Does ‘That 90s Show’ Live Up to the Original?

*Spoiler Warning: This article contains spoilers about “That 70s Show” and its spinoff, “That 90s Show.”

“That 90s Show,” the long-awaited spinoff of “That 70s Show” (1998-2006) is finally here. I finished it in one night, and here are my thoughts and comparisons to the original. 

The first thing I noticed when I started watching “That 90s Show” was the house, basement and overall setting are still the same. The house of Red Forman (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty Forman (Debra Joe Rupp) seems as if it has been untouched since the 70s except for some “modern” upgrades like a new phone and even a computer the couple can barely figure out how to use. Kitty and Red seem to still have their bubbly and witty romance, especially now that Eric (Topher Grace) moved out. 

Courtesy of Netflix.

The plot this time does not revolve around Eric Forman, but rather Leia (Callie Haverda), Donna (Laura Prepon) and Eric’s daughter. Yes, they are still together and the apple really did not fall far from the tree, as Leia has the same panicky quirkiness we saw from Eric in “That 70s Show.” The show starts with Eric, Donna and Leia visiting the Forman house for a weekend for a Fourth of July celebration. At some point during the weekend, Leia runs into her grandparents’ neighbor who turns out to be a rebellious teen named Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide). Gwen then introduces Leia to the rest of her crew, each having a similar personality as the original cast when they were teenagers. 

Leia is faced with a decision: does she want to stay in Point Place, Wisconsin, or return to Chicago with her family? She has discovered a new group of friends and even a love interest. But here is my favorite twist: her love interest is Jay Kelso (Mace Coronel), Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) and Jackie’s (Mila Kunis) son. Kelso and Jackie make a very brief appearance, running into the Forman house to announce they are getting married- for a second time. It’s safe to say they have the same kind of relationship as they did in high school. And in case anyone was wondering, Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) is a ladies’ man that now sells famous beauty products. And no, we still don’t know what country he’s from.

Courtesy of Netflix.

Leia obviously decided to stay for the sake of pursuing a real social life, and she got to relive a 90s version of Eric’s high school experiences. Red Forman even gifts her Eric’s Vista Cruiser! This show has the perfect amount of nostalgia and the perfect amount of humor and it had a great diverse cast. I didn’t think the new group of teenagers would live up to the originals, but I loved them. First of all, Netflix did a great job at casting the children of Kelso and Eric. But in terms of the other teens, my favorite was Ozzie (Reyn Doi), their friend that struggles with coming out as gay and has a very sweet (and tear-jerking) moment with Kitty. The other friends are Nate (Maxwell Acee Donovan), a football jock and his girlfriend, Nikki (Sam Morelos). To be fair, I was a little confused about this couple’s involvement because they made out pretty much the whole season, but I guess they were good comedic relief. 

Even though I really wish this spinoff was about the original cast, I’m not disappointed with the outcome. To be fair, Kitty and Red were always my favorites and they were in the entire season. But for those who were more interested in the return of all the characters and nothing else, this spinoff definitely isn’t for you. Regardless, I think the plot was really good and there weren’t too many exaggerated twists to make the vibe of the show so overly-90s. There were little twists, like the transition scenes having a glitchy background rather than hippie-like colors. And I enjoyed those small changes because the soul of “That 70s Show” was still there. The ending was wholesome and bittersweet. So all in all, it’s not 100% the same as the 90s-00s fan favorite sitcom, and nothing will ever compare to the original in my eyes, but I still enjoyed every second of “That 90s Show.” It appears that many viewers felt the same given that Netflix just announced on Friday that the show is being renewed for a second season!

“That 90s Show” is available for streaming on Netflix. 

By Amena Ahmed

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