Was it schmaltzy and stereotypical? Yes.
Did the jokes get worse as the show went on? Yep.
Did it shamelessly recycle plots from its predecessor? Hell yes.
Has anything really changed it all in this show’s universe in the last 21 years? Not really.
So why is anyone watching it? And, more importantly, why was I giggling like a little girl for most of it?
Because, my friends, love is blind, deaf, and sometimes a little dumb.
Let’s face it, we all loved Full House, whether we admit it or not. But not because it was groundbreaking TV that challenged you or made you think. That was Boy Meets World’s job. We loved Full House because it was a way to escape. For 30 minutes every week, the world seemed simpler, nicer, and a whole lot cleaner, thanks to Danny Tanner going psycho with a dust mop. And let’s face it, it was hard not to be endeared by these characters. Stephanie was the cute younger sister when the show opened, a role that was gradually assumed by Michelle as the Olsen Twins grew up. DJ, the older sister, had a charming wholesomeness about her. Then you had Danny, the loving OCD father, Uncle Jesse, the motorcycle-riding rock star, and Joey, the silly comedian. What’s not to love?
Fuller House has a lot of the same archetypes, except gender-flipped. DJ plays the loving mother, Stephanie the party girl rock star, and DJ’s best friend Kimmy Gibbler assumes the Joey role. Kimmy was actually one of my favorite parts of the new show, as they made her sillier with less emphasis on the weirdness that made her character a little off-putting in the original show. The comedy was also a little more versatile, with just a tad more willingness to “go there” where it wouldn’t have before (jokes about Stephanie’s immense cleavage, for instance). The evolution of Stephanie’s character was also interesting, and provided the show with one of its few genuinely emotional moments when she reveals that she is infertile.
DJ’s ex-boyfriend Steve Hale is also a recurring character, and the love triangle between him and DJ’s co-worker Matt Harmon is handled exactly as awkwardly as you think. In a move that will annoy any Full House fan, I actually found myself rooting for Matt by the end, as Steve’s attempts to win back DJ’s heart just seemed a little pitiful. The new child actors also do a decent job. My favorite was probably Max, played by Elias Harger, who had some of that 1987-era Stephanie Tanner charm mixed with Danny’s OCD tendencies.
As I allude to above, though, all the flaws of the original show are very much still there, but give credit to Fuller House’s showrunners. They knew exactly what show they had to make. You can see this by comparing it to Girl Meets World, that other high-profile 90s revival. It’s clear that Girl Meets World is focused on attracting a new generation of fans, with the kids getting most of the a-plots in the episodes and the adults playing supporting roles. While they bring back plenty of stars from Boy Meets World, and have enough callbacks to keep the old fans happy, they are fairly judicious in their approach to that (though the recently-released opening sequence of the third season breaks that rule a bit).
Fuller House, on the other hand, makes it abundantly clear from the start that this show is nothing more than a giant nostalgia trip, right down to Carly Rae Jepsen remixing the original theme song, “Everywhere You Look.” Their opening sequence is chock-full of flashbacks, and almost every episode brings back at least one of the characters from Full House. The adults get most of the a-plots as well, with the show focusing on DJ’s juggling work, three kids, and a social life. It’s as if the show’s creators are saying, “We are making this for the old fans, and if you don’t like it, we don’t particularly care.” To its credit, the show was able to poke fun at itself. Jesse makes a funny joke about the schmaltzy music that plays during Full House’s resolutions, a device that Fuller House thankfully abandoned.
All this boils down to one conclusion: if you thought Full House was corny, don’t watch Fuller House. But if you liked escaping into the world of the Tanners as I did, you might get a few laughs out of it.