‘That 90’s Show’: The Classic Spinoff’s Downfall?


Anjali Shenoy

GC students watch “That 90’s Show.’

Sean King, Contributing Writer

 “That 70’s Show”, the series that became known as the big break for popular actors like Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace and Mila Kunis, has recently boomed in popularity due to a new Netflix release. On Thursday, January, Jan. 19, Netflix released the first 10 episodes of “That 90’s Show”, the spinoff of the well-renowned parent show.

The new show stars the character Leia Forman (Callie Haverda), the daughter of Eric Forman (Topher Grace) and Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon). Leia — named after Carrie Fisher’s Star Wars character — decides that she wants to stay at her grandmother and grandfather’s house for the summer to have the fun experiences Eric and Donna had when they were kids. 

The spinoff follows the classic spinoff recipe: It was highly anticipated, advertised and overhyped, while the series itself left many fans disappointed and angry. 

The Wall Street Journal writer John Anderson highlighted a consensus popularized among viewers in his article “That ‘90’s Show’ Review: Hello Again, Wisconsin!” that the original, “That 70’s Show”, did a good job of encapsulating the ‘70’s during the time the show was in production — the late (90s) to early 2000s. The spinoff series seems more like those “Disney Channel tween comedies of the early 2000s”, said Anderson. GC students and alumni have mixed reviews about the show but mostly agree with Anderson’s assertion that the show is cringeworthy. 

“This show is f****** cringe,” said alumnus Riley Heneghan, a political science major. “It doesn’t even look like the (90’s).” Heneghan criticized the new cast and new basement scenes — the scenes when none of the “OG” cast were present. 

Giving praise to the original cast, he said, “Watching the scenes that involved the original cast’s cameos made me happy and nostalgic.”

Heneghan summarized that he misses the old cast and wishes the show followed more of an update on their lives rather than try to bring new stars to the beloved show. He explained that a show about the old gang taking a summer vacation together — without the children — would be much more nostalgic and entertaining. 

Not all fans of the parent show are as opposed to the storyline. However, some would agree that the new spinoff features some nice new faces to add to the Forman family. 

“I like how [Leia] has to handle the summer in a new environment where she makes friends and experiences a little of what her parents did growing up,” said sophomore Emily Ann Tipsword, an early childhood education major. “I also really liked how the writers included all of the original cast and their parts in the spinoff.”

Tipsword explained that she was overall pleased with the new spinoff, especially how much everyone’s favorite parents — Red and Kitty Forman — appeared and contributed to the show. 

Tipsword only had two subtle but relevant critiques.

“I didn’t like how ‘That ‘90s Show’ tried to be more modern than the (‘90s).” Tipsword said, “I also wish the original cast, minus Red and Kitty, played a bigger role in the show instead of just being guest stars on it.”

Although the spinoff is in the first season, many fans wonder if “That ‘90s Show” will suffer the same tragic downfall that the former spinoff, “That ‘80s Show” had. The earlier spinoff was canceled the same year as its first season debut. 

However, fans of the show can only be left to hope there is more to come. Who knows, “That ‘90s Show” could bring more original characters to the new plotline in a potential — unannounced — second season, bringing even more nostalgia than the show has so far.