By, Maggie Peknic
Staff “That 70s Show” Specialist
“Hangin’ out…down the street…the same old thing…. we did last week. Not a thing to do, but talk to you! We’re all alright! We’re all alright! Hello, Wisconsin!”
Besides the, “Hello, Wisconsin,” part (unless you are actually from Wisconsin), the “That 70s Show” theme song embodies quarantine. Although some restaurants and museums have started to open up, there are still many limits on what one can do. Gone are the days where one could go to Pugsley’s with a large group of friends after a Friday night out. Sure, you can still go to Pugsley’s, just make sure that your group doesn’t exceed ten people and that everyone in your group has masks on. It seems as if there’s almost, “not a thing to do, but talk to you.” Basically, we’re all just doing alright.
It’s for these reasons that my brother and I binged “That 70s Show” during quarantine. A show about just a group of six kids hanging out in Eric Forman’s basement every week made us feel like we weren’t alone with nothing to do during quarantine. Yes, this show takes place in the 70s and not during the pandemic, but its themes relate so much to current events. It shows how these six kids, with nothing to do in Wisconsin, created strong bonds and went on numerous adventures by just “hangin’ out.” It gave us hope that even with concerts and sporting events canceled, we could still have an amazing time with our friends.
But, alas, as if 2020 couldn’t get any worse, Netflix removed “That 70s Show” from its streaming service. When I first heard this news, I was beyond devasted. This show is by far one of my favorites, so as a way to commemorate its passing, my friends and I did what anyone else would do: We went onto Buzzfeed and found a list of the show’s best circle episodes and watched it until the clock struck midnight on September 7, at which Cinderella’s carriage turned back into a pumpkin, and “That 70s Show” was taken off of Netflix. A few tears were shed as we clicked “next episode,” only to instead view an error message saying that the show was not on Netflix.
How will the next generation experience (in my opinion) the best decade? This show had such a cultural impact. For example, it was almost a ritual to watch the whole show, seasons 1-7 (season 8 doesn’t exist), before graduating from high school. This show, along with the iconic movie “Guardians of the Galaxy,” helped introduce many to various iconic 70s rock bands, pictured on many of Hyde’s signature band t-shirts. If it weren’t for Hyde, I probably wouldn’t have listened to Led Zeppelin. The show not only shared the music, but also the fashion of the 70s, seen in Jackie’s amazing fashion statements and Donna’s signature hair bandana, which has now made a comeback in the fashion scene.
You can imagine my horror when I found out that my roommate had never seen the show, considering how impactful this show is! I immediately made her watch the first episode. She loved it, mainly because all the characters connected without phones. While phones and social media helped keep us in touch during quarantine, they do tend to socially-distance us in certain ways. The show reminds us that living in the moment is something that cannot be taken for granted, an important lesson emphasized even further by COVID-19.
However, there are some deeply ingrained problems within the show. Numerous plot-holes exist, most notably the fact that Donna has two sisters, one even appearing in an episode in season one, that are never mentioned again, making it seem as if Donna was always an only child. In addition to this, there are still many more serious issues with the characters of Fez, Donna and Jackie. Fez is basically a walking racist punchline, while Donna and Jackie are constantly objectified. Just take a look at Donna’s radio gig, where she is called “Hot Donna,” a nickname that values her looks more than her actual DJ skills. The show also makes fun of Eric, the main character, for his lack of manliness, which promotes toxic masculinity.
For these reasons, it makes sense why Netflix would decide to discontinue streaming “That 70s Show.” A good amount of its jokes aged poorly and are offensive. While nothing can be done to change the show’s script now, it’s important that we look at these jokes and learn from them. While there’s no justification for how the show handled these “jokes,” I will still miss the show for its nostalgia of the 70s and its take on just being a plain old teenager.