That ’70s Show already had a spin-off, which failed due to poor writing and a focus on decade trends rather than comedic characters. The Show is still a well-regarded and beloved sitcom, with Netflix finally taking notice and planning a sequel.
That ’90s Show is a planned sequel series set two decades later, with Red and Kitty Forman already confirmed to appear. Fans are obviously eager to see how the sequel will continue the story of the classic characters, but the Netflix streaming series isn’t the only one set after That ’70s Show.
That ’80s Show was a failed spin-off of That ’70s Show, failing to catch on due to poor writing and a focus on decade trends rather than humorous characters. It didn’t last long, and most main series fans have forgotten about it. With the franchise returning to the spotlight thanks to the upcoming revival, let’s take a look at why the first “sequel” to That ’70s Show was such a flop.
What Was That ’80s Show Called?
That ’80s Show, which aired from early to mid-2002, was a spinoff set a few years after That ’70s Show. It was created by the same minds behind that show, Mark Brazill, Terry Turner, and Linda Wallem. It was only loosely related to the main series, with protagonist Corey Howard (played by Glenn Howerton from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) being a cousin of Topher Grace’s Eric Forman from That ’70s Show.
Aside from that, there were no real parallels between the two shows. That ’80s Show followed a group of young adults in 1980s California as they struggled to make their way in the world while balancing their personal dreams and convictions with the realities of adulthood.
Corey, as previously stated, was a struggling musician, with much of the story centered on his relationship with punk rocker June Tuesday and their shifting perspectives on life. Despite the success of the previous series, which was still airing at the time, That ’80s Show was a flop. Its brief 13-episode run resulted in consistently lower ratings, with views halved or less by the final episode.
Why Didn’t That ’80s Show Replicate That ’70s Show’s Success?
Given how many people don’t believe such a show existed, That ’80s Show has undoubtedly been forgotten, especially in comparison to its far more popular predecessor. Part of this was due to the concept itself. Though 1980s nostalgia has now been thoroughly explored, the decade was still too recent in the early 2000s to capitalize on. As a result, the show’s wit felt like a long laugh at something that had been essentially a trend the previous metaphorical week.
The show’s focus on ’80s concepts and gags was also its undoing, as this was where the majority of the humor came from. While That ’70s Show reflected the decade after which it was named, it won audiences over with its funny characters and often actual deep stories and situations. This elevated the show beyond a nostalgic look at groovy shirts and lava lamps, making characters like Kelso, Eric, and Fez some of the most well-known in the history of sitcoms. Similarly, the parent characters of Kitty and Red were prominently featured and well-received, with some audiences liking them more than the teenagers.
That ’80s Show lacked all of that, with both its jokes and cast being poorly written. This was despite the fact that the show’s talent was the same as that of the main series. Hopefully, as Netflix develops That ’90s Show, it will pick up on what made That ’70s Show work and why That Show didn’t, refraining from relying too heavily on decade-based humor and instead focusing on complex characters in hilarious situations in the decade preceding the 2000s.
Was The ’80s Show related to The ’70s Show?
The links between That ’80s and That ’70s Show were unclear, which may have contributed to the 2002 spinoff’s lack of interest. That ’80s Show was a spinoff of That ’70s Show, which debuted on Fox in January 2002, but there were few connections between the two shows.
The spinoff failed to live up to the success of its parent show and was canceled four months later after only 13 episodes. Aside from their names, That ’80s Show and That ’70s Show didn’t seem to have much in common. However, a few connections between the two sitcoms were discovered, which became That ’80s Show’s only legacy.
Initially, Fox planned a more direct spinoff from That ’70s Show but instead produced a show set in another decade. That ’70s Show was also canceled, but not before becoming a beloved hit with a large audience. That ’80s Show stumbled from the start.
It also featured a teen ensemble that was consumed by the popular culture of the time, but the spinoff never captivated viewers the way That ’70s Show did. Things might have turned out differently if That ’80s Show had kept closer ties to its predecessor. Instead, it faded into sitcom obscurity, only to be heard from when freaks and geeks gather to discuss the strange connections between their favorite sitcoms and their failed spinoffs.