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'That 70's Show's' Biggest Mistake

Like any good TV show, 'That 70’s Show' is not perfect and infuriated its own audience with a series of mistakes.

By Jaime BurbattPublished 6 years ago 6 min read

Like any good TV show, That 70’s Show is not perfect and infuriated its own audience with a series of mistakes. The downfall of this extremely popular show is usually credited with the eighth and final season that is not held highly by its groovy following. In fact, most fans tend to disregard it all together, which is not hard to understand considering it plays like a series of character assassinations and frustratingly inadequate story-lines. But believe it or not, the horror of the eighth season is not what I credit as the show’s biggest injustice. In fact, this mistake occurs much earlier. The first season of any show is only the warm-up to what the audience might be viewing later. So with it comes introductions, hesitant story-lines, and blooming characters. That 70’s Show hit its eleventh episode when it introduced Buddy Morgan (as portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). And as it turns out, he happens to be gay and interested in our main character, Eric, which brings us to the true crime of the show. Buddy Morgan was intended to be a recurring character but he ended up being cut from the show before he could even make another appearance. A true mistake and I will tell you why.

Buddy Morgan got the boot from the still new television show because of poor reaction from the audience. “Buddy Morgan (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) was introduced in 'Eric's Buddy', and was intended to become a recurring character. However, the introduction of homosexual Buddy as a love interest for Eric (at a time when both Eric and Hyde were competing for Donna) did not go over well with audiences, and Buddy was cut from the show." (“List of That '70s Show Characters.” Wikipedia). So as it seemed, Buddy was not pursued as he was intended because of fear of continuing poor reception. It’s also notable that this quote refers to him as a "love interest." Tragically, it’s not hard to believe that in 1998 a character who identified as homosexual would not have been well received. But what the one episode offers us is a comfortable, kind, and likable character that could have been great to explore. Through the episode, it’s gathered that Buddy is comfortable with himself and an all-around good friend. Having had him stick around for the duration of the show would have offered a neutral sort of character that was just what the show lacked.

The cast of characters in this show had a collection of very prominent personality traits that were easy to define. Eric was the nice and geeky guy, Kelso was the dimwitted friend, Donna was the strong feminist, Jackie was the rich cheerleader, Hyde was the anti-establishment member of the group, and Fez was more or less the sweet yet wild card within their gang. What Buddy Morgan had to offer was a balance between them. He was kind of geeky like Eric and rich like Jackie and was your average nice guy. Had he stayed in the show, he would have contributed impartial help with plot-lines in a way that none of the others could. Which inherently, would have shaped the show in a different way and might have lead it down a better path then that of season eight. Buddy would have turned at least Eric, Donna, and Hyde in some new directions considering their already established love triangle being somewhat interrupted with Buddy. There’s no saying Eric and Buddy would have ended up a thing because even if the show had been brave enough to keep Buddy around, they might not have wanted to take that big of a leap with the main character. But it would have made for an interesting story-line had it been done. Though as stated before, it’s notable that the previous quote referred to Buddy as "a love interest."

The most obvious reason as to why Buddy should have stuck around is the set-up of the episode itself. The ending leaves the audience with the idea that Buddy is going to stick around, considering the suggestive dialogue from Buddy’s questioning. “Listen, man, if you don't want to be my lab partner anymore then I'll understand.” And Eric’s answer to that, “No. I didn't mean it like that. Look, we're still friends.” (“That '70s Show s01e11 Episode Script | SS.” Springfield! Springfield! ). As sourced previously, it was clear Buddy was meant to reappear during the show's run and they had set it up that way. But the failure to follow through with this makes the episode fall flat, not in terms of content since it remains a fan favorite, but the entire episode is basically erased. It’s never acknowledged or mentioned again, much like Buddy’s existence. It leaves us unsatisfied and to wonder what could have been.

Buddy Morgan may have been short-lived but in his only episode, he and Eric did make a little bit of history as their quick kiss at the movies was the first gay kiss on North American prime-time TV! There is no doubt Buddy would have been a great addition and undoubtedly would have been such great representation, because it was not common to have a character in a sitcom be not only gay but completely comfortable and chill with himself as Buddy was. It would have done not only the show good but also the young audience. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has commented; “Oh, I was totally proud of that, and I still am. It was a great bit, and it got a great reaction. More than anything else, though, I remember that it was written very well, because the emphasis wasn’t on it being gay but on making sure the scene worked and was funny. It was great that it showed people it was just a normal thing.” (TheAdvocateMag. “Not Your Average Joe.”) "Eric’s Buddy" is an episode that was handled ultimately very well and proved to be great enough that it really made the audience of today wish Buddy hadn’t been cut.

It’s been said a few times that this episode does not age well and was not written very nicely. But I have to disagree, I think Buddy was written wonderfully and was not reduced to just "a gay character." In fact, in the minimal time we had with him, we see Buddy to be a warm, charming, and geeky guy. Sort of mirroring our well-liked main character, Eric, which I think helps to establish the idea that people aren’t defined by sexuality. The gang of teens from the basement even handled the situation very well and if it seemed as if they were a little iffy, it was because the show does take place in the '70s, which wasn't a very accepting time. It just wouldn’t be realistic to glaze over that fact. So, though Kelso claimed if Buddy was gay then he’d be all over him and Jackie firstly denied Buddy to be gay, it was because of the time. And even then, they didn’t seem disgusted or rude about it. Eric’s own reaction to being kissed could have been a lot worse. Eric is even quick to say that all was ok when Buddy apologizes on the car ride back. And he then leaves us with the sadly unfulfilled promise that they will continue being friends. Not by Eric’s choice, but by the show’s creative direction after the poor reception.

Ultimately, I do think this was the show's greatest misstep/disappointment. But that's just me. Not even season eight frustrates me more then the idea that we were deprived of this character. Because had he stuck around, obviously the show would have turned out differently. What’s your least favorite thing about That 70’s Show? Do you wish Buddy Morgan stuck around for longer then he did?


About the Creator

Jaime Burbatt

My name is Jaime, I'm 24 years old & my dream is to be an author

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