‘That ’90s Show’ fails to exceed expectations as ‘That ’70s Show’ sequel; underwhelms fans


Image taken from metacritic

Side by side comparison of the original cast from that 70s show and the new cast of the sequel, that 90s show. Many of the new characters are connected to the original cast, such as Leia being Donna and Eric’s daughter.

I have never been a fan of reboots, spin offs or sequels, simply because they never live up to my expectations. When I found out that there would be a sequel to “That ’70s Show” premiering on  Netflix, I was worried that the charm and humor of the original series would not be preserved. However, I still held a glimmer of hope. But as expected, the charm of the original “That ‘70s Show” was nowhere to be found in the reboot, and “That ’90s Show” underwhelmed in every aspect. 

The show takes place in Point Place Wisconsin, during 1995. Leia Forman (Callie Haverda), daughter of Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon) is visiting her grandparents for the summer (Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp). She befriends her rebellious neighbor, Gwen, (Ashely Aufderheide) who introduces her to the rest of the friend group, Jay, Nikki, Ozzie and Nate. Together, they partake in drinking, dating and drugs just like the teenagers in “That 70’s Show.”  

Leia is just like her dad with a rather nerdy personality, but she quickly evolves into a, “normal teenage girl,” when she’s introduced to her new friends. Gwen continuously helps Leia break out of her shell throughout the show and make her more relaxed. Meanwhile, Jay Kelso (yes, this is the son of Michael and Jackie), is interested in Leia. Throughout the show we get to see their relationship have its strengths and weaknesses, something very common for teenagers to experience. 

These characters were definitely the most entertaining to watch, like when Gwen is explaining what Jay was really like before Leia showed up for the summer, seeing how his priorities have changed since meeting her. 

But as expected, the charm of the original “That ‘70s Show” was nowhere to be found in the reboot, and “That ’90s Show” underwhelmed in every aspect. 

— Katherine Phelps '25

“That ‘90s Show” is really more geared to a newer generation of kids, considering the original cast members do not have main character roles like they once did before. Jackie and Kelso only appear for a couple minutes in the pilot, Fez appears briefly in two out of the 10 episodes in the season, and Eric and Donna show up sporadically throughout the show. However, despite the cast not being the same, the show still pays homage to the original. For example: the theme song is still the same, but with  more of a “90s feel.” Also, the same Vista Cruiser that made an appearance in nearly every episode of “That 70s Show,” is gifted to Leia for her birthday.

But “That 90s Show” really missed the mark on the emotional and heartwarming moments “That 70s Show” had to offer. Though it was no doubt one of the funniest shows of the early 2000s, there were some serious moments as well, such as when Donna and Eric broke up. When Leia and Jay would get into disagreements during the reboot, that same passion and emotion was lost. However, this could be because the show has only been on for one season, and we don’t know the characters well enough yet. 

That said, “That ’90s Show” is not horrible. There are enjoyable and entertaining moments like when the group buys a keg and dresses Leia up as a pregnant woman so she wouldn’t get carded. But overall, the show lacks the personal feel “That 70s Show” had. However, I believe the cast has a lot of potential and I think it’ll be interesting to watch the characters grow in upcoming seasons. 

Even though the show did not exceed my expectations, I will most likely still tune in next season to give it another chance in hope that some of the original “That ’70s Show” charm can still be resurrected for good.