‘That ’90s Show’ review


AP Photos

Cast members (from left) Tommy Chong, Kurtwood Smith, Debra Jo Rupp, Laura Prepon, Wilmer Valderrama and Don Star at the premiere of the series.

By Eli Tecktiel, Lifestyle Writer

Fans of the beloved sitcom “That ‘70s Show” should keep their expectations at bay when watching Netflix’s new reboot, “That ‘90s Show.”

“That ‘90s Show” follows Leia Foreman (Callie Haverda), daughter of Eric Foreman (Topher Grace) and Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), as she comes to stay with Eric’s parents, Red and Kitty (Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp, respectively), for the summer. 

The show seemingly starts off on the right foot, reintroducing us to all of our favorite characters from the original series. However, anyone expecting to truly see where Eric, Donna, Jackie, Kelso, Fez and Hyde are at this point in their lives will be sorely disappointed. 

Danny Masterson, who played Steven Hyde on the original series, was the only main character to not return. According to CNN, Masterson was arrested and charged on multiple counts of rape in 2020 and his character, Hyde, is never mentioned or alluded to in the reboot.

As for the other classic characters from “That ‘70s Show,” their appearances on the reboot essentially serve as fun cameos more than anything else. 

For the most part, “That ‘90s Show” plays more like a Disney Channel or Nickelodeon show than an actual continuation of its predecessor. The jokes come across as weak and juvenile, the newly added characters are one dimensional and even the glimpses of our favorite classic characters don’t give us much insight into how they’ve progressed as adults.

Though we see that Eric and Donna, as well as Jackie and Kelso, have ended up together, it’s hard to get a sense of what their current relationships are like. In the first episode, Kelso mentions that he and Jackie are about to be remarried to each other for the second time. For any dedicated “That ‘70s Show” viewer who was dying to find out what their relationship was like, after all these years, this brief scene will surely leave them cold. 

Perhaps I have been spoiled by modern TV comedies like “BoJack Horseman” and “Dead to Me” which are able to add genuine emotion to shows that are otherwise rooted in humor. In 2023, when we have so many deeply layered shows that combine comedy and emotional drama, I have a hard time watching a crudely written show backed by a laugh track. “That ‘90s Show” comes across as broadly humored and ultimately flat, not leaving much for viewers to connect with. 

Season 1 of “That ‘90s Show” is now streaming on Netflix.