“I have a Ph.D. in men,” joked Beverly Goldberg, the real-life inspiration for the over-the-top mother on ABC’s hit sitcom The Goldbergs.
The gregarious mother of three sons will be at Tiferet Bet Israel (TBI) in Blue Bell on May 24 as part of the synagogue’s Women’s League 1980s-themed Ladies Night Out.
Adam F. Goldberg, her youngest son, is the creator and executive producer of The Goldbergs, centered on his 1980s upbringing near Philadelphia.
The female-centric event at TBI provides a break for his mother, who has spent much of her life surrounded by men.
“I had three boys. At different points, my father, father-in-law and even my handyman were living with me. It was strange to see a girl in the show,” she said, noting that the show changed Goldberg’s oldest son, Eric, to a daughter, Erica, to widen narrative options.
As for other divergences from history, Goldberg, played on TV by Wendi McLendon-Covey, just chuckled.
“The fans think everything is so literal. It’s just Adam’s interpretation of the past. My other sons, Barry and Eric, have different memories.”
However, she clarified, “it’s very much based on real things.”
ABC recently signed the sitcom, now in its fourth season, to an extended two-year contract. The show anchors its Wednesday night comedy block, though in reflecting on its success, the real-life matriarch paused.
“Everyone has stories about their parents. But our family? I don’t know. My son Barry said, ‘Who would’ve thought that our cockamamie family would be of interest to anyone?’ and it’s true.”
Viewers are especially curious about Goldberg’s over-the-top dedication to her children’s safety, which is factual, she said. “I still tell them to call me when they get somewhere.”
Fans of the TV show call Goldberg a “smother,” a mother who overwhelms her children with affection and worry. The term has appeared on the program a few times.
“I’m not so happy about that,” she said of the title, explaining the concern as natural.
“It’s universal for all mothers. And it’s funny. My kids are not so different [as parents] to their own children.”
As a mother, Goldberg ensured the family observed Jewish holidays and traditions. Her children attended Hebrew school at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park.
The event at TBI begins at 6 p.m. and features, on a first-come, first-reserved basis, a seat with Goldberg at a cocktail reception, dinner and 1980s-centered program.
“I feel strongly about Judaism, but it’s different now,” Goldberg said, adding that she has observed a downward trend in young people practicing the religion. “I can just hope my kids and grandkids find moral teachings and live honest, good lives.”
The mother spends much of her time visiting her family, now spread across three states. She recently flew to California to see Adam and his family.
“He did ‘Take Your Mom to Work Day’ for me,” she said. “It was a comfort to him. He said, ‘Mom, if you’re just sitting there, can you scratch my back?’ Who doesn’t want that?”