That ’90s Show (2023): Eight successful seasons, a double century of episodes, and a lifetime of memorable sitcom gold – not an easy task. The makers of That 70s Show (1998-2006) managed to create a compelling teen-centric sitcom, albeit with spoon-fed cues from the British remake Days Like These. The show is so popular that it is rebooted almost two decades later.
That 90s Show is available to stream on Netflix, and we are here with a complete recap of the entire season. We also discuss that confusing ending where Leia is confronted with an uncomfortable truth about her love life and our two bits on the season. Happy reading!
That ’90s Show (2023) Season 1, Recap:
We again veer into the Forman household, where Red’s stern and serious demeanor balances Kitty’s peppy energy and enthusiasm. The place is the same – Point Place, Wisconsin – but we have fast-forwarded to 1995.
The summer holidays are just starting, and the grandparents eagerly wait to receive Eric and Donna’s daughter, Leia. She will stay with them for a while and then go to her father’s favorite Space Camp for the rest of the holidays. Eric is an adjunct professor now, and Donna’s writing career has taken off.
Even though Eric is excited about going to Houston for the camp, Leia’s mood seems to be off. Kitty picks up on it, but Eric dismisses her fears. It turns out that grandma is right when Leia meets Gwen, the next-door neighbor Sherri’s daughter.
She is a rebellious teenager living life on her own terms. Leia shows her around the old room, and we meet Nate, Gwen’s interracial brother, who is an adorable goofball. Leia gets a nose ring on Gwen’s encouragement, which seems to worry Eric.
He seems to be losing his grip over the changing reality of his relationship with his daughter. She takes permission to go out for the 4th of July celebrations, and that is when she meets the rest of the gang. Nik is Nate’s girlfriend, who is clearly an alpha. Jay Kelso is the notoriously charming and handsome son of the old Kelso from the 70s show.
Ozzie is sassy, hair-splitting no, nonsense talker whose homosexuality does not define him. Nate recounts how he, Jay, and Nik got a free barrel of the bear into their laps and now will celebrate the holiday in its true spirit. Leia almost runs into trouble when Mama, the shopowner, catches her lie when she buys a tap for the barrel.
But she manages to slither out of that one well. They get drunk, and Leia has a gala time. She expresses her intention to stay for the summer to Eric when she comes back late. He gets assertive, even when Donna is supportive. She calmly talks to him about it and understands how he is feeling. But there will be a time, if not tomorrow when they will have to let their daughter be herself and make a life.
Eric consoles Leia in the basement and allows her to stay over for the summer. The first episode ends with cameos by Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, who reprise their old roles. Also, the group decides to hang out in the larger basement of Forman’s house and score a bag of weed from Eric’s old things.
In Free Leia, we continue from where we left off. The group is high as a kite and demands that Leia bring them Raisin Bran to eat. When she goes upstairs, she has a hallucination that Kitty and Red are monkeys from a video game, quite like the scene from Danny Boyle’s The Beach.
They go upstairs in that mild state, but Red shooed them away when they touched his things. Leia plans a movie night for them in the basement. We are formally introduced to Sherri, a divorced mother of two (Gwen and Nate), currently dating a stylish hairdresser.
Leia wants to rent Clerks, but someone has taken it for a long time. She notes the address, and we run into yet another old face; Leo. He is too high to talk normally, and getting the CD off him is easy. Red is perplexed by Sherri’s interference in their household, but Kitty calms him, saying she needs this.
The movie night goes horribly when they discover that Leo has taped over the CD with nonsensical drivel. They do not want Raisin Bran either, and Nate almost chokes on it. Gwen comforts Leia about her insecurities. She says the group is a bunch of misfits, and she should be her own best version. They watch Leia’s favorite movie, Free Willy, and enjoy the experience. It turns out that the hairdresser is Fez, another old face from the previous show.
In Lip Smackers, Sherri is worried about how to break up with Fez, and Kitty vows to help her. Leia worries that she has not had her first kiss yet, and Gwen and Ozzie take her to the mall. When Kitty reaches the mall, Fez’s charm turns her on his side. He is madly in love with Sherri, and Kitty acts contrary to her wishes and encourages Fez to express his love for Sherri. Red buys a massage chair as Leia struggles to break the ice.
She returns empty-handed, and Ozzie suggests she kiss Jay instead to get it over with. Red takes a handle on things and helps Sherri with Fez. The hairdresser is relieved to know that Sherri is an older woman with two kids and ends things early. Leia tries to make out with Jay, but he refuses her advances. He feels they can have something more meaningful and ditches his jock image for once. A confident Leia is unburdened and breaks her “mouth virginity” the next day at the mall.
In Rave, Leia waits for Jay to make a move and vice versa. Gwen and Nik give contrasting opinions to Leia and Jay, respectively, and they engage in a tactic of stalemate. Red and Kitty debate if they should be friends with the grandkids while Nate deals with Nik’s father’s pager. Her father is a doctor, and Nate grows into giving medical advice to calling doctors. Gwen, Leia, and Ozzie go to a Milwaukee rave, and Nik brings Nate and Jay. But Ozzie is left behind and caught by Red.
At the rave, Jay rejects Leia’s sincere attempts to talk about the feelings maturely, and they engage in a competition, only to be caught later by Red. The grandparents confront Leia and ground her for a week. Jay returns to apologize the next day, but Leia takes out the “let’s just be friends card” to gain power in the relationship.
In Step by Step, Ozzie wants to reveal his homosexuality and comes up with a number of “steps” to ease into it. His big plan is to teach Kitty how to use a computer and get closer to her to reveal his sexuality. Nate and Jay are fooled by an old lady professing to sell “a free hot tub.” Jay is mentally chaotic after Leia’s master move but finds a girlfriend in the old lady’s daughter. Ozzie and Leia discuss his plan with Kitty, and she decides to help him.
