That '70s Show

That ’90s Show’s Nostalgic Setting Avoided A Fatal Sitcom Revival Mistake

That '90s Show could easily have fallen victim to a classic sitcom spinoff blunder but, luckily, That '70s Show's follow-up avoided this fate.

While That ‘90s Show could have fallen into a common sitcom revival trap, Netflix’s That ‘70s Show spinoff managed to avoid this particular pitfall. That ‘90s Show largely recaptured the atmosphere and tone of its predecessor That ‘70s Show. The hang-out sitcom vibe remained in place and That ‘90s Show replied on the same broad character comedy as its predecessor, effectively aping That ‘70s Show’s style. Admittedly, not everything about That ‘90s Show season 1 worked, and there is no denying that the young cast couldn’t immediately recapture the chemistry of That ‘70s Show’s legendary lineup.

However, there were also a few things That ‘90s Show did better than That ‘70s Show, and the spinoff now has a 22-episode second season to iron out the kinks in its formula. This would never have happened, however, if That ‘90s Show fell victim to one common mistake that many sitcom spinoffs make. In a misguided attempt to differentiate themselves from their predecessors, a lot of spinoffs arbitrarily change the setting of the new series. Perhaps the most infamous example of this trope occurred when Joey, the short-lived Friends spinoff, brought its title character to LA. Since Friends was a quintessentially New York show, this change flopped.

Red & Kitty’s House Was The Only Setting For That ’90s Show

Kitty and Red in That 70s Show

Given the time gap, That ‘90s Show could’ve been set anywhere. However, not only was the spinoff still set in Point Place, but That ‘90s Show was also largely set in Kitty and Red’s home from That ‘70s Show. In retrospect, nowhere else would have worked. Like Jackie and Kelso’s That ‘90s Show reunion, the return of this iconic setting was too good for the spinoff’s creators to pass up. However, as outlined above, sometimes showrunners can insist upon a change of location to give the new series a new feel. As such, it is fortunate that the creators of That ‘90s Show avoided this instinct.

The fact that Eric’s house was so central to the action of That ‘70s Show could have contributed to this choice. Not only were many episodes that left Point Place viewed as gimmicky outings by fans and critics alike, but That ’70s Show also needed Kitty and Red to work as a series. If the central friend group didn’t have representatives of an older generation to bounce off, That ‘70s Show would have been unable to comment on the internal battle of wills between kids and their parents. While later seasons of That ‘70s Show ruined Kitty and Red, That ‘90s Show‘s return to their home fixed this.

Why A Different House Wouldn’t Work In That ’90s Show

That '90s Show cast

That ‘90s Show retconned some unwise character changes from later seasons of That ‘70s Show by returning to Kitty and Red’s humble abode. Kitty’s alcoholism was gone, as was Red’s meaner streak, and the setting also allowed the characters of That ‘90s Show to recreate scenes from the earlier series. Returning to Kitty and Red’s house for one episode alone would likely have felt like nostalgia bait, but setting the entire series there ensured viewers got enough time to properly catch up with Kitty and Red. Furthermore, the summery setting of That ‘90s Show gave the That ‘70s Show’s reboot a believable excuse to set the series far from Eric and Donna’s home.

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