A lot has changed over at Red and Kitty Forman’s house, which remains the de-facto hangout for both the original characters from That ’70s Show, as well as a new cast of (for now) relatively unknown teens.
The premiere episode kicks off on the Fourth of July weekend of 1995 and the Formans, Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and Red (Kurtwood Smith), are preparing to welcome their son Eric (Topher Grace), daughter-in-law Donna (Laura Prepon), and granddaughter Leia (Callie Haverda) for a long weekend celebration.
That’s right — Eric is still a huge Star Wars fan and has named his daughter after one of the franchise’s main characters. He’s even managed to turn his fandom into a career and we learn that he’s an adjunct professor in charge of teaching a class called “The Religion of Star Wars.” (To dream.) We also learn that Donna is now a published author.
Eric and Leia are supposed to leave for a two-week father/daughter space camp after their weekend with the Formans, but that plan quickly dissolves when Leia — a self-professed nerd — meets some of the local kids and decides she wants to spend the summer with her grandparents and make some friends.
One of those friends, audiences soon learn, is none other than Jay Kelso, the son of original characters Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) and Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis). The real-life couple appears for a couple of minutes at the end of the pilot episode, revealing that they’re going to get “remarried” for the second time.
Fans of the first series will remember that Jackie ended up with Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), so it comes as a bit of a surprise to find Kelso and Jackie back together. In the second episode, Fez reveals to Kitty that 15 years before, he and Jackie were vacationing at a resort in Jamaica when he caught her talking to Kelso on the phone. Jackie left the resort to go back and be with Kelso, but Fez remained until the resort kicked him out “for talking too much in the hot tub.”
But don’t worry too much about Fez; he owns a successful line of hair salons called “Chez Fez,” still loves Tootsie Rolls, and is pursuing a (somewhat reluctant) love interest.
Aside from the characters, the biggest shakeup viewers see are upgrades to the Formans’ home. Kitty has ditched the owl décor in her kitchen (save for two small owls on a shelf), opting for a new ’90s design that’s heavy on pale yellow, flowers and roosters.
Red and Kitty’s living room has also gotten an upgrade with some very ’90s pink plaid sofas and ruffled, floral throw pillows, and we see the former show’s mid-century couch and chair are now relegated to the Forman’s famous basement hangout.
According to Netflix, the sets were painstakingly rebuilt and some of the original cast brought back set items from That ’70s Show to add continuity. Kutcher and Kunis brought back a trunk, stool, and the multicoloured round pillow in the basement set. Rupp supplied the basement coffee table’s glass grapes.
The kitchen also still holds Kitty’s many Pyrex dishes and Tupperware containers she collected throughout the ’70s and ’80s, which is not surprising because the colourful cookware of that era continues to be coveted in today’s kitchens.
And, next door, we get to see the ’90s treatment given to Donna Pinciotti’s old bedroom. A new family lives in the home now, and daughter Gwen (played by Ashley Aufderheide) has put down purple shag carpet, owns several Caboodles makeup cases (lucky!) and has plastered her walls with “riot grrrl” band posters.
Without giving away too much of the first season of That ’90s Show, it appears as much as things change, things also stay the same. The original characters carry forward many of their quirky characteristics — Red is still a grump, Kitty maintains her wide-eye innocence and funny giggle, Kelso is still a lovable idiot and Fez is still leaning into his slightly problematic-but-well-intentioned ways.
And, of course, the infamous weed-smoking circle remains a big plot point in the new series, as are extracurricular field trips to drink at the Point Place water tower.
Fans can have fun picking out all the Easter eggs left behind from That ’70s Show, while also revelling in all the series’ references to the ’90s. It’s groovy and it’s totally rad and it’s a fun trip down more than one memory lane.
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