The Goldbergs Is Not Hiding Jeff Garlin’s Exit Well

The Goldbergs Is Not Hiding Jeff Garlin’s Exit Well

Jeff Garlin’s exit from The Goldbergs season 9 has so far resulted in the family sitcom doing a very awkward job of covering up the actor’s absence.

The Goldbergs is proving particularly inept at covering up the absence of Jeff Garlin in season 9. Last year, the actor was revealed to have allegedly exhibited behavior on the set of the ABC sitcom that made cast and crew members feel uncomfortable. As a result of an investigation into the reported misconduct, Sony Pictures Television, which produces The Goldbergs, appears to have let Garlin go. But his character, Murray Goldberg, has yet to be officially removed from the show, and it’s become a glaring issue.

It is not easy for any show to hide the exit of a cast member, which is why the typical solution is for the production to write that actor’s character out of the story in some way or another. The Goldbergs did this following the death of George Segal, another series regular. The Goldbergs has yet to acknowledge that Garlin is gone from the show, however, let alone the possibility of Murray’s farewell. Since his role is central to the sitcom as a pivotal member of the titular family’s dynamic, the production has undoubtedly had a hard time covering up his absence.


Related: Schooled: Why ABC Cancelled The Goldbergs Spinoff After Season 2

So far, The Goldbergs season 9 has featured bizarre efforts to hide Garlin’s exit, including what appears to be a green screen appearance from Murray during his daughter Erica’s wedding. The show has also relied on the old canard of Garlin’s character being conveniently out of town. However, his “touring a suede factory in Tucson” is an excuse that will only hold water for an episode or two, at most, before a more permanent explanation for Garlin’s absence will be necessary. For Murray to simply be off on a work trip with no chance of him ever coming back is an embarrassingly bad attempt at a coverup.

The Goldbergs Wendi McLendon Covey Jeff Garlin Beverly Murray

Sitcoms are designed to keep their stories reliably formulaic, but occasionally, life gets in the way and forces the show’s writers to rethink this strategy. Viewers may want to see the same character dynamics play out week after week, but the realities of working with a large cast and crew can make this feat impossible. For example, Roseanne’s Chuck was missing from The Conners for long stretches of the sitcom spinoff’s run because the actor who played him gained a high-profile role and couldn’t take time away from that.

It is not rare for a show to struggle with an actor’s sudden departure either. Josie’s exit on Legacies season 4 was similarly sudden and awkward, but the series at least committed to saying that she was out of town for the foreseeable future and left the question of her return open. The problem with The Goldbergs giving such an anodyne explanation for Murray’s absence is that this means fans who haven’t heard about Garlin’s departure could reasonably anticipate his character’s return in a coming episode.

If Murray and his wife, Bev (Wendi McLendon-Covey), encountered marital difficulties and split up, that would make more sense for the character to be missing for long stretches, perhaps never to return. Or Murray could be killed off, as was done to Roseanne Barr’s titular character on Roseanne/The Conners after the star made racist comments on Twitter. Sony and ABC have yet to take such a definitive route with Jeff Garlin’s character in The Goldbergs, however, resulting in bizarre and increasingly transparent attempts to paper over the absence of one of the show’s central players.

More: The Goldbergs True Story: What Each Character Looks Like In Real-Life

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Cathal Gunning
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Cathal Gunning has been writing about movies and TV online since 2020. His obsessions include The Simpsons, Stephen King, the Scream series, and the horror genre in general. He has spent more time thinking about Stranger Things than the writers of Stranger Things, and he has never seen a Star War.

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