By: Carl Richardson III
That 70s Show is a TV show that focuses on the lives of six teenagers who live in the fictional town of Point Place, Wisconsin. The series follows Eric Foreman, a nerdy yet thoughtful and caring seventeen-year-old boy who lives the life of a “normal” teenage boy. His father is a World War II and Korean War veteran who is usually seen berating and demeaning Eric and his friends. His mother is a loving yet overprotective nurturer who finds solace in bathing her problems in liquor. And finally his friends are a group of degenerates who uses his basement as a fortress to perform their misdeed of basking in contraband. So, in a way we can all “relate” to him. Over the course of the eight seasons, we see Eric and his friend’s’ lives evolve as they deal with the problems of most coming- of- age youth; whether it’s drugs, school, premarital sex, family dysfunction, or just plain, old mischief. We also see a lot of character development throughout the show from all the central characters, which helps the teenage audience relate with the characters as they transition from teenage kids to young adults trying to find life outside of Point Place.
Over the past twenty-one years of my life, I have watched a lot of great sitcoms, and if I had to make a top five list, That 70s Show would definitely be on that list. The thing that really caught my attention was the fact that this show came out in 1998, and it actually passed as a show that was set in the mid-to-late 1970s. The song choices, the background layout, the poofy hair, the hippie culture, and the hostile criticism towards our “corrupt authoritarian government” all made this show look like a very believable adaptation of the 1970s. In this generation of TV and music, most people usually don’t put a lot of thought into the layout of their work, and they just rely on their script to get them by, but That 70s Show revolved around the concept of authenticity. What I personally think made this show great, was the fact that it felt like it was real life, and every time I watch this show it feels like I’m living in the ‘70s myself. The opening theme song was rock and roll, the circle that they participate in in every single episode feels like a kumbaya circle for stoned hippies, the transitions from scene to scene were very smooth with a mellow 70s lava lamp-like background, and characters usually rebelled against the mistrusted American government at the time by causing mayhem. It was also clever that the writers decided to touch on subjects of drug- use, premarital sex, and the American government in a humorous manner that gives light to topics that were hard to talk about during that time.
While this is a very good show and undoubtedly one of my favorite shows of all time, it did have its flaws just like any other show. One thing that I wasn’t a fan of was the final season of That 70s Show. In season 8, we see the departure of Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher’s characters Eric Foreman and Michael Kelso due to the actors trying to pursue other projects outside of the show. To fill the gap, the show decided to bring in a new character named Randy Pearson who was portrayed by Josh Meyers to be the new Kelso/Eric, and in my opinion it failed miserably.
As a fan, I felt as though Randy was forced on to us by the production team to try and make light of the fact that they had just lost two well-loved and popular characters, but now looking back, it would have been best if they had just left it alone. The fact that Randy possessed Michael Kelso’s looks and Eric Foreman’s nerdy, yet charismatic charm probably looked like a good idea on paper, but once it hit the small screen it was a catastrophic fail. The character of Randy Pearson came off to me as annoying and very corny, and I cannot recall a single moment in the show where he genuinely made me laugh. He simply tried too hard and you can tell that the character tried to force laughs out of the audience to no avail, and while I’m being honest he was one of the main reasons why the eighth season was my least favorite of the series.
An additional thing I didn’t like was when they decided to just throw Jackie and Hyde’s relationships out the door like it meant nothing to the fans. From season 1 through season 4, no relationship on the show was more acrimonious than Jackie and Hyde’s relationship, and if you would’ve told me at the beginning of the series that they would end up together, I would probably not believe you. As the show went on, though, I saw the chemistry that they built with one another after Jackie had left Kelso, and once they got together I cheered like a little school girl. What made them so unique in my eyes was the fact that they are polar opposites of one another, yet they bond so well, and the audience can tell that their love for one another was real, and they turned out to be my favorite couple throughout the series. In season eight however; Jackie and Hyde end up breaking up for good after Jackie was caught almost sleeping with Kelso, and Hyde ran away and married a stripper in Vegas. But it wasn’t the breakup itself that had me livid, it was the direction that their overall relationship itself went in. I was opposed to the fact that once their relationship was over they went back to hating each other as if there were no feelings left over. It left fans feeling very uneasy, and it destroyed all the character development that the writers used to build up their relationship in the first place.
That 70s Show has its pros and cons just like all television shows, but what I really love about this show is that it is authentic, it is unique, and its humor grabs the audience’s attention making them want more after each episode. Sure, I like some episodes more than others, but the show is consistent in that it stays true to its roots from beginning to end. Even when they made the changes I didn’t like, it was still the same old That 70s Show. If I had to pick one show to watch over and over again from beginning to end for the rest of my life, it would probably be That 70s Show, because it will continue to reel me in and the humor will never bore me.