So many period pieces have come and gone, but That 70s Show still holds up as one of the most iconic. The sitcom, which ran from 1998 to 2006, was an in-depth exploration of life in 1970s America seen through a series of wholesome, hilarious vignettes.
Set in the fictional town of Point Place, Wisconsin, it follows the escapades of Eric, Donna, Hyde, Kelso, Jackie, and Fez, a group of teenagers who are out to have a good time while dealing with school, relationships, work, and of course, their parents.
Most of the action takes place at Eric’s house, and particularly his basement, where this friend group, each embodying a 70s archetype, congregate. The basement is where they hang out, play games, listen to music, have deep conversations, and maybe also sample some illegal substances…
The show owes a lot to its witty script, but what really made it special was the chemistry between its cast, full of actors that are now household names, like Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.
I’ve always loved the show because it manages to cleverly spin great storylines out of normal people, living in an unknown suburb, and leading conventional lives. Its clever nods to the culture of the time, from music and fashion to social mores, still makes it an irresistible watch.
The show’s unique mix of humour and nostalgia also betrays an authenticity that seems to have been lost in more recent TV, including That 90s Show, the Netflix-produced sequel/spinoff that picks up at the same setting 15 years later, which, despite using the same sets and premise, sadly doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessor.
At the same time, with news of main cast member Danny Masterson’s rape trial casting a dark shadow over the show, this may be a controversial review. At this point, continuing to be a fan of That 70s Show becomes an exercise in separating the art from the artist.