You could probably count the number of major TV Hanukkah episodes on one hand, but The Goldbergs is helping get that number one episode closer to a full menorah with the introduction of Super Hanukkah, the newest creation from Beverly Goldberg (Wendi McLendon-Covey) unveiled on Wednesday night’s episode.
“My mom was always trying to figure out ways to make Hanukkah exciting and compete with our neighbors the Kremps, who always had these amazing blow-out Christmas parties,” says the show’s creator, Adam F. Goldberg. “We weren’t particularly religious, but you grow up feeling envious and wishing you could just have that experience, so that’s really what this episode is about.”
Rather than eight nights of gifts — which, Goldberg adds, usually only yielded one real gift and seven nights of filler in his family — Beverly’s idea of Super Hanukkah means having “all the presents opened on one morning under a Hanukkah bush, which is essentially Christmas, and that drives Pops insane because The Goldbergs don’t celebrate Christmas. They celebrate Hanukkah.”
Goldberg feels that the autobiographical comedy isn’t making a particular push to show a Jewish family’s Hanukkah; instead, as has always been true with ABC’s ‘80s-set sitcom, the show strives for the truth of the creator’s childhood, which means another strange twist on the family’s festival of lights.
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“The defining thing for Hanukkah for us was A Christmas Story,” says Goldberg with a laugh. “Maybe that’s ironic. I’ve talked a lot about how The Wonder Years defined the show, but the truth is that A Christmas Story was the first. I watched that movie on loop growing up.”
Therein lies the episode’s other throughline: The Adam-Barry storyline finds Barry’s girlfriend Lainey interrupting the brothers’ holiday tradition of watching the 1983 Christmas classic. So? “We’re doing a really nice A Christmas Story homage: Adam dares Barry to stick his tongue to the flagpole.”