We hang out down the street, in the same old place where we used to meet. I won’t lie, I was excited about it. Part of me knew there was a very real possibility of a train wreck. But there was that other part of me that held out hope. After all, That 70’s Show was a big part of my teenage years. I was hoping That 90’s Show on Netflix would have the same spark for me.
That 70s show was fun, had relatable characters, and gave me a (sometimes accurate, sometimes not) look at life in the 70s – the time my parents were growing up. Fast forward to today, I have a 13-year-old daughter, and I’m excited to give her a look at the 90s through the lens of a modern show that she can relate to better than reruns of its predecessor.
This ’90s show is on air now, but is it really worth watching? The nostalgia alone made it absolutely worth the 30 minutes I spent on the pilot episode. Of course, not everything is perfect. Below are my general thoughts and impressions.
Light spoiler warning: In this article, I mention funny callbacks from That 70s and some funny lines said by the cast. But I’m careful not to give too much away, don’t worry.
Kitty, Red and Eric steal the show and take me back in time
I have to say the best part of the pilot was seeing how Red and Eric’s dynamic did and didn’t change. Towards the end of the episode, Eric threatens to put his foot up Leia’s ass. Eric is immediately horrified, Red says he’s the proudest Eric he’s ever been. These moments were really a lot of fun for me and they made me laugh like crazy.
Kitty was as energetic and witty as ever. She had plenty of jokes and her usual eccentric charm. I found Donna’s performance a bit more flattering, mostly just because she didn’t get as many witty replies and jokes as the other returnees. She still had her moments and seeing Eric and Donna on top of the car in the driveway was an absolute throwback to my teenage years.
There were also a lot of meta references to jokes and locations from That 70s Show. Things like dumbass, get foot in your ass, and other very red-centric phrases. There were also callbacks to famous locations such as the famous Foreman’s Cellar and the sometimes deadly water tower. Cannabis must have played its part as well, as the teenagers found an old batch that is apparently still magically good. Moldy myself…but alas it is TV and I think I will suspend disbelief this time.
There were also many references from the 90s
Honestly, I felt transported back to the 90s while watching this show. There were no distracting cell phones in the hands of teenagers, landlines were mentioned, and the first episode featured a lot of classic 90s songs. I also enjoyed the references to things like Zima, a really awful alcoholic drink that was popular in the 90s and made a brief comeback not too long ago, only to disappear again.
I’m not so sure about the new lineup
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Each new teenage character introduced in the pilot had plenty of personality and quirks. There were also a lot of parallels with the characters of Those 70s, starting with Leia, who is very similar to her father in terms of sass and wit, but not nearly as nerdy. But she’s still just as awkward. Then there’s her new best friend, Gwen, who has the same rebellious “try everything once” mentality that made Hyde such a popular character.
Really all the characters were fun and it felt decently written. But chemistry is not for me. Let’s go back to the Tista 70s show. That’s when Donna and Eric instantly clicked for me, as did Kelso and Hyde. The fez was weird, but it felt right. Jackie was probably the only one that took me a few seasons to fully warm to. All the characters fed off each other with great jokes and chemistry to spare.
The chemistry between the new characters isn’t as strong as the cast of Those 70s, but hopefully the interactions will improve over time.
That 90’s show tries to do the same thing, introducing jokes that are often too corny but designed to get laughs. I just don’t feel like the characters mesh well and at times these new characters felt a bit too much like forced caricatures of the teenage characters of Those 70s.
But it’s not all bad. I thought Leia and Gwen’s new friendship had a lot of potential, and these two teenagers had probably the best on-screen chemistry of the series.
I also really liked Ozzie, and while not all of his lines were great, he felt like a promising character. The best of all the new characters was definitely Leia. The new member of the Foreman perfectly matched the demeanor and tone of the rest of the Foremans, and her relationship with her grandfather really resembled that of Red and Eric. I also really liked Leia’s relationship with her friends and the funny moment when she uses her debating skills to buy a keg tap.
Should You Be Watching That ’90s Show?
That 90s show is perfect for those of you who love the original or are just nostalgic for the 90s. It’s also a good way to bond with your kids, making it your next evening’s family TV show. I’m less sure it has the potential for a new audience, other than those teenagers who were basically convinced by their parents to watch it. This show really focused on nostalgia for That 70s show, even more so than nostalgia for the actual 90s. I hope he can find his footing and establish himself as more than that in the coming episodes.
The good news is that underneath all the references and callbacks, there were some sparks of genuine humor with the new characters. It might take a little longer for me to fall in love with them than it took me to take to the original Point Place kids. While I can’t tell you if you should watch it or not, I will tell you that I will be watching the pilot again tonight with my kids. And I’m definitely excited to see the rest of the series.
Does That ’90s Show live up to the hype?