Mother’s Day is coming early for Beverly Goldberg this year.
Both the TV character played by Wendi McLendon-Covey and the woman who inspired that portrayal will be in the May 1 episode of ABC’s The Goldbergs as the show’s Jenkintown-raised creator delivers his version of an apology to the woman who raised him and whose Mother’s Day he ruined back in 1988.
After hearing the story, I asked Adam F. Goldberg why I shouldn’t be on Team Bev.
“You should be,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
“I mean, when you’re a kid, you’re incredibly selfish, and the world revolves around you. And I think that’s why there is a Mother’s Day [and a Father’s Day], so there’s one day where kids can stop and just appreciate their parents," he said.
“But I had this opportunity, through my friend, to go see an early screening of the movie Willow in early May,” he said, referring to the 1988 fantasy film directed by Ron Howard and produced by George Lucas. “I was so excited. The screening was on Mother’s Day, and my mom was like, ‘No, you’re going to spend the day with me.’ And I was so angry, I screamed, ‘I hate you,’ and ran upstairs. She let me hear about it for the next  years of my life. So virtually every time I see her, it comes up that I said ‘I hate you’ on Mother’s Day and made [her] cry."
Goldberg, who’s been mining his 1980s childhood for material for six seasons, knew it had to be an episode.
"I decided to do it this year, and flew my mom out and interviewed her about it, and she was very willing to talk about how much I hurt her on Mother’s Day,” he said.
“I believe the last line of the show is Adam [Sean Giambrone] asking her how long it will take her to get over it," and her replying that she’s sure she’ll be “over it in a week or two,” he said. "But then it cuts to an interview [with the real Beverly] where she’s still talking about it.”
For those not familiar with The Goldbergs, let’s just say none of this is a surprise. The Philly-centric sitcom even has a second-screen experience, as the real Beverly periodically takes to Twitter to offer her support for the show, sometimes by reinforcing her image as a “smother” with veiled, and not so veiled, shots at one or more of her three sons.
Since January, it’s also had a second half-hour to play with, as the 1990s-set spin-off Schooled, inspired by Goldberg’s teachers at Philadelphia’s William Penn Charter School, has become so closely linked with the original that viewers might barely notice they’re separate shows.
That’s intentional, by the way.
"People always said they wished The Goldbergs was an hour long. Every time I’m on Twitter, Facebook, I read it,” Goldberg said. “My idea was just to do more of the same, because people were enjoying it.” Plus, it gave him a chance to do stories that didn’t fall under the “1980-something” umbrella.
“The ’90s is really the time that I was in high school,” he said.
“The other thing was that I was really excited to make the show about my family, and my teachers are just as important to me. I stayed in touch with a lot of them. They’re such good people. They’re still there. So it was a way to kind of write something new. Because 140 episodes of my dad in his underpants, after a while — it’s fun, but you kind of start wanting creatively something new and fresh."
ABC hasn’t yet officially picked up either show for next season, but Goldberg, confident that it will, already has plans, some involving Adam’s brother Barry (Troy Gentile), whose appearance in the May 1 and May 8 episodes of Schooled aren’t meant to be his last.
““I want him to be on both shows. I think it’d be really neat to see a character in the ’80s and then see them 10 years later right afterwards,” he said. By then, Barry, like his real-life counterpart, will be a doctor.
He’d also love to do an episode involving the Mummers, a tradition so specific to Philadelphia that when he brings it up in the writers’ room, “everybody looks at me so blank.” He encountered similar resistance to last season’s episode about the search for the perfect cheesesteak, he said. "Everyone is like, ‘Why are you going to dedicate a half an hour of network comedy to … cheesesteaks? It makes no sense.’ ”
On The Goldbergs, Gentile’s Barry and Hayley Orrantia’s Erica will be in college next season, but Goldberg’s not worried they’ll be sidelined.
“The thing that I got really lucky [with is] that in real life, my two siblings went to the same college, [Brandeis] … and the stories are so amazing," said Goldberg, who’ll no doubt make his fictional mom happy with his plan to send Erica and Barry to Penn.
“The highlight story that we’re definitely going to do next year, maybe even as an opener, is that my two brothers, Eric and Barry, got into a fight. They had to share a computer — again, it was like the ’80s, and they had one computer. And any time they had a paper, they had to lug this computer across campus. And they both had a paper due on the same day and they got into … a full-on fight in the middle of the quad in front of like a thousand people."
Eric may have become Erica on the show, but their stories have more in common than people realize, Goldberg said, as his brother also took a year off from college. (He, too, is now a doctor.)
“Going to college together caused so many problems for them. Any issue they had was like magnified by a thousand. And the best video that I have, they got into a fight [at home] about who was going to pick up pizza … and basically my mom called a family meeting and they sat down for an hour and screamed at each other, and my dad was calling them morons. It’s the perfect encapsulation of my family, and I have it all on video. Every time we’re together as a family, we watch it. And we roar with laughter," he said.
"There’s so much yelling and crying and laughter and tears, and me, videotaping it all. It’s like I’m a ghost. No one acknowledges me. It’s amazing.”
The Goldbergs. 8 p.m. Wednesday, ABC.