Netflix's That '70s Show spin-off called "sweet" and "nostalgic" in lukewarm first reviews

That '90s Show
(Image credit: Netflix)

That '90s Show is the latest in a long line of Netflix revivals, which includes titles like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, Fuller House, Tales of the City, and One Day at a Time. Set 20 years after That '70s Show, it shifts focus to Eric and Donna's teen daughter, as she visits her grandparents, Kitty and Red, in Wisconsin – and critics seem to be kind of enjoying the nostalgia trip.

Most reviews, which emerged online today (January 19) to coincide with the entire first season landing on the platform, praise the show's commitment to imitating its popular predecessor – Leia Forman is a copy of her father (Topher Grace), while the rest of the youngsters echo original characters Jackie (Mila Kunis), Michael (Ashton Kutcher), Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), and Donna (Laura Prepon). Though the flip side of that, they admit, is that it doesn't offer up anything particularly exciting. It's confusing then, too, to know who the series is actually for; those who followed the Point Place kids basement antics back in late '90s or new audiences?

"That '90s Show is cute and worth checking out," ComicBook.com's Jamie Jirak (opens in new tab) states matter-of-factly, while We Got It Covered's Stacey Ritzen (opens in new tab) argues: "That '70s Show was a success because of those complicated, sniping relationships between characters — and without that, even the tried and true circle sessions (after the gang discovers their older counterparts nearly two-decades-old stash) feels empty."

"Whether it keeps going for as long or successfully as That '70s Show, of course, is anyone's guess. Fans of the original may find enough here to re-pique their interest," claims The Guardian's Lucy Mangan (opens in new tab). "Viewers for whom the 90s are our 70s – well, their minds are impenetrable to me. I suppose it might be able to tear them away from The TikToks, The Snapchatter, and The Google. Possibly it will be a useful resource for history majors."

"The characters individually are comical – especially Ozzie, whose sardonic one-liners were amusing – but as a group, they lack the chemistry to believe in their relationship drama," writes IGN's Laura Sirikul (opens in new tab). "Even the season finale, which ended on an emotional cliffhanger, felt flat and unearned."

"There will certainly be giggles. But there's no longer any wink necessary between the show and its audience. There are also considerably coarser references to sex and basic biology now, which seem to arrive at moments when a writer has run out of wit," pens Wall Street Journal's John Anderson (opens in new tab).

One thing's for certain, though, everyone is still loving any time spent with Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith as Eric's overbearing mother Kitty and not-so-cantankerous father Red, respectively.

"Red and Kitty Forman are somehow even more fleshed out than they were on That ‘70s Show. With multiple decades separating their appearance in the two shows, the writers have keenly evolved these parents into more modern versions of themselves," Den of Geek's Shawn Laib (opens in new tab) says. "Grandparenting looks good on Red, who has softened significantly since his days of incessantly desiring to shove his foot up everyone's ass."

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That '90s Show is available to stream now. If revivals aren't really your thing, check out our list of the best Netflix shows for some viewing inspiration.

Amy West

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things TV and film across our Total Film and SFX sections. Elsewhere, my words have been published by the likes of Digital Spy, SciFiNow, PinkNews, FANDOM, Radio Times, and Total Film magazine.