• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Review: That 90’s Show

ByRosie Dean Harding

Feb 14, 2023
Kurtwood Smith

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was initially drawn to That 90’s Show by nostalgia for its predecessor, That 70’s Show (1998-2006). I had hoped for a full-fledged reunion starring almost all the old cast. However, I became drawn to the antics and drama of this new group of teenagers hanging out in the Forman’s basement a generation later.  

The most alluring aspect of That 90’s Show is without a doubt that feeling of nostalgia. From the moment Kitty Forman began dancing around the kitchen to ‘Groove Is In The Heart,’ I knew that it would be one of the shows I could rewatch whenever I needed a laugh. It was refreshing  to see that despite the sixteen years since That 70’s Show ended, Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith convincingly remain Kitty and Red Forman. Their previous years of experience on set together really shows, and their dynamic is surely one of the key things that draws viewers in. 

The show gets off to a steady start; the characters follow on strongly from the likes of Donna (Laura Prepon) and Eric (Topher Grace), and the cast clearly work well together, creating a brilliant atmosphere on screen. Callie Haverda stars as Leia Forman, who does an excellent job, with her character successfully inheriting the dorkiness of her parents, while she tries to navigate the life of a teenager, in a new town and with a new set of friends.  

That 90’s Show chose to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, not only by its use of almost identical stylistic choices, like the opening credits, but also through its fun incorporation of the decade’s clothing, technology, culture and importantly, music, creating Point Place in the 90’s. A particular highlight of mine was seeing Gwen’s (Ashley Aufderheide) Riot Grrrl poster hanging up on the wall, a subtle way of letting the music taste of the generation shine through.  

Importantly, I was glad to see the absence of some previous faces which starred in That 70’s Show. Unsurprisingly, after the very public sexual assault allegations against Danny Masterson, the show made the right decision not bring him back as a cameo for the new show. The show’s decision not to include him is a crucial step to creating a safe space for actors, in addition to proving the show’s support to anyone particularly impacted.  

However, despite That 90’s Show’s extraordinarily strong start, it is safe to say that it will struggle to meet the iconic mark that its predecessor left on late 90’s and early 2000’s tv history. Like I mentioned above, there is merit to the show’s dedication to remain as true to That 70’s Show as possible, but it is an extremely tricky task. I believe attempting to recreate the same show set in a different decade is something very few could truly master. I am sure many, like me, struggled not to directly compare it. Although this does not take away from the sitcom’s fun energy, it did leave a slightly artificial taste in my mouth.  

I would still label That 90’s Show as a great sitcom, making me laugh and cringe at times. The silliness of the characters alone makes it worth watching. From the pilot episode, it manages to evoke a sense of nostalgia even for viewers who didn’t live through the decade. It preserves its charm by being saturated in the 90’s music and culture, as well as importantly staying away from problematic actors. All these elements tie together to create a well-rounded, charming (albeit cringey) sitcom that will have you binge-watching the whole season in one sitting!

9865 Kurtwood Smith signing” by Kikishua is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.