"The Kremps" illustrates the difficulty of neighborhood dynamics. Making friends is hard no matter what the age, whether it's lonely 12-year-old Adam excited to finally have someone who shares his interests, or it's matronly Bev being so full of love that she can't stand having someone not like her. Seeing Adam and Chad Kremp instantly bond over a love of Tron exhibits how simple friendship is when you're a kid. All it takes is a shared word, and BAM. Insta-bond. Watching Bev and Virginia Kremp is a painful reminder of how complicated everything gets. It's no longer as easy, but any resulting friendship is ultimately richer because it was fought for. And good heavens, does Bev fight to make Virginia like her.
Virgina, who at first blush appears to be such a wench that it's a bit worrisome whether her kids will be OK in the long run, is the epitome of the gross passive aggressive woman. She tacitly ignores the power-walking Bev, rebuffs multiple invitations to backyard BBQs, ducks behind a curtain to avoid Bev's gaze and then lies about it directly after. It's a textbook example of how to be a terrible person. And while it is at first nice to see all the craziness of Bev being thrown in her face--I mean, she is too loud and controlling--it soon morphs into rooting for her to defeat this woman. It's because she has a complete acceptance of self that is admirable. Bev behaves that way because that's who she is. It's also in her nature to use those gifts to protect people, which is why she still comes to Virginia's aid when the baker at the grocery store is ripping her off. Most people, myself included, would have internally laughed maniacally as the woman got her just desserts, but Bev is different. Bev is honest to herself, which gives her an enviable compassion.
The subplot, wherein Barry and Erica argue and brawl over phone rights, forces the series to continue confronting weakness. While yelling is a Goldbergs trademark, it does get exhausting at times, making one wonder how a family can sustain that level of acrimony all the time. Well, in this episode they show how--a family can't. Not even the Goldbergs. After a sad nighttime mud-throwing, Erica asks Barry "Why are we like this?" No one can fight all the time. Even the kids can't constantly be at each other's throats. Sometimes, there is truce. And Barry and Erica strike that truce, with Carry eventually helping Erica bond with Drew Kremp. Sometimes, family really does have your back.
-Second phone lines still mystify me. I never had one as a kid, and so the thought that two people can be on the phone at once is mystifying to me. As is the need for that as a necessity, but that's the tag-along child in me talking.
-Tom Cavanaugh guesting as the soft-spoken Mr. Kremp delighted me. I love Ed, and I love J.D.'s older brother even more.
-Adam's Tron light suit is pretty freaking awesome. I have to give major props to that ingenuity.