Why I LOVE That ‘70s Show


I did much of my growing up in the 70s and even though this show is set in America and I was brought up in rural Cheshire, I love to watch it for many reasons but one being all the retro stuff that brings back some great childhood memories…

The big collars, the bizarre hair, the TV shows, the gaudy furniture and wall coverings but best of all – apart from the fact that it’s exceptionally funny – is the music. The seventies were without question the best musical decade in my opinion and lots of classic rock crops up on That ‘70s Show.

In case you’ve never seen it, here’s what it’s all about…

That ’70s Show is an American sitcom that centres on the lives of a group of teenagers who live in the fictional town of Point Place, Wisconsin. It first aired in America on the FOX TV network in August 1998 and ran for eight seasons, concluding with the 200th episode – which was rather aptly called ‘That ’70s Finale’ – on May 18, 2006.

That ’70s Show also launched the subsequently very successful careers of some of its stars, such as Ashton Kutcher, Topher Grace, Danny Masterson and Mila Kunis, who, amongst other things, does the voice of Meg in Family Guy, which is another of my Why I LOVE articles.

The show was the brainchild of writing-producing duo Bonnie and Terry Turner and script writer Mark Brazill. It was initially going to be called Teenage Wasteland – in honour of The Who’s song Baba O’Riley – or The Kids Are Alright, Feelin’ Alright or Reeling In the Years, which was a Steely Dan song. However, That ‘70s Show was in my opinion the best of the bunch of possible titles because it pretty much sums up what it’s all about!

It rapidly became a favourite show in the States and was later exported over here where it airs on a number of channels. At pretty much any time of the day or night, there’s an episode of the show on somewhere, and if you channel hop long enough, you’ll find one.

eric forman that 70s showAs I mentioned, the show’s about the lives of several teenagers but the central character is Eric Forman who was played by Topher Grace.

Eric’s a puny teenager who’s a bit geeky but has a razor sharp wit which he might well have inherited from his dad, Red who’s played by Kurtwood Smith and who’s always threatening to put his foot in someone’s ass and often calls Eric ‘dumbass’.

Eric’s mother is Kitty, a typical Betty Crocker type ‘mom’ who’s off and on employed as a nurse. Debra Jo Rupp played the part of Kitty and if you recall, she later played Alice, the woman who married Phoebe’s brother Frank in Friends and for whom Phoebe acted as a surrogate.

Kitty’s forever baking, fussing over the kids and loves Eric more than her other child, a daughter named Laurie who’s basically a slut! Anyway, here’s a great clip of Kitty and Red berating the kids for smoking weed… but then Kitty herself gets high! Epic…

donna that 70s showEric’s on-off girlfriend throughout the show was Donna Pinciotti who was played by Laura Prepon.

Donna was also Eric’s next door neighbour whose mum and dad were the somewhat dim but amusing Bob and Midge. During the show’s final season, a character called Randy Pearson became Donna’s new love after Eric went off to Africa.

Then there’s Hyde – full name Steven Hyde – who was played by Danny hyde-that-70s-showMasterson.

Hyde is Eric’s best friend but through the years, they’ve had their ups and downs, including the fact that Hyde’s always fancied Donna, but there’s been nothing they couldn’t sort out in ‘The Circle’ which was basically where the gang all sat around a table, obviously smoking weed though we never see them actually ‘smoking’ per se; we just see them amid clouds of smoke as they get high and the camera pans in a circle as each character speaks directly to the camera.

Here’s an example of The Circle featuring Hyde…

I love that clip!

Anywho, an interesting little facteroo about Hyde, or more precisely, Danny Masterson, is that during the first season, at the end of the show’s theme tune song, he shouted “Hello Wisconsin” but thereafter, Robin Zander, the lead singer of Cheap Trick, took over shouting it… Quite why nobody seems to know, but there we are. Here’s a clip of the opening theme…

Anyway, Hyde lived with the Forman’s for a while when his alcoholic mother left him – his dad had left while Hyde was a baby – so Kitty, being unable to allow him to struggle on without the correct nutrition and clean clothes, took him in and loved him like her own. So did Red, but being a manly-man and a macho war veteran, he’d never admit to loving anyone!

Next up is the dimwitted Michael Kelso, played by Ashton Kutcher. Kelso’s kelso-and-jackie-that-70s-showdumb but he’s pretty – and he knows it – so women love him and he loves them, however for much of the show, he was dating the self-obsessed and equally vain Jackie Burkhart, portrayed by the aforementioned Mila Kunis.

All Michael wanted was ‘to do it’ but all Jackie cared about was fashion, money and her looks, but she couldn’t resist Michael’s prettiness. However, she did also have a fling with Hyde and briefly, Fez, who we’ll come to next…

fez that 70s showFez is ‘the foreign kid’ and we never get to hear where it is he’s actually from. He speaks with a sibilant accent that’s something like Spanish and/or Mexican and a lot of what he says is funnily simply because of how he says it.

He too is obsessed with ‘doing it’ but he has a bit of ‘thing’ for older women and has a strong bond with Kitty who often gives him advice and frequently gets him all turned on without knowing she is. Fez also loves candy and here’s a clip which demonstrates both things…

Other characters include the brilliant Tommy Chong – as in Cheech and Chong. Tommy played the doped out Leo Chingkwake who’s an aging hippie and owner of the Fotohut where Hyde worked for a while. Leo’s always spaced out and as a result, comes out with typical ‘stoner’ lines and says ‘hey man’ a really lot. His character is one of my favourites and he became a more frequently occurring character after Eric Forman and Michael Kelso were written out of the series after the seventh season. Here’s an example of what Leo’s always like… bless him

I love that dude!

Anyway, Eric and Kelso left the show because both actors – Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher – were offered lucrative movie roles which were to be filmed during the eighth season. Topher starred in Spiderman 3 while Ashton starred in The Guardian. Kelso though did appear in the first four episodes of the season eight but Ashton was listed in the credits as being a ‘special guest star’ and his character subsequently moved to Chicago.

Eric Forman’s central role was originally going to be replaced by his friend Charlie, played by Bret Harrison, but the character of Charlie had to be killed off after Harrison was offered a better job; namely, the lead role in the show ‘Reaper’. So, the writers brought in a new character, Randy Pearson who was played by Josh Meyers, as well as another new character, Samantha, played by Judy Tylor. Samantha appeared as Hyde’s wife for just nine episodes.

Both Eric and Kelso returned for the series finale which, a tad sad though this is, actually made me cry a little bit… but don’t tell anyone; that’s just between us. Here’s a clip from the moment Eric comes back…

The humour and wit in the show never declined throughout the entire eight seasons though I must admit, once Eric and Kelso left, it was never quite the same… that said, I still watch the show, over and over again, but I do prefer the earlier seasons.

I hope maybe this article has inspired you to watch an episode or two because if you’ve never seen it, you’re really missing out man, as Leo might say!

You can find lots more info about That ‘70s Show on their official website here but before you rush off over there, here are some ‘blooper’ clips from the show that are mostly every bit as funny as the show itself…

One of the best blooper bits is at 04.43 minutes into the clip because Debra – Kitty – carries on dancing along after the director shouted cut and while the rest of the cast are in bits laughing at her…

As I said earlier, you can see episodes of the show on several channels but Comedy Central is one of the channels that’s currently showing it, often in back to back episodes. The next one is on this Friday at 1:00pm… I’m there dude!

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.