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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Travel to the past with ‘That ‘90s Show’

Keely Menyhart

“That ‘70s Show” is a timeless comedic masterpiece, so it was inevitable that the creators would create a spinoff years later.

In the early 2000s, FOX decided to collect a brand new cast and bring the ‘70s into the ‘80s. “That ‘80s Show” was ultimately a bust and canceled after one season due to a minimal audience and low reviews.

However, last year Netflix announced they would take a stab at a spinoff, causing fans to be both ecstatic and hesitant.

“That ‘90s Show” premiered Jan. 19, picking up about 15 years after the initial show finale. Bringing back a majority of the original cast, it was sure to draw in fans old and new alike. 

It centers around the daughter of Donna, portrayed by Laura Prepon, and Eric Foreman, portrayed by Topher Grace. Their daughter Leia, played by Callie Hervada, spends the summer of 1995 with her grandparents, Kitty and Red, played by returning stars Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith respectively, for the summer in Point Place, Wisconsin —  home to “That ‘70s Show.”

Actors from the predecessor return in a lovable yet cringey manner. Some of the roles seem forced just so they could have those actors incorporated back in. Characters such as Eric and Donna returned with grace as they dropped off their daughter for the summer. Donna also returns in a few other episodes to deal with some issues that arise with Leia, such as having the “birds and the bees” talk.

Fez, played by Wilmer Valderrama, is the largest character return other than Kitty and Red. He ends up dating Kitty and Red’s next-door neighbor, except he seems almost out of place and should have made a quick cameo like the others.

Lastly, Jackie and Kelso, played by real-life married couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, make a return to express their remarriage. Their quick appearance also tells the audience that they are the parents of Jay, a new main character. 

Many throwbacks of “That ‘70s Show” are seen through the characters, setting and writing. The nostalgia of the ‘90s hits home with anyone who was a teen during this time. Despite the ability to reminisce, there were a few small but noticeable discrepancies.

In episode two, Leia and Kitty travel to Video Haven, which is seemingly a knockoff Blockbuster, in search of the movie “Clerks.” However, there are movies seen on the shelves that would have been impossible to be on VHS in July of 1995.

The “new releases” section contains hits of 1995 such as Batman Forever and Apollo 13. At first glance this makes sense since both films premiered that year, however, they weren’t released in theaters until November.

There were also a few moments in the show that resulted in confusion due to the props used throughout. Multiple logos were featured from the 2000s such as the Doritos logo from 2013 and the Pringles logo from 2021.

Despite these minor inconsistencies, “That ‘90s Show” contained its predecessor’s classic laid-back humor, nostalgia and simplicity.

The short 10-episode series left the audience wanting more of the characters, plot and fabulous one-liners; which is exactly why Netflix has already renewed the show for a second season.

Most importantly, the writers brought back that undeniable likable vibe from “That ‘70s Show” that makes it almost impossible to turn on the first episode and not finish the series in one sitting.

A new friend group in Eric Foreman’s basement delivers a unique plot and characters, yet keeps many of the same concepts from the original show. 

Leia’s first friend in town is her neighbor Gwen, played by Ashley Auferheide, who then introduces her to her brother Nate, played by Maxwell Acee Donovan, and his girlfriend Nikki, played by Sam Morelos. Nikki and Nate become the classic side-by-side extremely in love high school relationship, which was also seen in “That ‘70s Show.”

The last two members of this friend group are Ozzie, Gwen’s best friend, played by Reyn Doi, and Jay, played by Mace Cornonel. Jay very quickly becomes the love interest of Leia. 

Prior to “That ‘90s Show,” Mace Cornonel was in contract with Nickelodeon, playing roles such as Dicky in “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn. Jay is a much more complex character and Cornonel took it with great responsibility. There is truly no other actor who could step into this role and deliver with such charm and comedic tendencies.

The writers brought 2023 into the ‘90s in the absolute best way possible — by spreading LGBTQ+ awareness.

Episode five steered away from the usual comedy to address the charming Ozzie’s inner conflict. As an integral part of the friend group, he has come out as gay to all of them, however, he decides it is time to tell Kitty who he truly is.

Throughout one of the episodes, Ozzie backs out of telling Kitty for fear of her reaction — despite being the sweetest woman alive, Kitty is an older woman living throughout the nineties. When he finally gains the courage to open up to her, Kitty responds like the kind soul she is.

“I know that a lot of people came up to me after we had filmed the show that Friday night and they said, ‘that scene made me really emotional,’” said Reyn Doi in an interview with PEOPLE. “And I still get comments like that today. So, I’m happy that [comes across] on screen.”

Inserting such an impactful matter into a comedic show is a risky and challenging thing to accomplish, however, “That ‘90s Show” writers did it with grace.

If you look past the mistakes made, the spinoff is a masterpiece in the making catering to old and new fans alike.

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

Follow Kayla on Twitter @blonigenkayla

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About the Contributors
Kayla Blonigen, Copy Editor | she/they
Kayla is a senior majoring in print/web journalism from Wilmington, Mass. She transferred in 2022 from Hofstra University where she was involved in Her Campus and the Hofstra Chronicle. Kayla continues to write for Her Campus Suffolk and is a national writer for Spoon University. After graduating in spring 2024, she hopes to continue writing for a magazine and/or work in the social media field. When not studying or working, she likes to spend her time shopping, writing and hanging out with her cat, Ozzie!
Keely Menyhart, Asst. Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/her

Keely is a junior from Merritt Island, Florida. She is majoring in journalism with a print/web concentration and a minor in advertising. When she is not writing for the Journal, you can find her walking through museums, listening to music or rewatching her favorite shows. You can also find her exploring record stores and obsessing over new music. Keely plans on continuing her work from the Journal after graduating by covering music and entertainment for news publications.

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Travel to the past with ‘That ‘90s Show’