The Boyfriend of the Week

August 23, 1999

This week's Boyfriend is too young for me.

Eh, who cares? He's cute as a bug!

Now, I'm sure most of you don't recognize him, and that's completely understandable (read: I forgive you). I didn't know who he was either, until about 6 months ago. That's because I never watched Topher Grace's show until then. In fact, and I'd appreciate it if we just kept this between you and me so there's no chance Topher will ever find out about it: I swore when it first came out that I would NEVER watch it because I thought the name was really really stupid. But one night I gave it a shot, and I've been a loyal fan ever since. Now I'd even go so far as to say "That 70's Show" is one of only TWO sit-coms on television today that is actually funny (the other is "Just Shoot Me," and I am begging you guys NOT to flood my inbox with e-mail objections, please). If you're watching anything else, you are wasting your time.

On "That 70's Show," Topher plays Eric Forman, the only boy on his block who is not a ridiculous stereotype (though I love the ridiculous stereotypes too). He's naive and cute and smart and perpetually confused -- just how I like 'em! The show is about a group of high-school aged kids who spend a lot of time hanging out in Eric's basement and talking about girls, boys, smoking pot, and parents. The characters are wonderful and the show is riotous. I have never seen an episode yet that didn't make me laugh out loud and a couple have had me laughing so hard my cheeks hurt. While it does, obviously, spend a lot of time poking fun at the 70's and all the insane color schemes and dance moves that went along with it, the show isn't your typical boring old "disco sure was funny, wasn't it?" comedy about the times. The decade and all it's ridiculous qualities take the back-seat to the REAL focus: the exploration of adolescence and friendships. What makes it funny isn't the jokes about orange furniture and big hair, but the ones about the clumsy movements kids make towards adulthood, and all the trouble they get into while on their way there.

In fact, I've decided the title is actually BRILLIANT; it's the ultimate irony. It's not a show about the 70's at all. It's not "That 70's Show" any more than "The Wonder Years" was "That 60's Show." The setting is completely incidental and that's what makes this not just another situation-comedy. It's literature! No, it is! I swear!

Just in case you are wondering, no, Topher hasn't been in anything else, except for a bunch of high school plays (big drama geek cutie!). In fact, a high school play was where he was discovered, and good thing, too! He's perfect for the part of Eric Forman, though. He's got all the qualities a person with a foot in both worlds (childhood, adulthood) should have -- mostly a good balance of curiosity and fear -- and, well, schucks, he looks like he's a pretty good smoocher, too.

So, if you've got thirty minutes to spare some Monday night, turn on Fox and check out Topher Grace in "That 70's Show." If you don't laugh, or at LEAST chuckle, there's obviously something very wrong with you.

MacGyver Factor Score: 95.8%. I took points off for having the name "Topher." Becoming an actor in the real world presented him with the PERFECT opportunity to do something about that name and he blew his chance! Topher! What were you thinking?!

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