I love Netflix. Perhaps you’ve noticed based on my having watched (and sort-of binged?) both Daredevil and Jessica Jones. They do an excellent job of original programming. The Boy and I are currently watching House of Cards (so close to done! will post about it soon-ish!), there’s Orange is the New Black, Master of None, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt which comes back in a few weeks…to name a few. So last year when Netflix announced that they would be filming a sequel series to one of my favorite series from the early 90s – “Full House” – I got excited. Not super excited, because reunion shows tend to just be cheesy. Granted, the source material was full on Velveeta level of cheesiness already, so the chances of being even harder to handle were minimal.
As a note – from here on out there will be LOTS of spoilers. So if you care about that sort of thing and haven’t watched yet, BEWARE!
And…it was decent? Yes, the first couple episodes seemed more like opportunities for beloved old cast members to walk on stage to raucous applause. For the cast to make pointed comments (in the name of the story?) to make fun of the Olsen twins for deciding not to participate. There was so little plot in the first episode that it was hard to handle. It also took me a couple episodes to figure out that “Fuller House” wasn’t just the title because it’s a sequel-y name…it’s because our main adult DJ married a man whose last name was Fuller. So not only is this Full-er House…it’s the house now occupied by the Fullers. As we might have said in the 90s, “Gag me with a spoon.” And think for a moment – DJ’s full name is DJ Tanner-Fuller. Ugh – not great. Were the writers just so proud of their pun that they couldn’t see the forest for the trees? Maybe… The show also had a tendency towards constant “guest appearances” by the original series adults, which was distracting. And silly. Especially the vow renewal by Jesse and Becky – why were the only people at that ceremony the ones who lived in the house and Joey? That was an awfully pretty (and probably expensive) dress Becky was wearing to only be seen by a handful of people…
One of the reviews I’d read wished that there had been more serious discussion of the difficulties faced by the adult women in the show. DJ is recently widowed, Kimmy is separated/ on the verge of divorce. I think the show tried to communicate the idea that DJ isn’t quite “newly” widowed (it was maybe a year ago? she does have a fairly small baby), and we do see the complications that are faced by Kimmy in being separated – but not divorced – from her husband. But these complications are addressed over the course of the show. I also think it was amazing that they basically came out and said that Stephanie couldn’t have kids, and maybe that was another reason for her moving back to San Francisco to be with her sister and nephews. The moment of honesty between DJ and Stephanie was super emotional, and I totally had a moment watching it when the sisters were there for each other in that difficult revelation.
One of the main story lines for the second half of the “season” is that DJ is dating two men. One being Matt, the hot veterinarian son of the veterinarian she used to work with, and the other being Steve, her high school sweetheart. Kimmy and Stephanie joke that it’s DJ’s version of “The Bachelorette”, and I can see it, but I also think it was totally silly. Yes, it’s possible to date two men…but the fact that it turned into a competition was distracting and unnecessary. And while I love Steve from the original series (and having listened to Scott Weinger who plays him on the Nerdist back just before they started filming this), I’m slightly more team Matt. Though what happens to their business partnership (they took over the pet clinic together) if a relationship goes wrong? Hence…I’m glad DJ “chose herself” in the end. I think she needs someone that is neither Steve nor Matt.
In fact that “choosing yourself” seems to be a theme of the series. DJ seems to have been wallowing and propped up by her family in the time following her husbands death, only to be immediately thrown into a love triangle as soon as she begins to reassert her independence. Kimmy is newly separated, but becomes re-entangled with her ex. Stephanie has to make a choice about whether she’ll continue to be the globe-trotting party girl that she’s been for years, and which it sounds like was a way to mask her pain about not being able to have a family of her own. By the end of the first season, all three ladies have found out that they need to make hard choices, and for now the best choice may be to not be encumbered with a romantic relationship. It’s ok to be on your own – especially when you have good friends and family who can and will support you when needed. So while quite a lot of the season may have made me shake my head, I was pleased with the final message of independence and choosing personal growth instead of defaulting to relying on a man.
Now…it wouldn’t be Full House if there weren’t some cute kids. And overall, they kids do a great job. The babies that play Tommy are friggin’ adorable, and have the most perfectly round heads. The older children do a great job in general, but the story line that was given to the older son (Jackson) unnerved me a smidge. Jackson spends nearly the entire season being sort of stalker-y with Ramona’s friend Lola. I understand it was supposed to be that first puppy love…but it was a little too much for me. And while middle son Max was generally hilarious – having a dapper style and inheriting his grandfather’s desire for cleanliness – his last scene where he asks if Lola has a little sister is creepy. I’m sorry – 7 or 8 year old boys are NOT like that. *shudder*
So. If you look at my review, you might think I didn’t like it. The show has a lot of problems, and is at time super-cringe-worthy and hard to watch. But if you keep in mind that the original Full House was generally the same way, and that we as 20 years-younger versions of ourselves liked it in spite of that…it’s easier to understand. The creators and writers did not reinvent the wheel. They went again for a family-friendly, family-focused show that has some real heart underneath a level of cheese. The whole thing may be completely ridiculous, but as long as you understand that going in…it’s enjoyable, and the kind of thing I could recommend to someone who liked the old show.
Details: Fuller House, streaming on Netflix.