Leia and Nate’s romantic twist in That ‘90s Show’s finale revives a notable storyline for Hyde and Donna that was dropped early on in That ‘70s Show. Throughout the majority of That ‘90s Show season 1, Leia’s romantic interest was Jay Kelso. However, he decided to break up with her before she left for Chicago due to his reservations about a long-distance relationship. This inadvertently led Leia to realize her romantic feelings for Gwen’s brother Nate, who was already dating Nikki. At the end of That ‘90s Show season 1, Leia and Nate are inches away from kissing until Gwen walks in, with a final twist revealing that Jay wants to try a long-distance relationship with Leia.
Leia Forman has primarily taken on the role of her father Eric in That ‘90s Show, but her love triangle with Nate and Jay is repeating a notable situation of her mother Donna from That ‘70s Show season 1. Donna started and ended That ‘70s Show with Eric as her love interest, yet he wasn’t the only main character who was romantically interested in her, as Hyde was originally in love with Donna as well. Though Leia’s dynamic with Nate and Jay in That ‘90s Show is much more complicated, the spinoff is fulfilling the forgotten romantic subplot from That ‘70s Show season 1 involving Donna, Eric, and Hyde.
Leia, Nate & Jay Repeat That ’70s Show’s Forgotten Love Triangle
That ‘70s Show season 1 wrote Hyde as having feelings for Donna, which caused plenty of issues for her budding relationship with Eric. Even as far as That ‘70s Show season 1’s Valentine’s Day episode, Hyde was trying to make moves on Donna, though she was only interested in Eric. Donna’s love triangle with best friends Eric and Hyde thus mirrors the new romantic twist with Leia and That ‘90s Show’s best friends Jay and Nate. That ‘70s Show would later have another, even more dramatic love triangle between Jackie, Kelso, and Hyde, but Leia, Jay, and Nate’s dynamic is more comparable to that of Leia’s parents.
While Hyde was more open about his feelings for Donna, That ‘90s Show’s Nate is very different because he must hide his true emotions from Jay and Nikki. Additionally, Nate only realized his feelings for Leia in That ‘90s Show season 1’s finale, so there wasn’t much time to discuss the future before Leia left with Donna for Chicago. Ahead of That ‘90s Show season 2, Leia is dating Jay and Nate is dating Nikki, which sets up far more drama for the teens in the summer of 1996.
Why That ’70s Show Cut The Original Donna, Eric & Hyde Love Triangle
Hyde’s feelings for Donna were generally phased out after she officially began dating Eric in That ‘70s Show season 1’s episode “First Date.” Following this episode, Hyde maintained a close connection to Donna through their ability to relate on parental hardships, but he backed off from any romantic pursuit and respected her relationship with Eric. Instead, That ‘70s Show season 1 chose to focus on Hyde’s conflicts with his parents and his unofficial entrance into the Forman family. Had he and Eric still been battling over Donna, Hyde moving in with the Formans would have been far more complicated, so That ‘70s Show smartly dropped the love triangle.
That ‘70s Show season 1 also already had a turbulent romance between Jackie and Kelso, so it would have been too much of a cliché to have Eric and Donna’s relationship constantly threatened by another main character as well. Additionally, That ‘70s Show’s decision to have Hyde move on from Donna allowed the sitcom to set up his future romance with Jackie early on, as Hyde ended up taking Jackie to the prom after her breakup with Kelso. Leia’s parents Eric and Donna rightly provided That ‘70s Show season 1 with a stable romance to root for, so had Hyde continued trying to get in the middle of it, his character would have become less sympathetic.
That ‘90s Show Makes Leia’s Love Triangle Far More Complicated
Leia’s dynamic with Nate and Jay in That ‘90s Show is much more complex than Donna’s love triangle with Eric and Hyde in That ‘70s Show. The biggest difference is that Leia actually does have feelings for Nate, whereas Donna wasn’t interested in Hyde romantically. As such, there actually is the potential for Leia to break up with Jay for Nate after That ’90s Show season 1’s ending, whereas That ‘70s Show season 1 made it clear that Donna would choose Eric over Hyde. For this reason, it’s not surprising that the original sitcom cut the love triangle in favor of more unifying character development.
That ‘90s Show’s love triangle is also made more complicated by Nate dating Nikki. In That ‘70s Show, Hyde was single, so his feelings for Donna weren’t jeopardizing his relationship or harming another character. Nate having feelings for Leia and nearly kissing her betrays his relationship Nikki, who is still unaware of That ‘90s Show season 1’s romantic twist. If Nate and Leia decide to act on their feelings in season 2, then more people will get hurt and That ’90s Show‘s teenage character dynamic will significantly change.