One of the most underrated sitcoms of all time, That ’70s Show was the Happy Days of the late nineties, despite being set in the 1970s… Yep, unconventional, That ’70s Show centered on the lives of a group of teenagers during a decade which brought a number of social changes. Addressing issues such as sexism, drugs, the economic recession and the entertainment industry, adult and otherwise, That ’70s Show was also extremely funny as well as equally poignant.
Famed for featuring stars who were also well known actors during the actual seventies, celebrities such as Mary Tyler Moore, Betty White, and Shirley Jones made regular appearances, adding that extra special juice to such an original idea. However, it was the main characters themselves that really stole the show, with Topher Grace, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher and Laura Prepon all owing their success to that of the show itself.
Set midway through the decade, producers wanted the show to already have that feeling of change, with politics and ideologies already taking place. With the series finale ending at the beginning of 1980 on New Year’s Eve, the show ended on a high, earning a number of awards throughout its eight-season run. So, to celebrate its astounding success and for those who loved the show’s uniqueness, here are 15 things you didn’t catch on That ’70s Show. ENJOY!
15. ‘Fez’ Stands For Foreign Exchange Student
Played by one time playboy Wilmer Valderrama, Fez was one of the four male leads on the show. Written as the foreign exchange student from an unknown country, Fez’s real name is also a secret. Deemed unpronounceable by his fellow friends, Fez was used instead, in other words, foreign exchange student. Known for his strange and hilarious accent, Valderrama stated that he made up the accent so that no one would be able to identify which country his character had come from. Often heard giving strange hints with regards to his citizenship, Fez once claimed that he would go back home to his country Brazil…and a catch from there. Going on to star in a number of movies, Valderrama most recently voiced the role of Prince Charming in the upcoming animated movie, Charming.
14. Mila Kunis Had To Sit Down A Lot
Not the tallest actress in the world, Kunis is a tiny 5ft 3 inches (1.63 meters). Discussing her height, Kunis recently stated, “my friends call me hobbit. I come across shorter than I am. People will say, ‘You’re not five foot four.’ And I’ll say, ‘People, I know my height.’ I’m constantly winning bets – hundreds of dollars”. However, with costar Laura Prepon a whopping 5ft 10 inches (1.80 meters) Kunis was often filmed sitting down when sharing a scene with her fellow cast-mate. That’s right, tiny when compared to her co-stars, Kunis would usually be filmed sitting down, or standing up when the rest of the cast were seated. Plus, to make her appear even taller, Kunis would be fitted with killer heels, as well as standing upon hidden boxes off screen.
13. Lisa Robin Kelly Was Replaced On The Show Due To Her Troubles With Alcohol
As well as being known for her role as Laurie Forman, the older sister of Eric, Lisa Robin Kelly was already an established actress before joining the acclaimed show. Making her debut in Married…with Children in 1992, Kelly starred in a number of TV movies, as well as popular TV shows. Leaving midway through the third season, the character was written out, with Laurie said to have gone to “beauty school.” However, returning during its fifth season, Kelly was eventually replaced with Christina Moore, with it revealed that Kelly had a severe drinking problem. Arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence, Kelly was later arrested again, this time for assault. Checking into rehab in order to combat her addictions, Kelly sadly passed away in her sleep.
12. Jackie Is The Only Character Who Calls Everyone By Their Actual Name
Snobby, self-absorbed and a pain in the ass, Jackie, played by the wonderful Mila Kunis, is one of the main characters throughout the series. Girlfriend to Kelso, Hyde, and Fez, Jackie is often seen giving out unwanted advice, as well as commenting on the lives of her friends. However, somewhat different to the other characters, Jackie comes from a wealthy family, and is often seen to be extremely spoiled and superficial. Acting as the only teenager to not be called by her last name, Jackie also proceeds to call all of the other characters by their first names only, referring to Kelso as Michael and Forman as Eric. Romantically involved with three of the four male leads, the majority of Jackie’s story lines are based upon who she will end up with and marry.
