To the shock of television viewers and cultural historians alike, the makers of That ‘70s Show revealed yesterday that the hit Fox program was not, in fact, a documentary. “We certainly drew upon elements of ‘70s culture for the sake of realism—but no, by no means were we attempting to provide an authentic exploration of the complex socioeconomic issues faced by the middle class during the ‘Me’ Decade,” explained director David Trainer to reporters. He went on to state that the Show was not, as previously believed, compiled from period footage of a real Wisconsin family, but was instead filmed from 1998 to 2006 with paid actors in a Los Angeles-based studio. “Eric and Red Forman are not actual historical individuals,” he clarified. “They are fictitious characters portrayed by Topher Grace and Kurtwood Smith, which we thought was clear from the inception of the show.”
Unsurprisingly, the revelation has greatly upset leading figures in the academic community, many of whom have lauded the Show as a refreshingly genuine depiction of history “as it happened.” “To me, this hoax is particularly troubling,” reported Stanford historian Mark Walton, who had cited the show as a primary source in his Ph.D. dissertation. “It’s difficult to accept that something so seemingly authentic could turn out to be false. What once was an artful presentation of late 20th century societal themes—transitioning gender roles, atomized individualism, and neo-liberal economics—is now just a lie. Unbelievable.”
When reached for comment, representatives from Fox apologized profusely for the misunderstanding, but assured viewers that other programming, such as Family Guy and Fox News, are completely nonfictional.