For anyone who might recall a previous, infamous FOX show called “That ‘80s Show,” this one is different. It has an official connection to the original show, and the presiding grandparents to prove it. Kurtwood Smith and Debra Jo Rupp return as the patriarch and matriarch, respectively, of the Wisconsin home that hosts a new generation. They’re also the biggest stars of the returning cast this time, with plenty of time for Kitty’s whimsical flights of fancy and overexcitement or how the Archie Bunker-esque Red finds a new way to threaten to put his foot up someone’s ass.
In this update, former high schoolers Eric (Topher Grace) and Donna (Laura Prepon) now have a kid named Leia (a charismatic Callie Haverda), who inherits the same hormones, plucky nature, and malleable innocence that helped make Grace’s character so beloved. Instead of being shuttled off to Space Camp for the summer, she convinces her parents to let her stay with her grandparents Red and Kitty and to make friends with their neighbors who are Leia’s age. Throughout this first season, Leia’s new friends help her with first-kiss jitters, sneaking into a rave in Milwaukee, learning to drive, and more.
This season introduces a new batch of easygoing teenagers who are interconnected in a way that makes them like extended family. Riot grrrl Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide) is siblings with puppy dog jock Nate (Maxwell Acee Donovan), who is attached at the lips to the academically focused Nikki (Sam Morelos). Nikki is the sister of the often-eye-rolling Ozzie (Reyn Doi), who is looking to come out as gay to Kitty and others. And of course, there’s the next generation of Kelso in his son Jay, with Mace Colonel taking after the same macho goofiness that made Ashton Kutcher a star.