That ‘90s Show: A shockingly bad spinoff

That 90s Show released Jan 19. TRLs Eleanor Kohen critiques its short comings.

Courtesy of Netflix

That 90s Show released Jan 19. TRLs Eleanor Kohen critiques its short comings.

“That ‘90s Show,” a spinoff series derived from the popular sitcom “That ‘70s Show,” aims to deliver a modern twist to an already successful franchise. The cast includes many original actors such as Kurtwood Smith (Red Forman), Debra Jo Rupp (Kitty Forman), Topher Grace (Eric Forman), Mila Kunis (Jackie Burkhart) and Ashton Kushnar (Michael Kelso). Many fans of “That ‘70s Show” were skeptical as to the intentions of the new spinoff. Did the Netflix producers want to create a quality television show that carries the same awkward humor as the original? Or where they simply trying to profit off the popularity of “That 70’s Show”? I attempted to answer this question by watching the series when it came out on Netflix on Jan. 19.

This isn’t the first time Netflix has attempted to create a secondary series to an already legendary TV show. “Fuller House” came to mind immediately, as it attempted to follow the “younger generation” and continue the storyline. But Netflix made a fatal mistake when writing “That 90’s Show…” It attempted to completely mirror and replicate each individual character from the past. Each iconic character: Eric, Jackie, Michael and Fez were brought back to life through a younger “90’s kid” to embody them. While each original cast member made appearances through the television series, the whole story was centered around the young kids and their eerily similar coming of age story. This mistake could have been avoided if Netflix had decided to write it more like a “Fuller House” and have each new character be an independent offset from the original parent. But instead the show felt like a cheap copy of the original. 

It wasn’t just the unoriginal storylines that made “That 90’s Show” a bust. It was also the incredibly cringey slang, the obvious attempts (and misses) of dad jokes, and allusions to the 90’s decade in any chance the writers could fit it in. Netflix shows (with exclusions to the renowned likes of “Stranger Things,” “Squid Games,” “Wednesday” etc.) tend to copy the same style of jokes that ultimately are not funny to anyone watching. Throughout the entire series, the writers tried to replicate the witty, slightly awkward humor present in “That ‘70s Show” to no avail. While the original did feature a laugh track, the laugh track in the reboot seemed outdated and forced. Despite its unpopularity, the laugh track was still needed to seamlessly transition the dialogue from joke to joke. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t unpleasant and uncomfortable to listen to. 

The writers also attempted to reference the time period as often as possible. The original, although set in the ‘70s, was filmed and created in the 1990s and early 2000s. Despite this, they weren’t making obvious innuendos to the “retro” trends popular in the 1970s. But in the reboot, every chance the writers got, they brought up the ‘90s. The writers brought the crew to a Blockbuster or introduced a character with a Walkman in hand. It’s as if the writers fear the audience has short term memory loss and need a constant reminder of the year. We get it the show is based in the ‘90s!

While I will give the producers credit for reuniting all of the original cast members, many fans of the show critique that they did not have a large enough role in the storyline. A lot of the hype surrounding the reboot was that big stars like Mila Kunis and Ashton Kushnar were returning to their humble beginnings to pay homage to their fans. Instead of being integral characters, they had mere cameos in the story and had virtually no impact on the plot. “That ‘90s Show” is a mediocre if not subpar reboot of an iconic sitcom. A combination of bad writing, cringey jokes, obvious allusions to the ‘90s, and missing elements from the original made it virtually unwatchable. 

Rating: 2/10