Why That '80s Show Failed To Capture That '70s Show's Magic

That '80s Show was something of a spinoff to That '70s Show but here's why the show didn't connect with viewers despite copying the same formula.

that 80s show poster

Here's why That '80 Show failed to capture the same magic as That '70s Show. That '70s Show debuted in 1998 and due to a combination of a talented young cast and a unique setting, it became a major hit. Several of the cast would go on to stardom following the series too, including Topher Grace (BlacKkKlansman), Ashton Kutcher, Laura Prepon, and Mila Kunis.

That '70s Show came to an end with season 8 in 2006. By that stage, Grace and Kutcher had already departed the cast, and a new character called Randy (Josh Meyers) was created as a love interest for Prepon's Donna. The showrunners considered Meyers as a potential replacement for Grace as Eric, but decided recasting the part would be a bad move. That '70s Show's humor could be hit and miss, but it still has a fanbase to this day. It also received a short-lived British remake in the form of Days Like These in 1999, which was quickly canceled.

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While That '80s Show isn't technically a spinoff of That '70s Show, they're closely linked. That '80s Show takes the formula of its predecessor and was created by the same showrunners. It wallows in the nostalgia of the decade too, from the fashion through to the music. The show starred Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) as Corey, a musician working at a record store, and the story details his relationships with his wacky co-workers, ex-girlfriend, and family.

That '80s Show

Sadly, a major problem with That '80s Show is that while it copied the template of That '70s Show, it lacked the heart. The show relies almost solely on references and nostalgia, and the characters aren't nearly as likable. Even in the weakest episodes of That '70s Show it could rely on the cast chemistry for humor, but this warmth is utterly lacking in That '80s Show. The laugh track also works far too hard, layering thick laughter over decidedly mediocre gags - which only serves to highlight how underwhelming they are.

Oddly, That '80s Show opted not to have any overt references to its prequel series. They don't share any characters or storylines, and while some sources claim Brittany Daniel's Sophia is the cousin of Topher Grace's Eric, this isn't correct. While Daniel played Eric's cousin during a season 4 episode of That 70's Show, her character was called Penny, not Sophia. That '80s Show was swiftly canceled after thirteen episodes and is considered one of the weakest spinoffs of the 2000s. It does serve as a reminder of how far Glenn Howerton has come as a comic performer, but that's the show's only legacy.

Next: How That '70s Show Finale Ended The Series (& Decade) In Style

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