First, That ’70s Show creators Bonnie and Terry Turner initially turned down doing a spinoff at Netflix. However, during the pandemic, they loved the thought of “wanting to go home,” and that’s where the idea for setting That ’90s Show back in the Formans’ house came from.
Gregg Mettler, who wrote for the original series, was then brought on as showrunner and co-creator of That ’90s Show, alongside Bonnie, Terry, and their daughter, Lindsay Turner.
Gregg was the one who actually came up with the idea to have That ’90s Show set over the summer and have it center on Eric Forman and Donna Pinciotti’s daughter, Leia, staying with Red and Kitty.
In fact, the idea came from Gregg not wanting the series to start because of a tragedy. He knew he didn’t want someone from That ’70s Show to have died, or for their life not to have worked out, and that’s why we’d be back in Point Place.
Setting That ’90s Show over a summer vacation also gave the creators and writers a chance to invite original cast members back without them having to be in every single episode.
Debra Jo and Kurtwood immediately said yes to returning after hearing the initial pitch for the spinoff series. Both of them brought their own ideas as to how Kitty and Red Forman have changed in the 15 years since we last saw them.
One of the most emotional days of filming involved watching Debra Jo and Kurtwood step onto the re-created sets for the first time.
In fact, Bonnie said she was “brought to tears” several times while filming That ’90s Show — namely, when she first saw the set, when Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis filmed their scene together, and when Topher Grace and Laura Prepon did the same.
The moment when Eric and Donna push each other’s head while sitting on the hood of the car in the Formans’ driveway, which is reminiscent of a scene in the That ’70s Show pilot, was unscripted.
Once Ashton and Mila agreeded to come back for an episode, the writers knew they had to write in a “Damn, Jackie” for Kelso. Their scene was one of the “easiest” to write for Gregg.
Prior to filming Episode 1, Ashton was sending Gregg videos of himself running around the house in Kelso’s wardrobe and yelling, “Damn, Jackie.”
While filming Episode 1, Ashton studied his lines on the couch in the Formans’ basement, just like he did while filming That ’70s Show. He fell asleep, and when he woke up, he said it was the “strangest feeling” to see Mila dressed as Jackie standing over him.
Wilmer Valderrama hadn’t done his iconic Fez voice since That ’70s Show ended. The first time he did it again was for Bonnie and Terry, when they called to ask if he’d guest-star on That ’90s Show.
A lot of thought went into how the Formans’ house has changed since That ’70s Show ended. For starters, the couch that used to be in the living room is now in the basement.
Some of the furniture from the original That ’70s Show set was actually in Ashton and Mila’s basement at their house. They brought back some of it for That ’90s Show.
Casting director Marc Hirschfeld, who cast the original That ’70s Show, was brought back to cast That ’90s Show. His talent “for finding people who are unsuspecting” and “natural actors” was one of the reasons he was brought back. Plus, it added to the “magic” of having the original casting director find the new generation.
When the original That ’70s Show cast was on set, they took the time to chat with the new cast and give them advice. They talked about what their lives were like both on- and offscreen while filming the original series.
The creators saw “a lot of people” for the role of Leia Forman, until finally Callie Haverda popped up in an audition and they got “chills.”
Mace Coronel didn’t originally know he was auditioning to play Jackie and Kelso’s son, Jay. As soon as the creators saw his first taped audition, they couldn’t help but notice the strong resemblance he has to Ashton and Mila.
Before Mace’s chemistry read with Callie, Gregg finally told him he was auditioning to play Jackie and Kelso’s son. Once he knew, Gregg said, Mace really leaned into it and began to embody Ashton’s Kelso.
The writers decided to pair up Leia and Jay in Season 1 because the idea of a Forman and a Kelso dating was “too good to resist.”
Sam Morelos, who stars as Nikki, was attending a performing arts high school when she auditioned for the role. In fact, she did her callback in between classes and was struggling to find a Wi-Fi signal so she could sign into the Zoom call.
Reyn Doi, who plays Ozzie, was the first person they cast for That ’90s Show. Previously, Reyn appeared in Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, which is where some of the producers knew him from.
The idea for Ozzie to come out as gay to Kitty came from the writers’ knowledge that Kitty would “embrace the ’90s” and all of the changes that come with it.
Maxwell Acee Donovan, who plays Nate, reminded the Turners a lot of Ashton when he was cast on That ’70s Show. Both Max and Ashton were able to really grow comedically over the course of Season 1.
Almost all of the original That ’70s Show cast members who returned brought back props they had taken when the original series wrapped. First, Debra Jo had the memorable glass grapes that sat on Kitty’s table as well as pictures from the original set, including one with Betty White and Tom Poston, who played Kitty’s parents.
Wilmer had Eric’s Vista Cruiser, which he brought back alongside some of Fez’s That ’70s Show wardrobe.
When creating the new generation of teenagers for That ’90s Show, Gregg was “hyperaware” that they’d be compared with the original teens. Ultimately, they created characters who were different enough but had similar mannerisms because “times change, but kids don’t.”
Writing the show from a “female protagonist’s point of view this time” was important to the That ’90s Show creators. It allowed them to explore different storylines they didn’t get to when Eric was the lead character. In fact, the series had a “female-heavy” writers room this time around.
In fact, one of the things that having a female protagonist allowed was exploring female friendships, namely with Leia and Gwen Runck (played by Ashley Aufderheide). While Jackie and Donna were important to That ’70s Show, Leia and Gwen are the “heart of the show” this time around.
One of Terry’s favorite scenes that really illustrates Leia and Gwen’s friendship is in the Season 1 finale, when they talk about Leia’s almost-kiss with Nate.
Laura actually directed the final two episodes of That ’90s Show Season 1, and it was “magical” having her on the other side of the camera this time around.
One of the best parts about That ’90s Show was watching Debra Jo and Kurtwood hang out with the new generation of teenagers. In particular, Terry recalled watching Debra Jo, Reyn, Ashley, and Callie hanging out in the kitchen between takes and Debra Jo being “mesmerized” by them.
Bonnie’s favorite That ’70s Show Easter egg is the faded pot leaf on the water tower. She loves that the water tower was able to become a central set on this show, too.
Meanwhile, Lindsay loves that the Green Bay Packers helmet and the Candy Land board game are still in the Formans’ basement in That ’90s Show.
Gregg has a very sentimental Easter egg he hid in That ’90s Show. He placed a photo of That ’70s Show writer Rob DesHotel, who died in 2018, in the basement because he “loved writing scenes down in that basement set with those kids in the 360s.”
Costume designer Melina Root, key hairstylist Cindy Costello, and more worked on That ’70s Show and returned to work on That ’90s Show.
While filming one of the classic Forman basement 360-degree shots, the young cast started singing “Careless Whisper” by George Michael in between takes.
And finally, the That ’70s Show actor the new cast was most excited to meet was Tommy Chong, who plays Leo. In fact, when he first arrived, they all went to set and took pictures with him.
What did you think of That ’90s Show? Tell us in the comments below!