WARNING: there are some That 70s Show spoilers in this post. If you have never watched it, be warned. Also, watch it. Where have you been?!
I am a re-watcher. I have five or six TV shows (and countless films) that I can watch over, and over, and over again, and still love. Those shows include That 70s Show (my all-time favorite), Friends, Scrubs, New Girl, Parks and Recreation, Community (only the first four seasons, because honestly), The Inbetweeners, and probably a few others. That said, the older I get, the more I start to notice the problems with some of these shows, particularly Friends and That 70s Show.
The biggest, most obvious issue with Friends is that it’s set in Greenwich Village in the late 90s, but the cast is 99.9% white people. I’m sorry, but this show makes “underrepresentation” an understatement. It’s NEW YORK. New York is one of the most diverse cities in the country, and the monochrome casting of this show is the most unrealistic thing about it. Not to mention, on the subject of unrealistic stuff, based on the protagonists’ career choices, there is no possible way that they would be able to live as comfortably as they do. A huge two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan? Money for last-minute trips to London and Vegas? Come on now.
I try really hard to not take issue with That 70s Show, because, well, it’s set in the 70s. If anything, I commend the writers for their realistic and timely use of sexism, homophobia, and racism, because that’s how it was during that time. That said, it’s still sexism and racism, and in 2017, it’s hard to remember that when Eric says awful things like, “I’m the man and the man’s the man and that’s just the way it is” when he says he HAS to do better than Donna on the SATs.
Donna is the only glimmer of hope on That 70s Show, taking a strong stance on feminism and equality in the first season. Even her admittedly airheaded mom, Midge, joins the cause in spite of her husband’s horrendously misogynistic mindset, including frequently calling feminism stupid. When Midge says she wants to start her own business, Bob even goes so far as to say, and I quote, “Midge, because I love you, I want you to have another baby and stop bugging me.” Gross, right?!
Donna, while claiming to be a dedicated feminist throughout the series, still did some hypocritical not-so-feminist things; the worst being STAYING HOME FROM COLLEGE TO BE WITH HER BOYFRIEND. In my opinion, as “romantic” as it was, it totally cancels out all of the brilliantly feminist things she’d said in the past. Not to mention, Eric ends up ditching her to go to Africa for a year anyway! And then he dumped her! While he was in Africa! She stayed home for nothing! I don’t care how much you love your boyfriend, I firmly believe that you cannot let other people have that big of an influence on your personal decisions that will greatly impact your life forever.
The next glaring issue with That 70s Show is Eric’s dad, Red. It is very clear from his first scene that he oozes hyper-masculinity. He’s a baby boomer, he fought in two wars, he is a tough dude. Nothing wrong with being a tough dude at all, but Red goes so far as to refuse to even tell his own son he loves him. He softens up throughout the series, probably because Eric and his friends wore him out because they were terrible, but Red is the epitome of a stereotypical hyper-masculine American man. He drinks a lot, bottles everything up, shows no emotion other than anger, and threatens to put his foot up the ass of every person he meets.
There are a ton of other things wrong with both of these shows, and probably all of the shows I mentioned, but this is a blog post and not a novel. Perhaps I will do a part two about That 70s Show in the future, mostly because I haven’t even touched on how insanely racist everyone gets when they find out Hyde’s dad is black. I also have yet to address how homophobic Red was when he found out his new neighbors were gay. You know, now that I’m writing this all down, I’m starting to wonder why I like this show so much. It’s a pretty terrible show.
I’m kidding. It’s an amazing show that I love very much. It’s just… let’s call it a period piece. That makes it a little better, right?