By Sara Nigro
“That ‘70s Show” centers around the lives of six teenagers, Eric Foreman (Topher Grace), Steven Hyde (Danny Masterson), Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon), Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) and Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis), who are living in Wisconsin in the 1970s. Although the show ran from 1998-2006 over the course of eight seasons, the plot takes place through the timeline of 1976-1979. The last episode of the show, which aired on May 18, 2006, takes place on the last day of the 1970s, Dec. 31, 1979, bringing about an appropriate ending, considering its title.
Similar to other comedies such as “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” “That ‘70s Show” exhibits lighthearted jokes among friends and family members while also exploring the difficulties of managing school, work and relationships. But where this show really defines itself as new and different from the “basic” media is its representation of a new time period.
Feminism is introduced in a different light compared to other shows that were aired in the ‘70s. Donna’s eccentric personality is often diminished by her male friends through their instinctive sexism, which was powerful in defining her as a strong, independent female. The other lead female character, Jackie Burkhart, could be described as her opposite. The two girls both internalize different core values and views on the world based on their upbringings and sense of morality, but as the second wave of feminism rises during this time period, they represent the roles of different women during this time quite effectively.
Although the show addresses some historically relevant issues, it’s not centered around the fact that the show takes place in the ‘70s. The characters listen to Led Zeppelin and wear bell bottoms, but the content isn’t a commentary on the way the world was decades ago. Rather, it’s focused on the relatable aspects of teenage life. The dysfunctional family dynamic between the Formans, the relationships formed in and out of the group and the typical struggles of growing up are all present throughout the seasons.
It turns out the recommendations I received were spot-on, because after watching, it has decidedly become one of my favorite shows. The relationship dynamic along with the relatable humor makes for an enjoyable watch for a wide range of audiences.
Although “That ‘70s Show” debuted over 20 years ago and is set nearly 30 years before then, it still resonates with people today. It is a binge-worthy series to invest your free time into, as well as a casual watch to calm your nerves after a stressful day at work. As a college student in the year 2020, I wasn’t alive for any of the 1900s, and I find it interesting learning not only about major historical events from the past but also the pop culture: the music, the films and the TV shows from before I was born.