11. The Show Had A Ton Of Celebrity Guest Stars
With two hundred episodes and eight seasons, it’s no surprise to see that the show garnered a reputation for celebrity guest stars. Launching the careers of its main stars, the show was also a platform for other celebs in the making, with a number of now famous superstars getting their big break on the show. With Eliza Dushku making herself known across television sets at the time, the actress not only starred in the seventh season, but also appeared in the critically acclaimed TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And that’s not all. From Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Simpson and Amy Adams, That ’70s Show was clearly a favorite among young Hollywood stars, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt also making an appearance. In fact, even the older and more established generation got involved, with Luke Wilson showing up in season four.
10. Tommy Chong’s Prison Sentence Resulted In Script Changes
Comedian, actor, writer, musician, director and all around activist, there is nothing Thomas B. Kin Chong can’t do – well, so it seems anyway. Known for his extensive marijuana use, Chong is a big part of infamous cannabis themed comedy movie, Cheech & Chong, garnering somewhat of a legendary status among stoners all over the world. Appearing as Leo on That ’70s Show, Chong played an aging hippy who befriended the teenagers. Immediately turning into a fan favorite, Leo was one of the only adults allowed into the stoner circle. However, written out due to Chong’s subsequent jail sentence, Leo is absent throughout most of season five, without an actual explanation. Returning in the seventh season, after being released from jail, Leo was back where he belonged, appearing sporadically until the finale in season eight.
9. The Stoner Circle Was To Get Around Censors
Dubbed ‘the stoner circle’, the setting was devised so that the characters could act like they were stoned without actually being pictured with a joint. With pot a vital aspect of 70s culture, the creators wanted to incorporate truthful stories into the show, with smoking weed common within teenage groups at the time. With the use of the camera, the scene would film as if each character were passing the joint to the next person, creating the atmosphere of a stoner’s circle. Taking place in the basement of main character Eric’s basement, the circle usually featured the four main male leads. Popular with audiences, the stoner circle was used during the opening credits of the final season, instead of the usual opening scene with the leads seen driving around in Eric’s car.
8. Many Of The Episodes Were Named After 70s Bands And Songs
With the show beginning in the mid-70s in order for the show to seem real, the year 1976 was chosen with regards to the sexual revolution, notorious President of the United States, Richard Nixon, and the ultimate Sci-Fi thriller, Star Wars. Famed for its political story-lines and inclusions, the show was also noted for its music, with the soundtrack becoming just as important as the story lines themselves. Taking it that one step further, many of the episodes’ names were somewhat related to a band or song from the 70s. With season five episodes all named after Led Zeppelin songs, season six featured all songs from The Who, season seven is in tribute to the Rolling Stones, and the season eight episodes are all named after the back catalog of musical superpower, Queen.
7. Mila Kunis Was The Only Actual Teenager
Originally born in the Ukraine, Milena Markovna Kunis moved to Los Angeles when she was just seven years old. Appearing in a number of commercials, Kunis got her first big break when she was just fourteen years old. That’s right, auditioning for the role of Jackie Burkhart, producers told Kunis that she had to be at least eighteen years of age. Telling them that she would turn eighteen eventually, but not revealing exactly when, Kunis landed the role, with producers eventually figuring out the ruse much later. Totally embodying the role, Kunis was forgiven, going on to become one of the most popular characters on the show. Appearing in all two hundred episodes, Kunis also won a number of awards, winning Best Young Actress in a Comedy TV Series in 1999 and 2000 for her performance.
6. Eric Had Different Birthdays
With the show famed for dates, producers clearly failed with one aspect of remembering important dates, with Eric Forman’s birthday seemingly forgotten. That’s right, a major inconsistency throughout its eight-season run, Eric had a number of different birthdays as well as ages. In the second episode of the first season, the episode, “Eric’s Birthday” takes place on May 18th, 1976, with young Eric turning a mighty seventeen years old. However, after season one, the show began a “floating timeline” which meant for every one year in the show, two holiday specials would pass. Adding to the confusion, it was earlier announced that Hyde, Eric’s pal, was younger than Eric. Yet, in season four, Hyde turns eighteen in November, and Eric is still a measly seventeen years old. To make matters worse, as the series continued, Eric at one point claimed his birthday was in March, as well as July. Make up your minds, writers!
