- typical Jewish mother stuff - so we have her trying to set up Mr. Meller and Miss Cinnoman, who are actual people, which is hilarious to me.

"Goldbergs Feel Hard,"Episode 24
What happens: On Wednesday's season finale, everyone is trying to say "I love you" -- Murray to Erica, who's leaving for summer art school, Barry to Lainey (AJ Michalka) after he decides to become the school mascot to get closer to her, and Adam to Dana.
What really happened: The finale is really about my dad. It's really a heartfelt episode. He was incapable of saying "I love you." I don't think I ever heard my dad say "I love you" once. We were just not that family. There wasn't a lot of PDA or anything like that. There's a lot of love, but it was never articulated. But the show is a little different. Beverly is all about the schmoopies and snuggies, so she really tries to get Murray to say it. I have certain rules for the parents on the show. One of the rules is Murray will never say "I'm sorry" or "I love you." The other rules are the parents won't do sex puns or even kiss or hold hands for that matter.

Watch a sneak peek from the season finale below. The Goldbergs airs Wednesdays at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.