Enjoying That 70's Show

I hadn’t really seen That 70’s Show since it first came out (I think I watched a season or two then). Now I’ve been watching it (mostly YouTube clips, sometimes whole episodes), and I’m surprised at how much I enjoy it. (Of course, I’m skipping season 8 execpt for the finale).

Part of my surprise is due to my lack of patience for multi-cam, laugh track sitcoms. I used to love Friends, but I find it hard to watch now. I much more prefer shows like The Office, Parks and Rec, Community, etc.

Here are some of the reasons I think I am enjoying it:

  • The writing is really good. They do a good job of balancing between funny comedy and emotional scenes that resonate. And while there are running gags, they don’t seem to fall into the standard sitcom tropes.
  • One of the things I like less now about Friends (and other shows) is that the characters just seem really mean to each other, in an unpleasant way. There’s some of that in T70S, but since the characters are teenagers, it doesn’t seem so toxic. For better or for worse, that’s how teenager act. Adults - not so much…
  • A laugh track itself can be distracting from the comedy. But beyond that, when you remove the laugh track from a sitcom (plenty of YouTube videos have done that), you notice that the characters themselves never laugh at the jokes that are happening during the show. But these young actors during T70S break frequently, and laugh, or at least really smile, during the funny bits. That allows me to connect with the humor in a much less artificial fashion.
  • Watching sitcoms from the 90s (or earlier) can seem dated. But since this is taking place in the 70s, that’s not really a problem. So even if some interactions and scenes aren’t comfortable by today’s standards, I don’t find myself judging them that way, since 40 years ago people acted differently.
  • There is so much creativity. They didn’t hesitate to think outside the box, and they have all kinds of dream/dance/fantasy/etc sequences that really show the talents of the writers, directors and producers (and I guess the actors too).

Plus I’m sure there’s some degree of nostalgia for me as well. Although I was a young kid in the 70s, it does bring me back to my teenage years in the 80s.

It’s interesting actually, that so many of these coming of age shows - Happy Days, Wonder Years, That 70s Show - take place 20 years before they were filmed. I wonder if we’re in line for shows from the early 2000s…

I think in Friends having the characters act like teenagers at times was part of the formula, the characters were supposed to still be learning to be adults.

I wonder how this will turn out. The early 2000s weren’t much different than right now. Smart phones weren’t there yet, but it wouldn’t take long, and some believe that technology is removing the major differences between decades. This century has been a scary one also, any such show has to put some focus on 9/11 and mass shootings.

The show was so grounded in its source material and characterizations that the only way to scuttle it would be to replace the linchpin charac…

Oh… right.

To be fair, Josh Meyers as Randy was a fine fit for the show, but with Charlie Brown gone, Peanuts weren’t funny no more.

Repeat after me:

“Oh! my eye!”

That 70’s Show was good, because its humor was truly character driven. I’ll catch it every once in a while, and still enjoy it.

My wife and I watched the entire series a couple of years ago. Before that, we had each seen a handful of episodes here and there.

I would argue that the problem with Season 8 wasn’t so much the loss of Eric, as the loss of Kelso. Yes, Eric was the anchor, but he was kind of a bland character. Kelso often did/said outrageous, laugh-out-loud funny things over the course of the show, and I definitely felt his absence for most of Season 8, more so than Eric’s.

Eric was the anchor, but he was kind of a bland character.

Actually, I really liked Eric (maybe I’m a bland character myself?). Topher Grace did a lot with that character, doing a great job with facial expressions that made his emotions seem very credible. And the relationship with Donna seemed very honest.

One more thing I didn’t mention was some of the fantastic guest actors, including Mitch Hedberg, Jim Gaffigan and Betty White.

…And four of the Bond Girls?

That show is a freakin’ time capsule.

The show never needed Eric, I didn’t miss him. Red doing his Dad bit worked just as well with all the other kids. At least they figured out a lame geek like Eric wasn’t going to be able to hang on to Donna. I find Mila Kunis character to be enchanting. She was only 14 years old when the show started, the producers asked her how old she was and she answered “I’m going to be 16”, and that turned out to be true eventually.


I think I stopped watching in the 5th or 6th season, but had watched from the beginning and definitely enjoyed the show a lot. Everyone on that show was talented and the writing was very good for a sitcom.

That is my favorite episode. I near about wet myself at Fez’s delivery of, “Let me guess. You left your jacket …somewhere.”

Related thread where this was discussed previously:

There already is one – Better Call Saul is set in the early 2000s. And you’re probably right, BCS doesn’t really feel like a period show for the most part, except for a few little details like when Jimmy and Kim go to Blockbuster to stock up on movies to watch while Kim was recovering from her car accident.

Lady Bird was also set in 2002-03, and that one felt a little more like a period film to me. As I recall Greta Gerwig said she purposely wanted her coming of age movie to be set before the era of social media.

One more thing I didn’t mention was some of the fantastic guest actors, including Mitch Hedberg, Jim Gaffigan and Betty White.

I was surprised to see Roger Daltrey as a music teacher.

I agree with the consensus, but with a little less patience. I think the first two seasons are great, the third good, the fourth okay and the rest a slow steady slide into mediocrity. Basically by the time they got out of High School it had started to wear out my goodwill.

But it was a surprisingly well-done sitcom for its day and if I’m channel surfing and a random early episode pops up I’ll sometimes stop to watch. I’m also in the pro-Topher Grace camp.

I think it helped that the actors were relatively close to the characters’ ages.

Something to look for: Early in the series, Jackie was wearing a (I think it was) 3/4 sleeve T-shirt with her initials across the front; the surname initial is in the middle and is larger than the other two – your first and middle names. Jackie’s were “J”, large “B” and “S”. Jackie Burkhart Susan(?) Sharon(?) They never said. Later, it was Beulah, which was much funnier but lead to Hyde being murdered. :laughing:

I think the contrast between W and Trump would be quite significant.