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|That '70s Show character|
|First appearance||"That '70s Pilot"
|Last appearance||"That '70s Finale"
|Created by||Mark Brazill|
|Portrayed by||Laura Prepon, Nina Jefferies (Donna at 13), Liliana Mumy (Donna at 7)|
|Nickname(s)||Hot Donna, Jugs A Poppin’, Big Red, Big D, Bigfoot, Lumberjack, Donna Pinch-My-Butt-i, Poop Chute Sally, Madam Man Fist, the Low Rider, Granny Panties, Hot Neighbour Girl|
|Occupation||High school student
Radio show host
|Family||Bob Pinciotti (father)
Midge Pinciotti (mother)
Valerie Pinciotti (sister)
Tina Pinciotti (sister)
|Significant other(s)||Eric Forman (boyfriend)
Casey Kelso (ex-boyfriend)
Randy Pearson (ex-boyfriend)
Donna Marie Pinciotti is a fictional character and one of the two female leads in the Fox sitcom That '70s Show, appearing in all eight seasons. Portrayed by Laura Prepon, Donna is the love interest to Eric Forman.
Donna's relationship with next-door neighbor Eric Forman is often the main focus of the series. However, it was tumultuous at times, having suffered two break-ups during the show's run. Despite this, Eric and Donna often act as the "parents" of the group, being mature and responsible when their friends are not, as for example in episodes like "Dine and Dash". Another episode that would illustrate their parenthood of the group is when they had just broken up and Eric took them all out and returned late. He and Donna engaged in an argument because Eric gave Fez ice cream and Donna was angry because now he wouldn't be hungry for dinner. When Fez was to be deported, she and Eric were upset because "their" Fez was leaving. Eric was sometimes threatened by his feeling inferior to her, especially during the third season, when she gets a job as a disc jockey.
Donna and Eric lost their virginity to each other in the beginning of season two, after many failed attempts to "do it". Their sexual activity was revealed once in a very humiliating manner, when a policeman caught them having sex in the back of Eric's car and took them back to his parents home, where Red forced Donna to tell her parents or else he would tell them. This further cemented Kitty's subconscious view of Donna as a rival for the role of being the primary woman in Eric's life.
In the beginning of the series, Hyde was also interested in Donna along with Eric. Donna made her choice clear, however, when she blew off her "study date" with Hyde to hang out with Eric. Even after the relationship between Eric and Donna was established, for a short time Donna usually went to Hyde when she felt unsure about her relationship and needed to talk about it. In such circumstances, Hyde usually referred to her as the "Hot Neighbor Girl" and to Eric as the "Scrawny little Neighbor Boy", or some variation on these. Though a romantic relationship between Donna and Hyde was never established, Hyde initially liked Donna and would have been interested in her if Eric had not kissed her first (as stated in the episode "It's a Wonderful Life"). Hyde still tried to win Donna in the beginning, when she and Eric weren't together. There are even some comments by Fez during that season that mock Hyde over these failed attempts. When the gang went up to Jackie's father's cabin for a ski trip, Hyde decided to kiss Donna and was slapped for his efforts, ending his infatuation but not their close friendship. Hyde never showed any significant interest in Donna again.
Toward the end of Season Three, Donna's job as a disc jockey was taking priority over her relationship with Eric, causing her to cancel their dates. While Donna genuinely felt that she was right to do this and was simply following her goals through to their logical conclusion with wanting to be a writer and a newswoman, her actions provoked a bad response in the normally even-keeled Eric, who felt that Donna was not taking him and/or their relationship seriously. Unable to resolve the conflict, Eric broke up with her in the third season finale The Promise Ring. Throughout season four, much awkwardness ensued over rights to the basement and trying to find new relationships. Donna was a bit annoyed at just how many girls were interested in Eric and happily mocked him when his attempts at finding a new girlfriend backfired. When she found out he dated another while they were apart (he kept it a secret), she was absolutely furious—believing he cheated on her.
During the fourth season, Donna began dating Casey Kelso (Luke Wilson), older brother of Michael Kelso. Even though he was flaky, a few years older than she was, and against Donna's feminist beliefs, Donna thought Casey was the perfect boyfriend, for he seemed to be sensitive, good-natured, laid-back, and easy-going. Eric saw Casey for what he was: an oversexed frat boy who just wanted to sleep with Donna and move on to the next girl. Eric tried to warn Donna but she ignored him, and he then threatened to hurt Casey if he hurt Donna.
