That '70s Show
By Joly Herman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Edgy sitcom keeps the '70s alive for older teens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Overall the show promotes the importance of friends and family -- even if those friends and family members frequently bicker with each other or make mistakes. That said, the show also presents pot smoking as a normal activity and doesn't bat an eye at teen sex.
Positive Role Models
Other than exchange student Fez (who's pretty stereotyped), characters of color apparently don't populate the 1970s Wisconsin suburbs -- which may be accurate, but it's noticeable to the discerning eye. Female characters can be portrayed as objects or as vapid -- especially Kitty, the mom -- but they can also provide wisdom.
Violence & Scariness
Slapstick at most.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The characters think and talk about sex a lot. Not too much is shown, but much is alluded to. Donna and Eric eventually have a lot of sex, and Kelso in particular is a very active teenage male.
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Mr. Forman curses quite a bit, using words like "damn," "hell," and "son-of-a-bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
"Mysterious" smoke clouds appear in the basement, and it's clear that the kids are smoking pot. Dad Red drinks beer regularly.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this sitcom is iffy for kids under 15 because of the frequent innuendo and implied sexual activity and drug use. Most of the teens are sexually active, and smoking pot in the basement is a regular occurrence.
Where to Watch
Based on 30 parent reviews
definitely not for kids under 16
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quit sheelding your kids
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What's the Story?
THAT '70S SHOW is a comedy that depicts the lives of six teenagers in 70s-era Wisconsin: dim-bulb pretty boy Kelso (Ashton Kutcher), wisecracking Eric Forman (Topher Grace), straight-talking girl-next-door Donna (Laura Prepon), bossy flirt Jackie (Mila Kunis), eager foreign exchange student Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), and cynical Hyde (Danny Masterson). Eric's parents, Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) and Red (Kurtwood Smith) round out the cast.
Is It Any Good?
That '70s Show appeals to parents and teens for different reasons. For older audiences, it's nostalgia for simpler times that prompts an affinity for the show -- there's something comforting about kids congregating in the basement, content to just to "hang out." Kids, meanwhile, tune in for the attractive cast and relevant situations -- although they might find the '70s political references confusing and the fashions hilarious, they'll identify with the characters' struggles with dating and surviving high school, which are universal teen concerns.
What makes this series so successful is its cast, all of whom seem comfortable with their stereotyped roles. The actors benefit from the show's strong writing, which is sometimes subtly political, but more often light in content. The end result is an enjoyable trip back in time. Although the series has lots of sexual innuendo, it's done in a way that doesn't so much offend as allude to the free-love period of the 1970s. Whether or not this is appropriate viewing for teenagers is for parents to decide -- it might be a good idea to watch a few episodes first.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the similarities and differences between these '70s teens and modern teens. How are their lives like yours? What's changed in the last few decades?
Talk about dating expectations. How does it feel to be rejected by a girlfriend or boyfriend? Is it possible to be friends with someone after a break-up?
The lighthearted portrayal of pot smoking might also warrant a conversation with kids that includes some reminders about the serious effects of drug use.
- Premiere date: August 23, 1998
- Cast: Mila Kunis, Topher Grace
- Networks: Fox, Syndicated, TeenNick
- Genre: Comedy
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: March 12, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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