The Netflix reboot of Full House, cleverly named Fuller House, launched on Friday and has garnered some of the most scathing reviews in recent memory.
“The first four minutes of ‘Fuller House’ are four of the most excruciating TV minutes ever broadcast; shrill, garish, unfunny, and further poisoned by the live audience’s baffling apparent appetite to hear the catchphrases of the show repeated now, in modernity.” – Margaret Lyons, Vulture
“There’s no reason for ‘Fuller House’ to exist, except to feed into the constant nostalgia loop in which we seem to be stuck.” – Molly Eichel, Philadelphia Enquirer
Those are just two of many, but as I read these reviews it occurred to me – these people probably weren’t fans of the original. They probably don’t understand the importance TGIF comedies had to a generation of kids, basically making their opinions obsolete. I, on the other hand did watch and love Full House, and while I was never in favour of this reboot I watched with an open mind.
So here it is, my honest review of Fuller House, from a true TGIF kid.
The Fuller House pilot (can it be called a pilot? I don’t know.) entitled “Our Very First Show, Again” opens with the original theme, original credit sequence and then against the familiar San Francisco house the words “29 years later……. ” fade in.
We find ourselves in an updated version of the Tanner family kitchen as the adult actors start making their entrances to thunderous applause from the studio audience. Within seconds we are greeted with catchphrases galore, Bugs Bunny pyjamas, and of course a reference to where Michelle is. (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen both declined to be apart of the series.) “She’s busy in New York running her fashion empire”. Cue every actor breaking the fourth wall, turning to the audience, and giving a “thanks for nothing, girls” look. And it is in that moment Fuller House becomes the worst thing I’ve ever watched.
The audience quickly learns that the gender roles have reversed and this time around it’s DJ who is the widow trying to raise three boys, Stephanie is the perpetual party girl, and Kimmy Gibbler still lives near by. Follow that up with the introductions of the new precocious tykes, an old boyfriend, and of course – the dog. A dog they named Comet Jr. ARE.YOU.KIDDING.ME!!?
The remaining twenty minutes continue to harken back to days gone by, with old songs (“Forever”, Jessie and Becky’s wedding song), routines (the fucking Woodchuck is back!), and culminating in Comet Jr having babies…. just like the original. All of this leads me to wonder how long it took Jeff Franklin (the creator of the original and who is overseeing this hell hash.) to “write” this episode. Five minutes? Ten? Cutting and pasting is hard work, so perhaps fifteen.
While there is nothing wrong with a show referencing moments from it’s past, there is something wrong with trying to pass off thinly veiled laziness as self referential nostalgia. Are we really supposed to believe that a nearly fourty year old Stephanie is still saying “How Rude!”, or that Joey is playing Vegas with that Goddamn Woodchuck!!!? (Seriously I hate that fucking Woodchuck!) Come on guys, we’re not this stupid. You, on the other hand, are this lazy. And that is the problem.
It can be easily said Full House itself was neither ground breaking nor original in it’s day, but the show’s intentions were authentic. It was a happy family sitcom, and you got what you expected. Fuller House though, is a bastardization of all things the original set out to be. It’s not cheesy, fun or endearing. The comfort food feeling you got with Full House is now replaced with cynical jokes about the size of Jodie Sweetin’s boobs, even more slights at Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, and brilliant exchanges like below.
“Isn’t it kinda sad when they drag out the old cast for some lame reunion show?”
“Not when the show is adored by millions, and the stars are beloved cultural icons.”
Yup, that actually happens. Talk about meta overload, and trust me it doesn’t end there. Subsequent episodes are filled with such witty dialogue and horrible attempts to be clever, and with every “Have Mercy” uttered or terrible wink and nod to the camera a part of my childhood dies. I don’t see Fuller House being the next chapter to a show loved by millions, but as a cash cow for has-beens desperately trying to stay relevant. And nothing is more sad.
Despite all the faults and depressing moments of despair, there is a shining spot of hope with Fuller House – the young actors. Michael Campion, who plays DJ’s eldest son Jackson, is a particular stand out. He has great comedic timing and his talent and ease in front of the camera is apparent from his first line. I only hope he can find a project that properly reflects his talents very soon.
But even Campion’s performance can’t rescue Fuller House from itself, which is a shame. Not for the makers of the show, but for the fans. The fans who rallied behind this idea when it was announced last year, the fans that watched and shared the teaser trailers, and the fans who are not going to get what they are expecting – half an hour of smaltzy Tanner née Fuller hugs and fun.
If the creators and actors wanted to treat us to Tanner 2.0 they would have been better off doing a one off special. An hour or two of them reminiscing about episodes and moments would have been a better tribute to a beloved show and it’s fan base than this absolute pile of Comet Jr dog shit.
Trust me guys, if you want to go back to San Francisco – order a pizza and watch Stephanie drive the car through the kitchen. You’ll enjoy that trip down memory lane much more.