Donna ends up skipping school to get drunk with Casey. When Eric and Kitty witness this, they – along with Red and Bob – decide to intervene, and, in an animated discussion in the Formans' living room, Casey dumps Donna, deciding that his relationship with her is not worth the hassle, also admitted that he never loved her. The realizations of her own overconfidence, poor judgment and being dumped in front of the people who meant the most to her came as a shock to Donna, who regarded herself as an ideal feminist, but who'd fallen for the type of man she always swore she would never be with.
Hurt, humiliated and heartbroken, Donna turns to Eric, who offers his sympathy. When a shaken-up, crying Donna tells him she wants to be with him again, he refuses, believing that she did not really want him for who he was but simply wanted a way to feel better about herself and would most likely dump him when someone better came along. A tearful Donna pleaded with him to take her back but he refused to be her "second choice". Eric was unwavering in his decision, until his father and mother pointed out to him that he was being an idiot. Even Kitty, who normally doted over him, called him a "dumbass".
Unable to handle being rejected by her first love, an emotionally wrecked Donna fled Point Place for California, where she lived with her mother and tried to sort out her feelings. She decided she truly did love Eric and tried to call him but couldn't get hold of him; she suspected he no longer wanted her and had moved on to another girlfriend, leaving her rather depressed. But then, to her delight, Eric showed up in California looking for her, and the two very romantically reunited and returned to Point Place. When Donna came home from California, the normally easy-going Bob sent her to a Catholic school as punishment, an act that Donna deeply resented and hated for the remainder of the school year. This occasion also gave the writers/creators an opportunity to change Donna's common "lumberjack" attire as she now wore, for a few episodes, the school's uniform consisting of a plaid skirt, a white shirt, and long white knee-high socks. Her new looks also provided openings for jokes from the boys about Donna's sexiness, which underlies their views of her throughout the series, no matter what type of attire she is wearing.
In season five, Eric ignored the objections of their friends and proposed to her at the water tower, which Donna accepted. Once Red and Kitty found out about the engagement, they were shocked. Kitty in particular, reacted badly, claiming that Donna was trying to snatch her "baby" away from her. Despite enduring a great deal of flak (mostly from Red), Eric stayed loyal to Donna and their marriage plans, to where finally Red accepted that his son had become a man and gave them his blessing. Donna and Eric prepared to leave Point Place together and go to college in Madison. However, just as they were packing their stuff in the Vista Cruiser, Fez and Laurie announced their marriage so Fez could stay in the country after graduation. Red was so shocked at this, he had a heart attack. As a result of this, Eric had to stay in Point Place and help support the family. Donna ended up putting off going to college in Madison so that she could stay with Eric. Eventually though, their wedding fell through at the end of season six; when Eric, worried that marrying Donna would hold her back, failed to show up for their rehearsal.
After Eric's departure from the show before season eight, it was assumed that they still kept the relationship intact. However, Donna told her friends that Eric had broken up with her in the eighth-season episode "Long Away", when Fez and Jackie suspected that she was cheating on Eric with the new cast character, Randy (Josh Meyers). Donna told them that Eric did this three weeks earlier. There were hints leading up to the breakup when Eric called Kitty but not Donna, even though she was awake at 4 AM waiting for him to call her. Also, when Donna was at the Foremans' for Red and Kitty's 25th anniversary, Eric called his parents and Kitty gave the phone to Donna, but Eric spoke to her only briefly before hanging up, claiming he had to "go teach".
Donna then began dating Randy, seemingly not caring about her long-standing relationship having deteriorated. Donna finally ended it when she believed that things were moving too fast, and that she was substituting Randy for Eric. This was further evidenced when Kitty caught Randy and Donna kissing in Eric's bedroom, and she accused Donna of replacing Eric with Randy, departing from her usual rivalry with Donna over being the main woman in Eric's life.
In the final episode, Eric returns to Point Place for the New Year, and he and Donna kiss. It is presumed that they end up together again at the end of the series and the end of the 1970s.
Character and personality
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Donna resides in the fictional Wisconsin town of Point Place, where she lives with her parents, Midge and Bob Pinciotti. Early in the series, her younger sister, 14-year-old Tina (played by Amanda Fuller), appears in the episode "Eric's Burger Job" but is never seen again, nor do other characters mention her after the first season. At the end of the season 2 episode "Vanstock", this is made fun of when a narrator asks "Whatever happened to Midge's other daughter, Tina?" Donna also had an older sister, Valerie Pinciotti ("Eric's Birthday"). She apparently was in college as revealed by Midge. As Eric is turning 17, Midge shows Kitty a book of poems that helped her "when Valerie went off to school". These are examples of "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" (see Happy Days).
