We Only Have 'It's Always Sunny Philadelphia' Because Of A Failed 'That '70s Show' Spinoff
That ‘70s Show was a huge hit back in the day, so it’s quite understandable that producers would try and squeeze out a spinoff because everyone wants to believe in a golden formula that will churn out success forever and ever, praise Plutus. Also, people go bananas for absolutely anything ‘80s. It was inevitable that there’d be an attempt at a show about the weird decade that gave us Reagan and spandex, but somehow not Reagan in spandex.
And no, that spinoff series wasn’t called Freaks and Geeks (like some people referred to Judd Apatow’s show that also only had one season). The show we're referring to was simply called, That ‘80s Show.
As you can probably see from the title sequence alone, it wasn’t a direct spinoff. That would usually involve extending the story of one of the original characters and making it all about them in a “my time to shine” kind of way. That ‘80s Show wasn’t that. It used the same title format, plus the same episode structure with the same writers and showrunners, but it had no connection to That ‘70s Show. It was basically all the stereotypical ideas of what the ‘80s were like condensed into people and their choices of mainstream music and unfortunate hairstyles. So, That ‘70s Show, but in the ‘80s. It’s kind of bizarre how a concept so simply didn’t work.
Oh, maybe it had to do with the hacky writing and the fact that not even 10 minutes into the pilot, we get to not-laugh at some homophobic jokes.
Turns out the show only lasting one season isn’t that big a surprise. One critic brought up a good point about it being strange that they’d make a show for people in their early 30s about young 20-somethings in the ‘80s when people who were actually in their 20s during the ‘80s were pushing 40 when the show came out in 2002. It’s always about numbers, you guys.
Anyway, That ‘80s Show failed, but according to Glenn Howerton it was just a stepping stone to the blossoming of his more successful show, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Howerton said that the money he made from the failed show with the cringing laugh track was used to buy the camera that recorded the first Sunny episode.
So you see, kids, sometimes it just takes a horrible TV show filled with every kind of disparaging joke you can think of to eventually make a bigger, more successful TV show filled with every kind of disparaging joke possible.
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Thumbnail: 20th Television, The Carsey-Werner Company