That '70s Show

Season 5 Episode 19

Bring It On Home (a.k.a. Jackie's in the House)

Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Mar 26, 2003 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (5)

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out of 10
114 votes
  • The acting is fantastic, as usual .... but the writing makes this an outstanding episode.

    As with much of season 5, the writers are at their peak. The 70's-uendos flow as fast as the audience can absorb them - I repeatedly laughed out loud, alone in my living room. Once again, the plot straddles, seemingly without effort, the narrow no-man's land between parody and drama. The kitschiness of the props and pop-cultural references, everything from Donna parading around her pink can of Tab, to Kitty fearfully lamenting the potential theft of her Shirley Temple figurines, serves to remind us that this tale is being told ABOUT the 70's ... but, and this is the point, not as though it were actually AIRING during the 70's.

    While the razor-sharp, but (mostly) good-natured shots regularly taken at Star Wars and Abba records might bring howls, they're not the reason that most of us are fascinated with the daily travails of Eric, Hyde, Donna and the rest: we watch to find out more about ourselves, by putting ourselves in their places - in states of mind or in circumstances to which we can relate. The wonderful cast - overall, the best in recent TV memory - provide enough character depth to allow viewers to identify with their journey to adulthood. If you're 18, you identify with the struggles encountered by every American 18 year old, now or 25 years ago: if you're 45, you look back and chuckle, or maybe even wince, or wonder out loud. If you're over 30, you've come to realize that those little things that the characters take for granted, and which they view as trivial, will someday prove pivotal to defining their characters and their fates.

    In some ways, That 70's Show is the direct descendant of Happy Days, which would have been on the air in 1978, and which was also a retrospective look at Wisconsin teen life, 20 years earlier. Unlike, Happy Days, though, That 70's Show doesn't always have a happy ending: as we all now know, our Joannie and Chachi don't get married. Happy Days was ALWAYS a parody - even when it tried to be serious, it often failed. Happy Days, as its name implied, maintained the pretense that life during the Ike years was nearly flawless - That 70's Show, on the other hand, repeatedly mocks this notion, as it might have applied to the 70's, by having the characters spout notions that we, 25 years later, know are naive, factually incorrect, and, in some cases, dangerous to adhere to.

    So, with the passing of this episode, Jackie's tale becomes that of rich-girl swallowing hubris, after being all but abandoned by her bourgeois (and, in the case of her father, jailed) parents. Using actual late 70's TV as a benchmark, viewers might have expected this sort of monumental parental failure for Arnold and Willis (they never had a chance 'til Mr. Drummond came along), or for the likes of Patty Hearst (those super-rich people are all messed up anyway), but NOT, so it seemed at the time, for large numbers of middle class kids from the Heartland. Of course, we now know the truth - that kids of Jackie's generation were the leading edge of what turned into the most aborted, most incarcerated, most substance-abusing, most-likely to be a child-of-divorce generation in American History (refer to Strauss and Howe). The real Kimberly Drummond died at age 34, in a drugged out haze, living, at the time, in a motor home. So, rather than having Fonzie fix things up with a sharp rap on the jukebox, the writers, with their biting sarcasm, are really asking, "Where were you right before it all fell apart?" Bravo!!