An intelligent, witty teenager with feminist ideals, Donna is outwardly confident and strong, at times to the point of coming across as arrogant, self-righteous, and overconfident. She calls upon these personal qualities to deal with her personal issues, such as her parents' shaky relationship, and the revelation that they conceived her while in high school. She believes that she's had it the hardest out of the gang until Hyde is revealed to have faced most of these problems and not once complained. The characteristics and physical appearance of Donna Pinciotti were actually based on a girl who grew up in the same neighborhood as Mark Brazil in Dunkirk, NY. Donna actually dated Hyde and never was with Eric, AKA Mark Brazil.
Though despite her overly confident attitude, she herself has her own insecurities such as her big feet, her parents' screwed up marriage, and her trust in her relationship with Eric. A prime example of this is in the episode "Eric's Panties." Eric has an attractive girl as his lab partner who has a reputation of being a slut. At first, Donna doesn't really care but she finds panties in his car and genuinely believes that Eric cheated on her. She shows a completely insecure side of herself and is more than prepared to hurt him. They are later revealed to be Midge's panties from when she and Bob had sex in Eric's car.
She has some difficulty expressing her feminine side, because she views traditional feminine traits as restraining and outdated. She dislikes skirts, makeup, and dresses, and insists on wearing jeans at all times, but she will dress nice for special occasions and tried "being pretty" for her prom and for a trip to a nightclub, where the bouncer judged her "foxy". As another exception, after her wedding with Eric was called off, she decided to change her looks and dyed her hair blonde. Jackie Burkhart repeatedly calls Donna a "lumberjack" and a "giant", due to her penchant for plaid shirts and her tall stature. She even described Donna by saying "[She's] nice and all, but she kinda dresses like a trucker". She also teases Donna for her gargantuan feet, calling her "bigfoot" and saying things like Donna's shoes are big enough for Jackie to fit her own shoes into.
Nonetheless, Donna still considers herself feminine, at times becoming insulted when people overlook it. When Kitty Forman needed two people with a "feminine touch" to decorate for Hyde's birthday party, she chose Jackie and Fez. An angry Donna wanted to "kick her ass" for that, insisting "What the hell? I'm feminine! Damnit, why can't anybody freakin see that?!" This suggests that while Donna takes pride in her feminist beliefs, she still considers herself feminine, and simply doesn't want to restrict herself to "girly" activities. In several episodes, she is flattered at being perceived as an object of desire, especially when she becomes "Hot Donna" at a radio station.
Jackie appoints herself as Donna's best friend in the early seasons, often giving her advice that sounds superficial and useless, but often turns out to be unnervingly true. For example, in the Battle of the Sexists episode, Jackie states to Donna that "Eric would never want her [Donna] to be his girlfriend if she kept beating him at everything, especially sports". Jackie genuinely thinks that she's better looking than Donna, ever since their first meeting in junior high, and that Donna is generally not attractive or interesting, yet still thinks Donna could do better than Eric. When angry or annoyed at Donna, Jackie will often refer to her as a "giant" or "Amazon"; when Donna goes blonde, she calls her "blonde tardo". Despite their differences, Donna eventually accepts Jackie and decides to keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble, since Jackie doesn't always show the best common sense, and on more than one occasion, Donna has ridiculed Jackie for her stupidity and small stature, calling her a "midget" or "mosquito".
All five of the boys have harbored sexual feelings toward the attractive Donna. In addition to Eric, three of the others attempted to sleep with her (Kelso attempted to seduce her after a roller disco, Hyde at Jackie's ski-cabin, and Fez impersonating Eric in a Stormtrooper outfit—none of these attempts were successful) and four having romantic interest in her (Eric, Hyde, Casey, and Randy).
Despite many of the guys' obvious attraction to her, she only dated two of the main characters, with Jackie having the most boyfriends within the primary cast. Donna was with Eric for six seasons, and she was hoping they could have been together, but as she says herself: "It was all Eric's fault for taking that stupid job".
In the episode "Good Company", it is revealed through context that Donna's birthday is sometime in January.
- Actress Rosie Marcel portrayed the character in the British version Days Like These.
- "Eric's Burger Job", 27 September 1998