5. The Passage Of Time Was Portrayed On The License Plate
Time was seemingly a big deal to the show’s writers, with the aspect of days and dates extremely important to the show’s premise. With the show actually taking up an entire decade of real time within eight seasons, the alternate reality actually only took up four. Beginning in 1976, the year is given at the start of every episode during the theme song, detailing the passage of time on Eric’s Vista Cruiser. Yep, seen on the license plate of his beloved car, the year marks each season, as it moves forward in fictional time. With the theme song in itself also somewhat special, the show usually opened with the song, “In the Street” by music group, Big Star. Confirming they were paid $70 in royalties, band member Alex Chilton often quipped at the ironic number, given the show’s title.
4. The Finale Took Days To Film
Airing on May 18th, 2006, the show presented the end of the 70s as a decade and the end of the show itself. Ending in Forman’s basement, back where it all began, the camera then cuts to the car bumper which now reads ’80. However, although moving for the viewers, the actors were having a hard time saying goodbye also. Frequently delayed due to emotions, it was Laura Prepon in particular who couldn’t stop crying. With the cast all extremely close, it was Kunis and Kutcher who became the closest, marrying years later and having two children. When asked if she would attend the wedding, (before they were married), Prepon stated, “If Mila wanted us there, which she would because we’re family. We support each other.” Awww.
3. Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Didn’t Reach Wisconsin Until 2002
Mmmmm Krispy Kreme. The nation’s favorite doughnut, Krispy Kreme, is featured heavily throughout the show’s eight-season run. Opening its doors in 1933, the store was originally based in Kentucky, USA. Managing to beat out the Great Depression and move to the larger city of Nashville, Tennessee, the legendary doughnuts began raking in the big bucks. Expanding throughout the 50s and 60s, the delicious doughnuts were known throughout the Southeast. However, with the show’s creators guilty of not doing their homework, it was later revealed that Krispy Kreme had not yet reached the lonely state of Wisconsin, instead setting up shop a lengthy three decades later. And that’s not all, with the Krispy Kreme doughnut boxes all seen displaying a logo from the 1980s, it seems the show just couldn’t get things right with regards to its circled treats.
2. Kitty Forman Quit Smoking On And Off Screen
Portrayed by Debra Jo Rupp, Kitty Forman played the mother of main character Eric Forman. Married to Red Forman, the two have a stressful relationship, with Kitty often seen hooked on cigarettes and alcohol. Despite being a nurse, Kitty knows the dangers of smoking and drinking, finding it difficult to quit. Smoking frequently for a number of years, Kitty decides to stop for good, due in part to real life actress Debra Jo Rupp also quitting off screen. Slowly phased out after season three, Kitty was rarely seen with a cigarette, seemingly kicking the habit for good. However, known to relapse for comedic reasons throughout the show’s future seasons, Kitty was often seen taking smokes from the younger teenagers who often resided in her basement.
1. The Street Survivors 1977 Winter Tour
With a number of 70s memorabilia scattered around the place, band posters, film posters and several 70s related things can often be seen in the background. In fact, seen behind the counter during a scene at the infamous The Grooves record store, a poster advertising the Lynyrd Skynyrd, Street Survivors 1977 Winter Tour can be seen. Sadly the tour was never completed, due to a plane crash in October 1977. En route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the chartered airplane suddenly crashed, killing the pilot, co-pilot, the group’s assistant road-manager and three band members, lead singer/founding member Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, and backing vocalist Cassie Gaines. Taking a ten-year hiatus, the band returned for a reunion tour, with younger brother of Ronnie Van Zant, Johnny Van Zant, taking lead vocals.