That '70s Show

Common Sense Media says

Edgy sitcom keeps the '70s alive for older teens.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Slapstick at most.

Sex

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.

Language

Mr. Forman curses quite a bit, using words like "damn," "hell," and "son-of-a-bitch."

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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.

TV details

Cast:Mila Kunis, Topher Grace
Networks:Fox, Syndicated, TeenNick
Genre:Comedy
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

This review of That '70s Show was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Written byAnonymous December 21, 2010
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

Really bad at times, but they have good intentions

Here is my point of view about this show. All thought it may be very funny, there are quite a lot of situations that are bad in this TV show. For example Hyde marries a show girl, all of the group have lost there virginity by the end of the show, in one episode they try to throw a party to celebrate Hyde's marriage and pay show girls to come over. Red says fowl words a few times an episode. In one episode they paint a pot plant on the water tower. They laugh when each other get hurt. There is teen drinking. This is a show for 14+ because they can relate.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written byThreeDaysGracesGirl October 2, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
Oh... my... God... Is this site RAN by overprotective parents?! I swear to God it is. I watch this show every single day and I can't get enough of it. It's HILARIOUS. Toughen up, open your eyes to the real world. Are you seriously trying to shun us from what's out there? Get used to it, you really need to. The whole 15+ thing makes me want to scream with rage. That's ridiculous.
Teen, 13 years old Written bycsd313 January 13, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Great show to watch... if your kids are mature!

This has been my favorite show since I was 11. I was mature at 11, too. I knew what sex was, as well as drugs, and that they are both bad for teenagers and children (and that drugs were bad no matter what). If you have mature kids, this show will be fine for them.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent Written byTyWill39 November 28, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Very funny show, but the casual use of marijuana is troubling

The show is very funny, but I can't help thinking it should not be watched by younger viewers. Two weeks ago I was laughing along with my 13 year old niece as we talked about some of the funnier episodes. She knew what they were doing in the "Circle Scenes". Yesterday she was implicated in a pot smoking incident at school. I can't help but think the normalized portrayal of the pot smoking factored in to her decision to experiment at such a young age.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools