Is the ‘That ’90s Show’ Theory About Leia’s Real Dad True?
After 18 years, the set of the successful 90s-early 2000s sitcom, That ’70s Show, has gotten some use. In Red (Kurtwood Smith) and Kitty Forman’s (Debra Jo Rupp) world, it has been 15 years since their house has been full of dumbass teenagers. Red has been pleased, but Kitty decidedly has not. On January 19, the highly anticipated That ’90s Show premiered on Netflix with Smith and Rupp reprising their roles as Red and Kitty and cameos from several other original cast members (Topher Grace, Laura Prepon, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, and Wilmer Valderrama).
In the first episode of That ’90s Show, viewers are introduced to Eric and Donna Forman’s daughter, fittingly named Leia (portrayed by Callie Haverda), as a tribute to Eric’s love of Star Wars. She is 15-years-old, having been born in 1980, sometime very shortly after the end of the That ’70s Show. Eric and Donna, now living in Chicago, visit Point Place for the 4th of July weekend with a plan for Eric and Leia to go to Father-Daughter Space Camp shortly after. Instead, Leia makes friends with the neighborhood kids and decides to stay with Red and Kitty all summer.
Leia is adorable and awkward, like Eric, but finds herself falling for Jay Kelso (Mace Coronel), who, unbeknownst to her, is the son of her mother and father’s childhood friends Michael Kelso (Kutcher) and Jackie Burkhart (Kunis). Leia navigates Point Place, determined to have a quintessential teenage summer, much like her parents did when growing up there, except in the 90s. The show makes several 90s references for those old enough to remember, like the popularity of Raisin Bran, the hold mini cereal boxes had on kids, and the hold Zima had on our parents.
That ’90s Show conjures nostalgia for those who remember That ’70s Show, and although it aired nearly 20 years ago, many still remember the show’s details, both good and bad. At the end of Season 7, Eric leaves for Africa to teach and, thereby, pay for his college tuition. In reality, Grace left to pursue other acting options. Regardless, showrunners cast Josh Meyers as the character Randy Pearson in place of his absence. Then, as hardcore fans may remember, Kutcher also left the show midway through Season 8 while his character got a job at a club in Chicago. Meyers’ character then functioned as a placeholder for both characters. During Season 8, Randy becomes Donna’s primary love interest.
Here’s where things get iffy: In the place where all theories possible begin, Reddit, fans started to debate about the possibility that Leia’s father is Randy and not Eric. But of course, this theory is just Internet garbage, right? Right? There simply is no way that Leia could be anything but a product of the Pinciottis and the Formans, for sure.
Well…honestly, it’s not a totally impossible idea. Here’s why.
The Timeline Adds Up
Randy was not particularly popular with fans, partially because of his character’s attempt to fill two spaces by being both witty like Eric is, but also a ladies’ man, like Kelso is. Randy is a sort of antithesis to Eric because he’s more smooth and handy. Even Red likes him, and frankly, the chemistry just did not mesh well with the rest of the group. However, the fact still stands that before Eric makes a surprise return from Africa on the 200th episode, set on December 31, 1979, and gets back together with Donna, she has a romance with Randy. Like any romance, a surprise baby is never out of the question.
The entire premise of this theory rests on the fact that the timeline of these relationships runs closely together. It’s undeniable that they do nearly overlap, and, as a result, both Randy or Eric could have feasibly fathered Leia, despite how many fans may hate to admit it.
The Star Wars Connection Between ‘That ’90s Show’ and ‘That ’70s Show’
It’s a running gag in the show that Eric loves Star Wars. As stated, his daughter’s name is a tribute to one of the most vital and prominent characters in the legendary franchise, Princess Leia Organa (the dearly departed, and sorely missed, Carrie Fisher). Of course, that’s all her name functions as — a homage. Or is it? It isn’t too far out of the question that her name is a double entendre that references the Princess’ storyline.
Throughout the first three films in the Skywalker Saga (or, Episodes 4-6 if the story is told in order), Princess Leia does not know that Darth Vader (James Earl Jones) is her father. In fact, Leia does not find out until Return of the Jedi, when her brother, Luke, divulges the identity of their biological father to her mid-battle. Luke himself found out in the prior episode, The Empire Strikes Back, which premiered in May 1980. Could the That ’90s Show creators be trying to set up a reveal later in the series, and if they did, would it not be one of the coolest call-backs to an iconic moment that occurred during Leia Forman’s canonical birth year?
Verdict: Possible, But We Hope Not
All theories aside, the idea of Randy being Leia’s biological father, while surprising and plausible, is not enticing for the series’ legacy. Given the lack of Randy Pearson’s popularity, a twist like this would be a stunning episode, but not necessarily a likable development. Despite his efforts, Meyers’ character is widely known as one of the worst characters in the series, and so far, the continuing storyline seems well-received. Also, poor Eric Forman would be heartbroken, even more than when Leia canceled their Space Camp plans.
That ’70s Show was essential to late-90s and early 2000s pop culture. The show ran for eight years and lives in the memories of 90s kids fondly as a way to connect with their real 70s kids parents. Who knows? Maybe That 90s Show will be just as integral to the pop culture of the 20s, but one thing is for sure: If this theory about Leia’s parentage comes to fruition, that won’t even be an option.
That ’90s Show is streaming on Netflix.