I was a huge fan of That 70’s Show when it was out, and I’ve rewatched it a few times already. I was excited when That 90’s Show was announced because I thought we were getting a proper reboot. I spent a lot of effort avoiding all the news and rewatching the original series because I didn’t want this review to be affected by nostalgia. Unfortunately, this series makes it impossible to separate nostalgia from my critique because it is a carbon copy of the original. I don’t know who this series was made for, but it wasn’t for me.
The series is about Eric and Dona’s daughter, Leia, and her summer in Point Place, Wisconsin. Leia is an awkward nerd who on her latest visit to Wisconsin, has made her first group of friends. The series focuses on the adventures she has that summer.
The adventures Leia has are pretty much the same ones they had in the original, only slightly modernized to fit the 90’s aesthetic. You get the same story beats, jokes, and even characters but with a lot less of the charm. This series might have been better if I hadn’t watched the original.
I foolishly expected this to be a continuation of the narrative we got in That 70’s Show. I was expecting an adult gang that has grown from their experiences and has to deal with a more modern canvas of issues. The original cast does appear, but only for short cameos where they exist as jokes for a quick laugh. They have learned nothing and added nothing to the story.
The cast is great, and they give a fantastic performance, but the writing holds them back. You get the same group of characters, story beats, and even jokes that have only been slightly adapted to fight the 90s aesthetic. I would have preferred this to be its own show that didn’t have to constantly rely on the nostalgia of the original for it to be entertaining.
My biggest issue with this series is how overbearing the live audience tracks are. The constant laughter and reactions get old and distracting instantly. There are scenes where the audience laughs after every single line of dialogue. I get that it was a callback to the original series, but it just highlights how painfully unfunny this series can be.
That said, this series isn’t terrible. When it tried to do its own thing, it earned its laughs. There are even some nice character moments. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of these moments to save this series for me. More often than not, I found myself bored by the characters, story lines, and jokes.
If you are a fan of the original series, I don’t think it’s worth it. It is okay, but it is trapped repeating the same thing in a lesser package. If you haven’t seen the original series, there are funnier sitcoms worth more of your time. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it, but it is on Netflix if you need it.
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Image by By Netflix – IMP Awards, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72787874