Fez (That '70s Show)
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|That '70s Show character|
"That '70s Pilot"|
"That '70s Finale"|
|Created by||Mark Brazill|
|Portrayed by||Wilmer Valderrama|
|Nickname(s)||The Foreign Kid, The Foreigner,|
Foto Hut clerk (formerly)|
DMV clerk (formerly)
Shampoo boy (currently)
Rebecca Erdman (Host Mother)|
Matthew Erdman (Host Father)
|Spouse(s)||Laurie Forman (ex-wife)|
Big Rhonda (ex-girlfriend)
Jackie Burkhart (girlfriend)
Fez is a fictional character and one of the four male leads on the Fox Network's That '70s Show, portrayed by Wilmer Valderrama. He was the foreign exchange student in a group of six local teenagers.
Fez was born on August 4, 1960. His real name is deemed unpronounceable by his friends, so they call him "Fez". Red usually calls him "the foreign kid", or by a random foreign (or Native American) name through various backgrounds (e.g., Hadji, Tonto, Anwar, Sabu, Muhammad Ali, Ali Baba, Pelé, Ahmad, Tutankhamun, etc.), which Fez does not mind, with one exception: he hates being called Tarzan because Tarzan is a white man. Eric's grandmother calls him "Desi".
A flashback episode shows when Fez first meets the others. They rescue him from a janitor's closet where several bullies have hung him on a coat hook. The bullies had asked him if he wanted to hang out; he tells the group he "shouldn't have said yes". Moments later, he states his real name, which is drowned out by a long, ringing school bell (what Valderrama was actually saying was the first names of the main actors who appear in the show), after which Hyde (hearing the name) says "OK... I'm not going to remember that." The only known fact about his name is, as he states in the episode "Killer Queen", the first five K's of his last name are silent. His name has no consonants, only vowels.
Valderrama has stated that he fabricated the accent he used on the show so that no one could identify which country his character is from, a mystery the show creators deliberately kept a secret.
Fez's secret country of origin is one of the longest running gags on the show. Through all eight seasons, Fez's nationality remains a mystery, even to his closest friends, and the continual hints and clues Fez drops about his country only leave them more confused. In the episode "Eric's Birthday," Kitty, fantasizing about Eric's friends causing trouble, imagines Fez saying, "in my home country of...wherever it is I'm from; I can never tell..." Much is revealed in the episode "Love of My Life," where one of Fez's compatriots (played by Justin Long) comes for a visit. In the first teaser, when his friend suggests that he goes home, he says "Yes, I will go to Brazil...and then catch a flight home." In the final teaser, when Hyde finally asks them, "Where the hell are you guys from?", his friend says that the name depends on whether you ask the British or the Dutch. But the British won't say it, Fez explains, because they hate the island, and no one understands a word the Dutch say. The friend has a heavy English accent; Fez's explanation to this is that his friend is from the west side of the island. We also see throughout the show that Fez almost says where he is from but then stops right before he says it.
Fez is often assumed to be of Hispanic or Latino descent; it is never revealed if this is so, though earlier episodes, such as "Sunday, Bloody Sunday," imply he can speak Spanish. In "Eric's Burger Job," during a job interview at Fatso Burger, Fez claims he can speak Dutch. In "The Immigrant Song," Fez retells his catch phrase ("I said good day!") in his native tongue, which sounds like gibberish.
Initially burdened by cultural barriers, Fez is fascinated by American life and thinks the knowledge he gains from America makes him superior to other people from his island. In an early episode, he suggests he would one day return to his home country "and rule with an iron fist." Fez is openly regarded as weird by his friends. He exhibits a creepy side, which manifests itself in Fez spying on Kelso and Eric when they are making out with their girlfriends (with Kelso even allowing him to do so). More than once he is caught hiding in Donna's closet, and towards the end of the series she doesn't even bother to kick him out because it happens so much. He frequently complains about being lonely and love-starved.
Later on, Fez develops metrosexual habits, appreciating stylish clothes and at times appearing vain and narcissistic about his looks. He shares an antagonistic relationship with his landlord Fenton (played by Jim Rash) because of a previous dispute over what Fez described as "a pair of pants that made my butt look like an oil painting." Fez shows off his superior dancing skills in numerous episodes.
Fez worked at DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) from season 5 to season 7, there he met Nina his short stint girlfriend. With Nina, Fez managed to lose his virginity. Fez continued to work there after finishing school and being granted a green card. In season 7 he chose to quit and work at a local salon as shampoo boy, where he stayed until the finale.
- Mastro, Dana. and Morawitz, Elizabeth. Latino Representation on Primetime Television: A Content Analysis, Section Stereotypes of Latinos, pp. 7.
- Thanu Yakupitiyage Battling or Creating Stereotypes in ‘Aliens in America’?, October 19, 2007, Racewire.
- Ben Megargel Reality spin-off falls into familiar traps, The Michigan Daily, February 6, 2007.