But Kitty misconstrues this as Leia’s attempt to indicate that she is about to lose her virginity. Donna comes rushing home, only to discover the truth about Ozzie. She has an adult talk with Leia and explains that she does not need to be afraid. Nik and Gwen are left alone. But their forced hanging out brings them closer and shows them that they are very much alike with similar interests.
Kitty hugs Ozzie and calms his nerves when he tells her about it. Leia is heartbroken when she discovers Jay has a girlfriend. In The Birthday Girl, Leia braves her heartbreak and celebrates. Kitty is stressed out about the preparations, just like in the old times. She invites all of them to the party and then regrets it. Bob, Donna’s father, also visits for the birthday, stressing out Red. Apparently, the two do not get along that nicely. Leia lives out an imaginary reality set in the world of “Brenda,” a show where the girl cannot express her love for the boy, and he gets away.
Gwen asks her not to obsess over Jay, but Leia can’t help it. Red wants to gift Leia a repair kit but is shot down by Kitty. Leia finally feels stupid about her behavior and sees Bob singing a song for her. Red consoles Leia about her unfortunate situation. He gifts her a car, and she is elated. The party goes great, and Leia kisses Jay in a rush. He reciprocates her feelings and breaks up with Serena. They go out for a drive and get flagged by the police!
In Boyfriend Day One, Jay asks Kitty and Red for a chance to prove themselves after they learn about the arrest. Red has been banned from the house for a while, but when they are out, Jay comes over. Nik is taking tuition for the SATs, and Nate is worried. To win over Red, Leia plans to take Sherri’s car and pick up Kitty from her dentist’s appointment. Ozzie obsesses over Trevor, the tutor, and Nate introduces himself, worried about Nik. He is very dreamy, and Nate is intimidated.
Leia’s plan goes wrong when Kitty accidentally gets a tattoo. Red comes back pissed, and no one dares tell him the truth. Red finds out and kicks Jay out of the house. Kitty talks to Red about Leia and Jay, and he agrees to give them a chance. Nik comforts Nate about the relationship and promises not to leave him behind but to make a future for herself. Red also agrees to teach Sherri how to ride a bike, showing their growing closeness.
In Summer Storm, we discover that Red was hurt from the previous episode’s biking incident. Leia gradually eases into the physical aspect of her relationship, prompted by Nik. They are all stuck inside the house due to the hideous rain. The episode’s mission is to find the stash of drugs that Kitty mistakenly took upstairs. The challenge is that all boxes are identical and split into groups to make it happen. Nik continues advising Leia, but she keeps getting confused. Jay finds the stash in the garage but keeps it in Red’s old jacket, which he then takes from Jay.
Kitty is actually stalling Red as he completes all the little jobs around Sheri’s house. Jay and Leia talk it out, and Ozzie retrieves the stash. The group once again gets high in the basement and enjoys their high.
That ’90s Show (2023) Season 1, Ending, Explained:
What uncomfortable truth does Leia learn about her love life?
The group comes to terms with the summer ending in the final two episodes. While most of them are bummed about going back to school, Nik is a repulsive exception. Jay promises to take Leia to his special place in the woods as a last hurrah. Leia forgets that she has to go with Gwen to a country club where they will defy the power. Now she is stuck! Kitty is playing with the idea of going back to work. Nik helps her with the resume.
Nate works himself out pretty badly with Jay, doing all the summer’s work in a single day. Gwen is angry with Leia and not talking to her. But Nate gives her wisdom about Gwen actually being angry because she will miss Leia. They talk it over and make up. Red encourages Kitty for the interview, and she nails it. On Leia’s final night, she learns Jay is breaking up with her when Nate accidentally says it out loud.
Everyone except Leia thinks it is a good idea. She is not taking it well. Sherri has gotten back to Fez. Kitty joins the rest of the group to comfort Leia about her summer and convince her to return. Donna comes to pick her up and learns some new things about her daughter. The mother and daughter have a tender talk about relationships.
She advises her to talk to Gwen and work through it. Fenton, an old nemesis of Fez, is Sherri’s landlord and comes to deal with a fallen tree. But it turns out worse for Sherri as her rent increases, and he does not deal with the tree.
Nate secretly confesses to Leia that he agrees with her about being a hopeless romantic and feels the same way about Nik. They almost kiss in the rhythm, and Gwen is shocked. Fez realizes he must end the grudge against Fenton to be with Sherri. Gwen and Leia laugh about how the latter had become an “agent of chaos” instead of being a dork when she started out. Leia’s spirits are lifted, and Gwen says she does not owe anything to Jay.
Kitty and Red bid farewell to Leia as her friends arrive to say goodbye. Nate and Leia realize their attempted kiss was perhaps not “nothing.” It meant something more that scared them. Jay asks for another chance to make it up to Leia, but she says she is confused. They kiss, and Gwen saves the day for them. Leia drives off with Donna thinking about the memories she made in the summer and what lies ahead for her in the future.
That ’90s Show (2023) Season 1, Review:
Perhaps by reawakening the laugh track, multi-camera setup, awkward blocking, and predictable joke punchline to and fro, the makers went far too back. Under the guise of nostalgia, the frailties of a dead convention in the sitcom genre were refamiliarized and did not feel warm or joyous as expected.
Seeing these elements back in action is a constant reminder of why we moved away from them in the first place. That 90s Show is strictly for the fans of That 70s Show, who can take solace in the fact that “some good things never end” – for now but will most probably end as Netflix might not order a second season.