FULLER HOUSE TV REVIEW
(Minor Spoilers Below)
Fuller House premiered on Netflix this morning after months of promotion. And with a number of bad reviews popping up left and right, I wanted to see what would warrant ratings like “F” as seen on EW (the rating they give the premiere). Personally, I’ve been looking forward to the show, if only for nostalgic reasons and couldn’t understand all the critical negativity. But then, Full House was never a series for cynics or anyone expecting to watch an artistic, button pushing sitcom.
I grew up watching Full House and TGIF and many of the other fun ‘80s and ‘90s programs. And being the exact same age as Stephanie – Jodie Sweetin (yep, I just aged myself) as well as being admittedly sentimental as an L.M. Montgomery character, I was counting down the days till the premiere. I enjoy optimistic, cheesy shows with positive messages. And that’s exactly what Fuller House is: a light-hearted series paying tribute to the family sitcoms of the past while winking at the self-absorbed stereotypes of today. In short, if you didn’t enjoy Full House, then you certainly won’t appreciate Fuller House. However, if you were a fan of the show and all its preachy happiness then you should love the sequel. I know I did. You may even hear some “violins” when the characters all hug.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the premise of Fuller House picks up 21 years after the last episode of Full House. Danny is selling the house because he’s moving to LA to do a national TV Show with Becky, “Wakeup USA.” Everyone reunites to say goodbye to the old house before they leave and put the house up for sale. D.J. is a widow and a veterinarian with three young boys, Stephanie is a DJ (yes, she goes by DJ Tanner) who’s been living in London and traveling the world, Michelle (who is not in the series) is off running her Fashion Empire, Jesse is still doing music and Joey lives in Vegas doing comedy. Then, of course, comes D.J.’s best friend Kimmy who is a single mom as well as an event planner. D.J.’s ex-boyfriend Steve is also in the new show. And yes, Steve and D.J. fans – he’s single!
As the premiere continues, the family realize that D.J. is overwhelmed with everyone leaving. D.J. doesn’t know how she’s going to do it on her own. So they decide to all step up. Danny’s not going to sell the house – rather he’s going to let D.J. and her three boys live there. Stephanie and Kimmy then agree to move in to help D.J. out, everything coming full circle. The premise of Fuller House then follows D.J., Stephanie and Kimmy (similar to that of the original series) as they strive to be a new type of family taking care of the kids and each other. Characters like Danny, Becky, Jesse and Joey only appear in some of the episodes as this is still a new series with a new focus.
However, the new kids have similar dynamics to the past – with one major addition. That of Ramona, Kimmy’s teenage daughter. No doubt, the relationship between Ramona and Jackson (D.J.’s oldest) will become something similar to another TGIF series – Step By Step. If anyone remembers the step brother and step sister relationship between Dana and JT, then you’ll know what to expect with these two.
While Fuller House may be able to attract a new audience with the new premise, it is definitely meant for those of us who watched the original. What Fuller House does successfully, is remind us of our own families and growing up. What was life like in the ‘80s and ‘90s? Where were we when we last saw these characters on television in 1995? Where are we now? There’s an element of truth in Fuller House, which surprisingly moved me a little. If Full House is an idealized version of a time now gone then Fuller House is an idealized version of those of us today who miss the past. So, if you’re someone who likes looking at photo albums and watching home videos, Fuller House is a nice treat and not as horrific as many critics are calling it. Fuller House feels like a family reunion because it is one. Yet, we still have to live in the now, which is what Fuller House does, starting with episode two.
If Full House is an idealized version of a time now gone then Fuller House is an idealized version of those of us today who miss the past. So, if you’re someone who likes looking at photo albums and watching home videos, Fuller House is a nice treat and not as horrific as many critics are calling it.
Despite being fun and bright, there are elements of sadness to the premiere. D.J. has lost her fire-fighting husband, Kimmy’s separated from her husband who has been cheating on her and the “adults” are all moving away. Still, the characters manage to remain optimistic in the face of hardship.
From a critical standpoint, the Fuller House premiere is wonderful for fans of the original series despite having some flaws to smooth out in the future. And yes, even with all my nostalgic gushing, Fuller House has some definite room for improvement. Some of the gags could be funnier, the writing tighter, etc…But overall, Fuller House remains true to the spirit of the original and succeeds in what it’s trying to do.
What was great about the premiere, in fact, was the constant breaking of the Fourth Wall. The series is incredibly meta with winks to the old show, which gives the series a stronger sentimental feel. I was also surprised how much I “felt” in the first minute of Fuller House when the familiar intro song started. And then seeing the video clips of the cast then and now was very effective. And man (as Uncle Jesse says) do they all look good! Even Nicky and Alex make an appearance all grown up.
There are quite a few funny scenes as well. I especially laughed at the interactions between Kimmy and Danny – who still have a little bit of a love/hate, father/daughter like relationship. In fact, I have to give props to Andrea Barber who jumps back into the character with relative ease and who also has a very natural affinity for comedy. Everyone actually does quite well as their characters despite the long absence. Nothing feels inauthentic and the warmth between the cast translates onto the screen. The chemistry is definitely still there!
One of my favorite scenes was the singing of “Forever,” Jesse’s wedding song for Becky. The family sings together and as cheesy as it was, I loved it.
As far as the romance goes, Uncle Jesse and Becky are still as strong as ever. Danny is married to a younger woman who loves his obsession with cleaning (this was the oddest move of the series, in my opinion). And then there’s D.J. and Steve. We’ll have to wait and see how the full season progresses in relation to those two. For now, I’ve only watched the first two episodes. But I’ll update this review as soon as I finish watching the first season. There does need to be an appropriate amount of time for D.J. to grieve her husband.
No doubt, Fuller House is not for everyone. I can imagine the series will cause quite a few to roll their eyes. But they’re not the intended audience. So while Fuller House likely won’t win any awards or be a critical darling, it is a nice escapist series for anyone looking for a wholesome, optimistic show to watch. And like Girl Meets World, I do think this one will be able to stand on its own two feet after working out the kinks and finding the chemistry with the new kids.
I also believe shows like Fuller House are necessary to balance out the type of original content available on streaming sites. The changing television market has opened many doors but it’s important to remember that there is a lot of diversity in people who are watching. And, unfortunately, most streaming shows are TV-M with explicit content simply because they can be. However, not everyone is interested in watching graphic shows. There still needs to be a variety of content available if streaming is to be the wave of the future. Fuller House offers a little bit of that variety.
In all, despite an imperfect start, Fuller House is an enjoyable series (especially for fans of the original) and I can’t wait to finish watching the rest of the season. Here’s to hoping for a season two.
Have you seen the premiere of Fuller House? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!
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