Review: That ’90s Show Season 1 – New Decade with Old Friends

If you watched That ‘70s Show when it was airing on FOX, or caught it on reruns and streaming, you’ll know how much its humor and goofiness resonated with viewers. For some, it was a fun throwback to a decade of their youth, while for a new generation, it was a window into some relatable shenanigans and fun times. The characters we came to know over eight seasons eventually grew up and moved on. And while there was a terrible follow-up to the series that focused on the 80s, it wasn’t a true sequel to That ‘70s Show. It would be a long time before we see what happened afterward to Eric and his friends with That 90s Show on Netflix.

The show takes place in the mid-90s, around 15 years after the ending of That ‘70s Show in the summertime. Eric and Donna have a young daughter named Leia who spends her summer vacation in Point Place with her grandparents, rather than going to Space Camp with her dad Eric. Leia meets a bunch of kids living in town and the new crew ends up hanging out in the familiar basement from the original show. Red and Kitty once again watch over the teens as they get into tons of goofy scenarios and humorous moments during Leia’s summer in Point Place. For those who watched the original show, the tone and humor are right in line with what they know. Even the transitions from before are done in a similar fashion, but with a 90s color scheme and twist.

Each of the kids has different personality traits that are silly and mirror a lot of what was done with Eric and his friends. Leia is every bit her father’s daughter, with an awkward personality and quirkiness that we saw with Eric However, she definitely has the clever mind and problem-solving skills of Donna, which makes her charming and fun to watch. Leia falls for one of the boys in the group named Jay, who just happens to be the child of someone the audience knows, making for a surprise and hilarious appearance.

Leia’s friend Gwen is a rebellious teen girl with a blunt personality, but a warm heart for her new bestie. She’s played by Ashley Aufderheide, and much of her antics play off a lot of the teen rebellious attitude from the 90s, sometimes even to a fault. Not all of the jokes and punchlines land, but there are a few that will get you to have a genuine laugh.

Reyn Doi is Ozzie and always has a snide remark about everything, but with funny and precise timing. A few of the comebacks Ozzie makes to different characters will catch you off guard. At the same time, some of the episodes he’s in can get a little heavy, especially when Ozzie decides to come out as gay to Kitty Foreman. Luckily there is humor to balance it out that is both tasteful and consistent with the rest of the show. There isn’t a point where things get too comical or preachy with it, which helps maintain the overall fun tone of the show without being afraid to tackle heavy subjects. That ‘70s Show was able to do so a number of times throughout its run, and it’s good to see this follow-up do the same.

Nikki and Nate are the other two characters within the group that don’t offer as much until the tail end of the show. Nikki is Nate’s girlfriend who is intelligent and goal-driven, while Nate is lighthearted and always looking to have fun. They’re both part of the shenanigans that Leia finds herself in throughout the show, but don’t really have big moments until the end of the season. Nikki and Nate together almost feel like a different version of Jackie and Kelso from That ’70s Show, but not as funny. The very last episode has a big tease about Nate and how he will affect the group in the next season, but it happens a bit too randomly and feels almost forced. The same can be said for Nikki, both with what happens with Nate and how it will affect their relationship going forward.

But what about the decade in which the show takes place, as well as the cameos by characters from That ’70s Show? There are a few times when you can feel the 90s nostalgia very strongly, including when Kitty and Red finally get a computer at the house. It’s a nice touch to see how these characters react to things changing, but it’s never really expanded upon too much. Another moment finds Leia going to a video store with Kitty, which seems to be a Blockbuster video but there are no signs that show it. Leia also ends up going to a rave with the crew, filled with glow sticks and wild outfits for everyone. If you were hoping for a lot of 90s easter eggs and nods, then you’ll be disappointed. Chances are we’ll see more overt 90s references in the next season.

As far as the cast we knew from the previous show, we get to see them sparingly. They have continuations of their stories without overtaking too much of the plot focused on the kids throughout the season. Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith reprise their roles as Kitty and Red Foreman, who are the two we see the most of from the old cast. But right at the beginning, we get to see Topher Grace and Laura Prepon as Eric and Donna drop off their daughter. Within that first episode, we not only get a lot of details about what they’ve been doing, as well as how their relationship hasn’t changed since we last saw them. But if you thought that was it, then you’ll be happy to know that both Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis appear as Michael Kelso and Jackie Burkhart. We won’t spoil how they appear, but it’s a great moment for fans of the original show.

To compliment that, we also get to see Fez, Leo, and Bob at different points of the show. Each of them have a part to play in various storylines, with some being funnier than others. However, one major cast member from That ‘70s Show who is missing is Hyde, who was played by Danny Masterson. This could be due to the real-life controversy that happened with Danny a few years prior to the release of That ‘90s Show. Luckily, we aren’t given any explanation for why we don’t see Hyde at all, not even a passing mention. This leaves the door open in case the creators of the show ever decide to bring him in. Hopefully, it doesn’t end up with a haphazard ending for a character that many viewers loved from That ‘70s Show.

At its heart, That ‘90s Show is a good follow-up for fans of the original show. It gives some answers to what happened in the years after the clock struck midnight at the end of That ‘70s Show, while also opening up the potential for more fun stories with these characters. It’s only the first season with the new cast of teens and it will take some time for them to grow into their roles. Whether this show ends up being funnier or better than its predecessor is up for debate, at least for now.

Did you get to watch That ‘90s Show on Netflix? Were you a fan of the original show before this came out? Post your thoughts in the comments section and let us know!

That '90s Show
  • 80%
    That '90s Show - 80%
80%

Good

The first season is funny and is a great sequel to its predecessor, keeping in line with the tone and humor. Some characters are good, while others need more time to grow into something special. There are a lot of goofy moments that work out well, despite having a few stumbles throughout the season.

Jakejames Lugo

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