On Friday, the first season of the Full House spinoff Fuller House will be available on Netflix. As a member of the media, I’m pretty sure I could've gotten early access, but as an egalitarian, I’d rather wait and join hands with everyone else as we plunge into a tepid pool of family fun. Jerky journalists who’ve exploited their status as critics have already watched and digested the episodes — and it sounds as if they aren’t liking what they’re seeing.
To make sure we’re all caught up, Fuller House is a comedy program about the grown-up children from the '80s-'90s ABC sitcom Full House. Eldest daughter Donna Jo Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) grew up, had three kids and was rewarded for her feminine toil by having her husband croak. Because it takes a village, Deej's li'l sis Stephanie Judith Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) and old pal Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) move into the multimillion-dollar painted lady that Wake Up, San Francisco built.
I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode of Full House and not because it's a good show. OK, once upon a time, when the TGIF lineup (Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers) was a sleepover staple, I probably thought it was good. I also thought it was a good idea to eat so many M&Ms that I'd spontaneously barf into my hands and my mom would have to come pick me up. True story.
Re-reruns of the show have been in syndication seemingly since the minute its final episodes aired in 1995, so we've all had plenty of opportunity to watch and re-watch and evaluate why we keep watching a show that was made for children with small brains. Nostalgia is part of the equation, but for me it has more to do with the phenomenon of enjoying things I find a little bit gross. For instance, I went through a phase where I watched 30-Minute Meals with Rachael Ray, like, constantly because I thought she was so annoying. I've also seen nearly every episode of the late ABC Family sitcom Melissa & Joey (a Who's the Boss ripoff starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence) because it's a family show that attempts edginess via double entendre and less subversive ribaldry — it's one long, unfunny sex joke and it sends chills down my spine and I love it. The approach toward shows like it and Full House serves as the foundation for modern anti-comedy.
I thought this was all universally accepted, but then these really earnest negative reviews of Fuller House started being published. From the Boston Herald:
As with the original, the newcomers have been given the same director’s note: Mug shamelessly for the camera, no matter the situation or the line.
For an alleged family show, there’s a surprising amount of sexual innuendo. Steph and Kimmy banter over a couple of episodes about being sister wives.
“I was up all night erupting my volcano,” [DJ's son] Jackson says in episode four.
Sorry, but this sounds great.
In my favorite review so far, Deadline.com's Dominic Patten refers to the spinoff as a “Potemkin Village,” perhaps the most egregious over-intellectualization of a Jeff Franklin show ever. Patten says the first episode is kind of good because it features the adults from the original cast: Bob Saget, John Stamos, Dave Coulier, Lori Loughlin. But, he continues …
Once the grown-ups of the original cast split, there’s only any there there in this sequel of sorts for the most die-hard of Full House fans. Maybe we know now why the Olsen twins decided to not participate. And it’s a real shame, because Fuller House starts off so well, with almost everyone else from Full House on board and back in that Bay Area home.
If what Patten says is true and the OG adults are redemptive, then good riddance. I'm pretty sure I'd qualify as a “die-hard” fan and I want Bure and co. driving this train off the rails so I can get my jollies.