Show Review: ‘That ’90s Show’ trying to capitalize on nostalgia

That 70s show did not end to be turned in to this



This show really depicts why kids from te early 2000s are just better.

LUKE INGHAM, Evergreen columnist.

Point Place, Wisconsin, has been a key part of every 90s kids life and now that they are “upstairs people now” they get to look back on their formative years with cringe after watching “That ’90s show.”

The show revolves around the Forman residence, where Eric’s parents Red and Kitty unknowingly create a chaos machine by deciding to host his friends in their basement. Mischief and mishap break out and follow the cast through eight seasons of their transition into adulthood.

The basement, where many of us watched Forman and his band of trouble-making friends grow up, is as prominent of a setting as there is in American popular culture. From Central Perk coffee shop in “Friends” to Jerry’s apartment in “Seinfeld,” the set of “That ’70s Show” is as iconic and memorable as the best of them.

Even to someone who is a casual viewer of the show, or just sees funny clips on TikTok, the cast and scenery are pasted into the minds of countless viewers.

Therefore, the show is a hotbed of untouched nostalgia ready to be released.

Naturally, almost 20 years after its final episode aired, the American media machine decided it was time for a reboot.

The sequel to the original series, “That ’90s Show,” is produced by Netflix and is set twenty years after its forerunner in the aforementioned ’90s.

Instead of following Eric and his friends to terrorize his parents, the show centers around Eric’s daughter Leia, who decides to spend a summer with her grandparents Red and Kitty.

Red, portrayed by Kurtwood Smith, and Kitty, played by Debra Jo Rupp, are the only cast members from the original show that are a focal point of this new iteration.

From the first episode, it is refreshing (and heartwarming) to see Forman and Donna Pinciotti return to where it all began for them. Forman and Pinciotti’s return to Point Place doesn’t feel forced and their interactions with their daughter and the Formans are quite funny.

The chemistry between Topher Grace (Eric), Smith and Rupp is just as funny and relatable as fans remember it.

The first episode of “That ’90s Show” reminds us all of the true point of the original series. While viewers were lost in the comedy, “That ’70s Show” was teaching us a very important coming-of-age story. Despite Eric and his friends making many mistakes and often finding themselves in trouble, this is just the reality of growing up, especially in high school.

To see how these experiences shaped Eric and Donna’s marriage and how they raised their child in the 90s is touching and really puts a bow on the original series, since Grace left the show before the final season aired.

But as soon as Eric and Donna walk out the front door and share a touching moment with Red and Kitty, that’s where the enjoyable parts of the show really begin to dwindle.

Leia meets a group of friends, who include Jay Kelso, son of original character Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher). Including Kelso’s son was a logical way to keep the original cast somewhat involved without overdoing the nostalgia trip and building on the stories of the new characters they have introduced.

Kutcher makes a brief cameo in the pilot episode with his divorced wife Mila Kunis’s character Jackie Burkhart (soon to be remarried).

Red becomes terrified when he learns who Jay’s father is and realizes what is about to happen. Kutcher and Kunis then appear on screen to the delight of fans and the fake studio audience.

Leia and Jay go on to have a romantic connection throughout the 10-episode series, which is one of the more redeeming parts of the show. But Jay’s character really draws from the fact that the audience knows who his father is, without that precedent his character is rather underwhelming despite a few funny moments.

Leia, on the other hand, is an interesting character, with quite a good storyline that is distinctly separated from that of her father. Nonetheless, she is let down by the cast around her.

Now, the show isn’t “bad” per say, but it’s not good enough to watch if you haven’t watched its predecessor. It is clear to me that the directors of this reboot were trying to balance fan service while also creating fun new characters, but perhaps that is where this show falls flat.

The theme of the new series is that “Times change, Teenagers don’t.” The show does well drawing similarities between upbringings in the two respective decades.

While “That 90s Show” does a good job telling the story of a teenager’s formative summer, it forgets to bring along the comedy.

At times it felt as if the show built its comedic occurrences to appeal to a younger audience, despite the fact that its viewership was going to come from fans of “That ’70s Show,” who herald from an older generation. There were moments where it almost felt like a slightly edgier Disney show.

In fairness, the show’s creators could have gone two ways with the show and they just tried to do a little bit of both. They got caught  between trying to captivate the older fans and trying to generate a new audience. The result was a weird combination that isn’t very pleasing for either target audience.

Without spoiling the entire show, I will say that I found the character development uninteresting and the comedy to be subpar.

The best part of “That 90s Show” are the moments that draw from the original series and the rest is yet another lackluster Netflix special that is void of quality and originality.