That ‘90s Show

That 90s Show

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Reviewer

Lauren Cook

TV Series Review

Ah, the ‘70s. A time of significant cultural change, political conflict…and, for the characters on That ‘70s Show, a whole lot of time spent in Eric Forman’s basement.

From 1998 to 2006, That ‘70s Show dominated the sitcom world, transporting viewers to the town of Point Place, Wisconsin, as a group of dysfunctional friends came of age in a tumultuous decade.

But, of course, times change, and no one stays young forever. Twenty years have passed since Eric reunited with girl-next-door Donna, and now that he’s settled down and has his own kid, he’s about to get a taste of his own rebellious medicine.

That ‘90s Show follows Eric and Donna’s daughter, Leia, as she experiences the highs and lows of teenage life, just as her parents did two decades before. She’s determined to make her own friends, have her own adventures…and make a few questionable decisions along the way.

Party Like It’s 1995

When Eric brings his family to his parent’s house in Point Place for the Fourth of July, the last thing he expects is for Leia to fall in love with his hometown—or, more accurately, the people she finds there. She doesn’t exactly fit in back home, but as soon as she meets her punk-rock neighbor, Gwen, and her ragtag group of friends, she knows there’s no going back. With Eric’s very reluctant blessing, Leia decides to spend the summer of ’95 in Point Place with her grandparents, Kitty and Red, and get into some misadventures of her own.

That ‘70s Show struck a chord with its audiences by showcasing teenage life in messy, over-the-top detail. That ’90s Show, streaming on Netflix, is no different. Drugs, sex and alcohol all take center stage as Leia is roped into various rebellious escapades by her new friends. “The Circle,” a recurring gag from That ‘70s Show in which the gang smokes marijuana and ponders life’s biggest questions, makes a return, along with underage drinking and thinly veiled references to sexual activity. One member of the gang, Ozzie, is openly gay, and has to constantly insist that yes, his Canadian boyfriend is real, thank you very much.

Not only that, but Eric’s tendency to defy his parents’ wishes has clearly been passed on to his daughter. Leia yells at and disobeys her father, then sneaks behind her grandparents’ back in the name of “teenage rebellion.” Of course, these outbursts are usually followed by reconciliation and a heartfelt moment, but it’s hard to feel really moved when it’s obvious Leia will be right back to her regular misbehavior in the next episode.

Favorite characters and running gags aren’t the only elements making a return in That ‘90s Show; if viewers head back to Point Place to hang out in the Forman’s basement, they should know to expect the same raunchiness, language and underage substance use that plagued its predecessor.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 19, 2023—S1, Ep1: “That 90s Pilot”

Eric Forman returns to Point Place, Wisconsin, for the Fourth of July, bringing his wife Donna and daughter, Leia, with him. Leia meets a group of local misfit teenagers and begins to reconsider how she wants to spend her summer, putting her on a collision course with her father.

A central plot point of the episode revolves around an “accidentally” acquired beer keg and the teens’ quest to get it open. Leia pretends to be pregnant to keep the cashier from questioning her age when she buys a tap, and the kids crack open the keg and drink out of plastic cups to celebrate the Fourth of July. Kitty and Red, Leia’s grandparents, drink beer socially with Eric and Donna. The kids find a stash of marijuana in Eric’s old things, though it’s never shown or even explicitly identified.

While it isn’t openly stated in the first episode, Ozzie, one of Leia’s new friends, is clearly implied to be gay. Kitty tells Leia that her “buds are blooming,” to which Leia awkwardly responds, “Yours look great too, Grandma.” Eric tells his parents that Leia has gotten her period and has grown out of watching cartoons. Leia visits her grandparents’ neighbor Gwen, who lives in Donna’s old house, and Gwen jokes about Eric and Donna getting intimate in her bedroom. Gwen’s brother Nate calls the music the girls are listening to “whiny vagina music.” When Leia and new friend Jay leave to hang out at the lake, Kelso, a member of the gang from the original series, tells them to jump in at an angle so it feels like they’re “doing it” with the water. Other suggestive references are made throughout the episode, often appearing as comedic euphemisms, though some are much more obvious than others.

Jay asks Leia if she’s spiritual while flirting with her. Eric, now a college professor, teaches a class called “The Religion of Star Wars.”

God’s name is taken in vain seven times throughout the episode; “a–” is heard five times, while “d–n” and “h—” are used four times and “b–ch” is used three.

Jan. 19, 2023—S1, Ep2: “Free Leia”

Leia, trying desperately to fit in with her new friends, agonizes over what to watch for movie night. Kitty and Red get to know their chaotic neighbor Sherri, mother to Leia’s friends Gwen and Nate.

The episode opens with the teens recreating the iconic “circle” gag from That ‘70s Show; smoke fills the room as the camera pans between them and they dreamily ponder various questions and conspiracies while clearly under the influence of marijuana. We never see any explicit drug usage of even hear it identified, but it’s still painfully obvious what’s going on. Leia wanders upstairs to get snacks for her friends and does a pretty terrible job acting sober in front of her grandparents. Later, Leia and Kitty visit Leo, a stoner character from That ‘70s Show, in order to track down a copy of the movie Clerks. He emerges from his house bringing a cloud of smoke with him.

Sexual references and innuendos continue. Kitty says that her parents kept a whip and furry handcuffs in their room in case of burglars, only realizing as she says it out loud what that really implies. Jay, who works at the local video store, tells Leia that his boss’ license plate says “MOVIESLUT.” Kitty walks into the ‘adults only’ section of the store to say hello to her pastor; she quickly emerges, saying what she saw was “very unholy.” Sherri, Red and Kitty’s free-spirited neighbor, wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage; she asks to borrow a razor before heading out for a date, saying she needs to “whack the weeds.” Red complains about having a half-naked woman “swinging her bits” around his house. Red and Kitty flirt and we see them in their bedroom (fully clothed) after a romantic interlude; Sherri comes out of the bathroom, revealing she had been trapped inside, and makes several jokes about overhearing them together.

Sherri drinks a beer while hanging out with Red and Kitty. The expletive “a–” is used twice.

Jan. 19, 2023—S1, Ep3: “Lip Smackers”

Leia’s friends set out on a mission to get her her first kiss by any means necessary. Sherri enlists Red and Kitty’s help to break up with her devoted boyfriend.

Teenage intimacy is in the spotlight for this episode. Nate and his girlfriend, Nikki, make out heavily in the basement, unaware that their friends are in the room. The gang accuses Ozzie of making up his Canadian boyfriend, which he vehemently denies; we later see Ozzie talking lovingly to him on the phone. Leia flirts with various boys at the mall in an attempt to get one of them to kiss her, using increasingly terrible pickup lines. Her failure is made infinitely worse when she sees Gwen passionately kissing a random teenage guy. Ozzie refers to Jay as a “man whore,” although Jay refuses to kiss Leia, saying he doesn’t want to be some “meaningless hookup.”

It isn’t just the kids dealing with romantic issues, however. Sherri keeps trying to break up with her boyfriend, but she tells Kitty that she just ends up sleeping with him after every attempt. The boyfriend is later revealed to be Fez, one of the central members of the That ‘70s Show gang, who makes constant suggestive references regarding Sherri; he puts her fingers in his mouth when she tries to break things off with him and refers to her rear as “the eighth and ninth wonder of the world.” He makes vague flirtatious passes at Kitty and tells her that he wants to die while making love to Sherri.

God’s name is taken in vain three times in the episode, while the expletive “a–” is heard twice and “h—” and “d–n” are used once each.

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Lauren Cook Bio Pic
Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.

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