Can any sitcom spinoff be worse than ‘That ’80s Show’?
Ah, television spinoffs. In today’s age where companies are running to mine nostalgia, we’re seeing sequel series everywhere, from Friends: The Reunion to Jellystone! But before the concept was the big deal it is today, we got an indirect continuation of That ‘70s Show called That ‘80s Show.
While both were period dramas, both were quite different and unrelated from one another: they didn’t share any of the same characters, and That ‘70s Show featured teenagers growing up in its titular decade, whereas That ‘80s Show followed a group of 20-somethings.
Unfortunately, we can’t think of a worse spinoff series than That ‘80s Show. What made it so bad compared to its predecessor? Let’s take off our nostalgia goggles and dive in for a close examination.
The first thing we have to ask about That ‘80s Show is . . . why make it about a group of twenty-somethings in the first place? It’s not like That ‘70s Show had ended by this point. In fact, That ‘70s Show started running in 1998, and That ‘80s Show began airing in 2002! And even better, That ‘70s Show was still running by the time That ‘80s Show came out!
While we appreciate them trying to move onto different characters (and maybe they decided on a different age demographic in order to show people who were the same age as their audience?), it’s just a strange decision to look at a coming-of-age show about teens, and decide that the spinoff should be about adults. Sorry folks, that’s just a weird choice to make, and this premise ruins the entirety of That ‘80s Show.
Which brings us to our next point. . .
The cast of That ‘70s Show is full of assorted personalities, and we enjoy seeing them all bounce off of each other. On the other hand, the people in That ‘80s Show are a lot less pleasing to watch.
In That ‘70s Show, the main characters’ immaturity is understandable and even forgivable. That’s because they’re teenagers, and they don’t fully understand how the world works yet. But when that same attitude comes from That ‘80s Show’s leads, it comes off as much more childish & annoying, as they’re adults who should definitely know better.
This is a constant theme in That ‘80s Show, and it quickly makes the series annoying to watch. And that brings us to our final argument. . .
Jokes fall flat
Like all things, humor is subjective, and there are things we will find funny that others don’t, and vice versa. But we’re sure we can all agree that the jokes in That ‘80s Show just don’t work as well as the ones in That ‘70s Show.
The bad premise & characters are partially to blame for this – as stated in the previous point, seeing immature adults act out jokes does hit differently than seeing immature teenagers do the same. Because of that, the humor here isn’t as polished or interesting as in That ‘70s Show, which is a bit of a surprise because the two series had the same creative team.
It’s just a shame that they couldn’t make That ‘80s Show shine as bright as the previous series.
There are other things that made That ‘80s Show an inferior spinoff (the show’s inappropriate treatment of queer characters, specifically bisexuality, comes to mind), but that’s the jist of it.
And as it turns out, the series didn’t have any of the staying power that That ‘70s Show did, and That ‘80s Show ended after just five months on the air. Its predecessor, on the other hand, kept going until 2006.
What are your thoughts about this period piece? Do you agree with our opinions on That ‘80s Show? Share your thoughts and let us know!