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Sunday, April 21
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

OPINION: Netflix’s ‘That ‘90s Show’ missed the mark

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Growing up, I was a big fan of “That ‘70s Show.” I believe that it’s one of the greatest TV sitcoms to ever air. The audience gets to hang out down the street in Eric Forman’s basement with relatable teenage characters and some of their loving-yet-animated parents that you grow to know and love over the course of seven seasons. “That ‘70s Show” is unique as it takes you back to a time that many viewers did not get to experience. Yet you still find many similarities between yourself and this group of teens growing up in the ‘70s.  

So, when I heard that there was going to be a reboot of “That ‘70s Show” set in the ‘90s, I was excited, yet weary. This is not the first reboot of a beloved show from the past and it certainly won't be the last. Reboots often have a reputation of failing to live up to the standards set by their predecessors.  

When the series was announced, I was filled with anticipation to see the direction that Netflix took. And, as I watched, I was underwhelmed to say the least. There were some elements that I thoroughly enjoyed. The performance from the returning cast felt genuine. As I watched, I felt as though no time had passed between now and “That ‘70s Show.” This is a testament to how incredible the original cast is. To me, it felt so natural to see Eric being a nerdy, sweet dad, because that aligns with his personality in the ‘70s. Red and Kitty Forman have kept their same spirit, and it is nice to see Red soften up his hard exterior in retirement. Every original cast member did so well in representing their characters as if they have still been filming the show since the series ended in 2006.  

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One of the main flaws in the show is that we don’t see enough of the original cast. The only two series regulars from the original cast are Red and Kitty. Every other original character who returned was only in a handful of scenes. Fans of “That ‘70s Show” came back to see their favorite characters of the past. And this new group of teens does not even come close to living up to the old gang.  

I do not wish to over-criticize the new actors, as they are almost all children who may just need more experience. However, the writing of these characters is where things fall flat.  

Leia, the daughter of Eric and Donna, feels like a lukewarm reimagining of Eric. She is quirky and shy, but it reads as uncomfortable and cringeworthy onscreen. Her comedic timing is nothing like how Topher Grace portrayed Eric, and that is where Leia’s character is compromised. Every new teen feels like a Disney Channel version of the original characters. 

Nate is a stupid yet sweet high school jock character who I assume is supposed to resemble Kelso because he’s dating Nikki, the new Jackie. But he doesn’t have any of the qualities of Kelso besides being an airhead.  

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Jay, the son of Kelso and Jackie, is also meant to be a character reminiscent of Kelso. Jay’s character is meant to represent more of the pretty boy ladies' man persona that his family is notorious for. We see Jay try to break that stereotype when he develops feelings for Leia. This storyline was nice to see and felt like one of the only character choices that worked.  

Gwen, meant to represent the new Hyde, lacks the laid-back and effortlessly Zen nature of Hyde. Instead, the writers try too hard to make her edgy and different from other kids her age. It reads very forced and disingenuous.  

Ozzie, the new Fez, and Nikki were highly forgettable. 

While there were some good elements to this reboot, the poor writing coupled with the almost entirely new cast and subpar plot points left me with a feeling of disappointment. However, I do hope that there is a season two and the writers will attempt to fix the glaring issues that were produced in the first season. 

Ravana Gumm (she/her) is a freshman studying journalism.

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