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‘​​​​That ’90s Show’ Review: A Light-Hearted Break from Reality

"That '90s Show" Production Still.
"That '90s Show" Production Still. By Courtesy of Patrick Wymore/Netflix
By Hailey E. Krasnikov, Crimson Staff Writer

The “That ’70s Show” spinoff-turned-Netflix-show “That ’90s Show” reminds us to not take life too seriously, as we enter the life of teenager Leia Forman (Callie Haverda) whose sole concern is to have a memorable summer in 1995.

This gleeful sitcom follows Leia and her newly-formed, adventurous friend group, as she visits Wisconsin under the not-so-very-strict supervision of her grandparents for the summer.

From the opening scenes, it is made abundantly clear that the nature of this show will be humorous. However, one can clearly see how this overly emphasized comedy may either take away from the story or make it even more enjoyable for its viewers.

This is aptly illustrated by the characters that are featured during Leia’s once in a lifetime summer experience. These characters tend to strongly embody different high school stereotypes. Nate Runck (Maxwell Acee Donovan) is portrayed as a typical, fun-loving jock, who thinks of himself as an amazing boyfriend, but seems to push aside his girlfriend for his best friend, Jay. Runck is dating Nikki (Sam Morelos), an intellectual who seems to be a little too good for him considering her commitment to the relationship and ambitions, but she’s still convinced they belong together. Their dynamic parallels to a less toxic version of the stereotypical nerd and jock trope.

However, Nate and Nikki’s relationship is only scratching the surface of the teenage drama and complexities that the first season of the new Netflix show portrays. A major plot point of the season centers around Leia wanting to obtain her first kiss and an unexpected crush on Jay Kelso (Mace Coronel), who comes from a family of well known flirts, seeing his dad, Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) was also portrayed as a player in “That ’70s Show.” This results in a very predictable storyline featuring an awkward chemistry between Leia and Jay as the summer progresses. This dynamic is heart-warming and entertaining to watch at times, but lacks depth.

Leia’s summer would have not been complete without her grandparents, Kitty Foreman (Debra Jo Rupp) and Red Foreman (Kurtwood Smith). Between learning how to use a computer (which Red is extremely skeptical of) and catching Leia and her friends going to a rave, they never leave viewers without entertainment and are a highlight of the show.

Similarly, there were no major twists and turns in this season, leaving the viewer very little to ponder or become invested in. This may not be a negative thing depending on the mindset one has when viewing this creation depicting youth and their temporary life crises. If this is all the show intends to be, then that is completely adequate, if a bit disappointing.

The unserious nature of the show may remind viewers that although something seems like the end of the world in the moment, later on in life it will just be another laughable moment you vaguely remember from when you were young. “That ’90s Show’ could just be the perfect piece of media to watch when your midterms or life decisions are becoming overwhelming.

This is not to say the show does not touch on more important issues like the path to figuring out one’s true identity and accepting their sexuality, through the eyes of Ozzie (Reyn Doi), through illustrating the characters’ struggles and fears in doing so. While the characters introduced to us here tend to match neat stereotypes, they all experience very specific and different character development arcs as time goes on. Leia’s friend group slowly grows on viewers as their motivations and concerns about their life’s journey throughout her summer visit become clear

As for “That ’70s Show” appearances, the most frequent are glimpses of Eric Foreman (Topher Grace) and Donna Foreman (Laura Prepon) checking in, and trying to convince Leia that Wisconsin is not the place she wants to spend her summer.

Overall this show is ideal for viewers looking for a laugh and a hint of nostalgia, with enjoyable coming of age stories for multiple young adults, all wrapped up in one summer.

—Staff Writer Hailey E. Krasnikov can be reached at

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