Why Big Rhonda From That ’70s Show Wouldn’t Fly Today

First introduced in the Season 4 premiere, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Rhonda is immediately established as an unattractive nerd who serves as nothing more than the butt of demeaning jokes from the main cast of “That ’70s Show.” She’s portrayed as a loud, obnoxious, heavily-built girl who spends most of her time eating or complaining about being hungry. When viewers first meet her, she appears in Eric’s daydream as an undesirable alternative to Donna (Laura Prepon). Heartbroken over the collapse of his romance, he fears that he’ll end up having to date Big Rhonda and get stuck with her. Over time, however, Big Rhonda becomes a love interest for Fez (Wilmer Valderrama), causing his friends to unleash a swarm of derogatory comments about her weight and looks.

Another problematic element aspect of the character is how she was portrayed by an actress in a bodysuit. Cynthia Lamontagne was known for her roles in movies like “Austin Powers: Man of Mystery” as an attractive fembot, and the decision to put her in a “fat suit” could be interpreted as quite demeaning. As Fluffy Kitten Party points out, this trope is distasteful, as it represents the notion that every fat person has a wish-fulfillment fantasy in which there is a prettier, thinner person living inside them. Big Rhonda typified this idea, and such a storyline would undoubtedly be panned in a contemporary show.

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