‘The Goldbergs’ Star Gets Super Candid on Jeff Garlin’s Exit

·3 min read
Courtesy of ABC
Courtesy of ABC

The Goldbergs star Wendi McLendon-Covey, who for nine seasons played Jeff Garlin’s on-screen wife in the ABC sitcom, has addressed the actor’s exit from the series in its 10th season. Speaking on SiriusXM’s Andy Cohen Live on Tuesday, McLendon-Covey said the show’s decision to kill off Garlin’s character “was a long time coming.”

“That was a long time coming,” the Reno 911 alum said. “And that it finally happened? It was like, ‘OK… Finally, someone is listening to us.’”

In December of 2021, Garlin brushed off the rumor that he’d been fired from The Goldbergs. As journalist Maureen Ryan reported for Vanity Fair, three former Goldberg employees alleged that Garlin had engaged in verbal or physical behaviors that had made some people uncomfortable on set. Less than two weeks after the interview’s publication, Garlin’s departure became official following an HR investigation—a decision The Hollywood Reporter described as mutual between Garlin and the show’s production company, Sony Pictures Television.

Garlin is far from the first actor to see his character killed off on screen due to a real-life controversy. Valerie Harper was famously killed off her own series, originally titled Valerie, over money and creative disputes, and Two and a Half Men dropped a piano on Charlie Sheen after he went on an anti-Semitic tirade, including against the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre. And then, of course, there’s Roseanne Barr, who has centered an entire comeback attempt around discussing her firing from ABC—and the on-screen Roseanne’s death by opioid overdose—after an offensive tweet about Valerie Jarrett.

The Goldbergs Season 10 addressed the death of Garlin’s character, Murray Goldberg, in retrospect. During the premiere, Murray’s son—the show’s protagonist, Adam—recalls, “Just a few months ago, out of nowhere, we lost my dad. … We will always love you, dad. Always. And we will find a way to continue on together. Because, after all, we’re the Goldbergs.”

Garlin himself discussed his controversial on-set behavior on The Daily Beast podcast The Last Laugh back in 2019, going so far as to dare ABC to fire him for shouting random obscenities to keep himself amused during tapings.

“I don’t say anything disrespectful to any man or woman directly, in a sincere way,” Garlin insisted at the time. “So I found myself in the Sony human resources [office] and they were really serious. And one of the executives said, ‘What if TMZ finds out about this?’ And I said, ‘Please let TMZ find out.’ That will be the first time I’ll ever do an interview with TMZ and I’ll tell them that it’s all true. Because we have to stop the silliness.”

Speaking with Cohen on Tuesday, McLendon-Covey noted that prior to Garlin’s exit, George Segal, who played the show’s beloved grandfather character, had also died in real life—which presented a further challenge for the comedy. “You can't keep asking your audience to mourn people,” she said. “That's not why they tune in.”

Ultimately, however, McLendon-Covey asked her host, Cohen, to cut their conversation surrounding Garlin short. “If we can not talk about that, that would be great,” she said, and Cohen obliged. “I’m exhausted by that topic and the PTSD of it all,” McLendon-Covey said. “I just feel like the less people know about that, the better. Nobody benefits from knowing anything.”

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