Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “That ’70s Show,” a period situation comedy that aired on Fox from 1998 to 2006.
What: Created by Bonnie and Terry Turner and Mark Brazill, the series focuses on the lives of a group of teenage friends living in the fictional suburban town of Point Place, Wisconsin, from May 17, 1976, to December 31, 1979.
That ’70s Show addresses social issues of the 1970s such as sexism, sexual attitudes, generational conflict, the economic hardships of the 1970s recession, mistrust of the American government by blue-collar workers, and teenage drug use, including underage drinking. The series also highlights developments in then-pop culture, including the television remote (“the clicker”), the video game Pong, MAD magazine, and Star Wars. The show has been compared to Happy Days, which was similarly set 20 years before the time in which it aired. The show also features guest-starring actors from 1970s TV shows, such as Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harper, and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show); Tom Poston and Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show); Pamela Sue Martin (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries); Tim Reid and Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati); Eve Plumb, Barry Williams, and Christopher Knight (The Brady Bunch); Tom Bosley and Marion Ross (Happy Days); Monty Hall (Let’s Make A Deal); Gavin MacLeod (The Love Boat and The Mary Tyler Moore Show); Don Knotts, Richard Kline, and Jenilee Harrison (Three’s Company); and Danny Bonaduce and Shirley Jones (The Partridge Family). Series cast member Tanya Roberts also starred in a popular show in the 1970s, Charlie’s Angels. The main teenage cast members are played by Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, and Wilmer Valderrama. The main adult cast members are Debra Jo Rupp, Kurtwood Smith, Don Stark, Tommy Chong, and Roberts.
When: The show aired for eight seasons from 1998 to 2006 on Fox.
Where: The show is set in the fictional suburban town of Point Place, Wisconsin.
Why: Listen to the podcast for the panelists’ individual stories on how they found That ’70s Show.
How – as in How Much Do We Love this Show?!
Admittedly, the idea to elect That ’70s Show as the next CPU! “Looking Back” candidate was entirely the Chief CP’s. Call it nostalgia, call it guilty pleasure, call it what you will – but I love watching and re-watching this show, and on a recent re-watch, I wondered if there were others who wouldn’t mind hanging out, down the street, and chatting in the Circle (sitting “around the water cooler” forms a circle, ok???) about the lovable, and consistently stoned, goofballs of Point Place.
Fortunately, a small but robust panel of CPU!’s finest – panelist extraordinaire Kristen and Futurama panel graduate Michael – were willing to convene around our (basement) water cooler to do the same old thing we did last week. Thus, in this current episode, we reminisce about the ’70s as perceived during the ’90s and discuss the trajectories of the then-teen stars who became cultural phenomena of varying degrees in their own rights. We talk about the subversive nostalgia that played as satire, despite its timeless and refreshingly loving look back at the days of polyester and of olive green and orange interior decor. We also offer our own appreciation for a sitcom that has managed to stand the test of time, despite its auspiciously stoner comedy foundations.
This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as we cover major plot points and comedic situations throughout That ’70s Show. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Next Wednesday, we’ll return to our mid-season check-ins once again by revisiting our Once Upon a Time panel around the water cooler, as we discuss Season 6A , focusing upon Regina and her Evil Queen other half, now completely independent of her body. In addition, our That ’70s Show podcast retrospective has inspired a host of new episodes, as we plan to follow some of the stars to new TV projects (we already cover Orange is the New Black, featuring Laura Prepon) as well as to look back at some of those TV shows producing timely guest stars for this particularly period piece. Stay tuned as we introduce these new episodes, panels, and series!
That ’70s Show is recommended to anyone who will not be offended by non-overt but certainly unsubtle drug humor and sexual innuendo or by the lovably quirky but ultimately laid back decade that provides the backdrop for the show itself. This program is also recommended to anyone who wants a reliably funny but ultimately superficial situation comedy to enjoy when the mood strikes. The panelists agree that this show holds up to multiple viewings due to its period setting and timeless coming of age shenanigans in ways that few other sitcoms do. Even though the brand of comedy touted here may not be for everyone, chances are good that anyone could find something to like about That ’70s Show, even if that someone did not particularly enjoy the decade being depicted. After all, for every roller disco, there is a Led Zeppelin concert; for every polyester leisure suit, there is a shiny new El Camino; and for every reference to hot rollers, there are twice as many references to the stash or the circle. That ’70s Show is what you make of it, in the end, but for us at CPU!, it remains a consistently hilarious sitcom worth every watch.