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The Term From That '70s Show That Has Fans Scratching Their Heads

That '70s Show is one of the most successful period sitcoms in television history. From 1998 to 2006, audiences watched six midwestern teens navigate the mid-to-late 1970s by spending most of their time in Eric Forman's (Topher Grace) basement. While the show is cartoonish at times, it authentically depicts that era. One way the series does this is by sprinkling in numerous 1970s pop culture references. For instance, the gang constantly mocks Eric's fixation with the first Star Wars movie, which was released in 1977. 

On top of pop culture references, the show also uses slang from the decade that may make viewers who grew up during the 1970s feel nostalgic. However, fans from younger generations or those unaware of '70s slang may have difficulty understanding certain phrases from the show, as evidenced by a recent Reddit thread. The post in question was posted on the That '70s Show subreddit by a fan (though the original post was deleted after the question was answered). 

"When the gang refers to their classmates as 'heads' does that mean metal-head?" asked the Reddit user. 

Jackie confuses young That '70s Show fans with a particular piece of slang

A few fans of the show flocked to the comments section to answer the question, with the consensus being that the term means a drug user, specifically a "pothead." One commenter with the username _dmgz noted that Jackie Burkhart (Mila Kunis) says the term in the first season's 11th episode, titled "Eric's Buddy."

"It's from the episode where Eric makes friends with the popular kid who kisses him. Jackie is trying to explain the complexity of the 'clique jump' Eric is close to accomplishing. Head is short for Pothead," wrote the Reddit user. 

During the episode, Eric gets close to his lab partner Buddy (Joseph Gordon Levitt), who secretly has a crush on him. After school, Buddy offers Eric a ride in his Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to the popular restaurant The Hub, where Jackie, Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), and Donna (Laura Prepon) are already eating. Jackie is shocked when she discovers that Eric is with his classmate, as he and Buddy are from different high school circles.

"This is a serious clique breach," asserts the cheerleader. 

When Donna mocks her for making that statement, Jackie elaborates, stating, "You see, Buddy is in the rich kid clique. They mingle with the jock clique. Then you have your smokers and your heads, okay? The rich kids can be smokers and jocks can be heads but jocks cannot be smokers unless they're rich."

That '70s Show used slang to get around network standards

While the term "head" is accurate to the slang of the era, the show's writers may have also chosen that word, instead of "pothead," to adhere to network television guidelines when talking about cannabis culture. As with many teenagers who grew up in the 1970s, the gang has a deep appreciation for marijuana. However, Fox prohibited the series from showing its young characters partaking in the substance, as reported by Screen Rant. To get the point across that everyone's favorite Point Place teens were massive stoners, the show used a rotating camera, a smoke machine, and lit cigarettes positioned out of frame. These "circle" scenes suggested the characters were sharing a joint and getting high, but were subtle enough to make it on air. 

Screen Rant notes that when the gang did talk about pot, they would refer to it as "the stash," most likely to also toe the line of television standards. Not once was "the stash" seen by the audience, and it was typically hidden inside a paper lunch bag. For example, in the aforementioned episode "Eric's Buddy," Buddy purchases a brown bag presumably full of marijuana. He then high-fives an ecstatic Eric, implying that they are both "heads."