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Laura Prepon Explains Why That '70s Show Draws A Multigenerational Audience

"That '70s Show" may have been sold on the premise of nostalgia for the 1970s, but the show had a wide appeal beyond the generation that grew up in that era. Very few of the jokes were about the decade the show took place in, and instead, the show focused on teenage friendships that were universal to every generation. While the characters on the show would technically be baby boomers, the show aired while the millennial generation was still growing up and therefore appealed to the young people of its day.

A CNN article from 1998 mentioned that the premiere won its time slot amongst the most coveted demographic for advertisers, the 18 to 49-year-olds, showing it appealed to a younger crowd. In a thread in the r/Millennials subreddit about the show started by u/Djf47021, many millennials expressed their love for the show. "I have a particularly fond memory of watching the first episode," wrote u/Red-Apium. "This show epitomized the best times of youth." In fact, according to a poll conducted by YouGov, the show is more popular with millennials than any other generation. The poll surveyed viewers from the millennial, Gen X, and baby boomer generations and found that all three generations were about equally aware of the show but that it was most popular with millennials, with 65% saying they liked the show, compared to 56% of gen-Xers and 46% of baby boomers. Still, that means there's a significant number of fans in each generation.

So what accounts for the show's appeal across multiple generations, particularly generations that never experienced the 70s? Laura Prepon (Donna Pinciotti) has a theory about that.

Laura Prepon thinks young people relate to the relationships and older fans relate to the clothes

In an interview that was part of the behind-the-scenes special filmed for the finale of "That '70s Show," Laura Prepon, who starred as Donna Pinciotti in all eight seasons of the show, explained why she thinks the show has multi-generational appeal. In the interview, she talked about how people who didn't grow up in the 70s relate to the relationships between the characters and mainly relate to the romance between Donna and Eric (Topher Grace). "What's cool is the kids relate to our relationships, and people who grew up in the '70s, they like watching the clothes and everything," she said. She also mentioned that viewers who grew up in the 70s might relate to the parents better, even though they were kids during that decade.

In an interview with ET, the Gen Z cast of the spin-off, "That '90s Show," talked about their experiences stepping into the 90s, a decade some weren't alive for. Reyn Doi, who plays Ozzie on the show, said he was born in 2008 but developed an appreciation for the 90s from working on the show. Doi said he loves the fashion of the era and the fact that people weren't on their phones all the time. It suggests that there's some appeal to the spin-off, too, that goes beyond nostalgia for the generation that grew up in the decade that the show takes place. With a Gen Z cast playing Gen X kids, it makes for something that people of almost any age can enjoy.