I talked about the prevalence of nostalgic reboot TV shows a while back when I talked about Cobra Kai. In that article, I brought up Fuller House, the sequel series to Full House, one of the most loved and ridiculed sitcoms of all time. At the time, it felt like a gender-flipped rehash of its parent series. Those remarks were made when the show had only one season eating up space on people's Netflix queues. Now that the show had come to an end after five seasons (three seasons less that the original show, by the way), it's time that I give my thoughts on how Fuller House turned out.
Before I start, I feel I should give a little background I have with the franchise. (Man, it's so weird referring to this as a franchise...) I was only 8 when Full House showed up on ABC. I already enjoyed sitcoms thanks to shows like Perfect Strangers and Head of the Class. Full House just had that certain something that got me laughing. Joey's (Dave Coulier) Bullwinkle impression didn't work for me, but I enjoyed the physical comedy, especially when the supposed-to-be-suave Jesse (John Stamos) was the victim. I watched the whole series right up to the final bow, even making time with my hectic school schedule. Watching it again on Hulu, a lot of it still holds up.
So, my point is that I can be considered a fan of the original show. I may not be one of those obsessives who could tell when Mary-Kate or Ashley was playing Michelle at any given moment, but I was a fan nonetheless. I was exactly the demographic that Netflix wanted to reach with Fuller House. However, if I wanted to be generous, the first season would score a three out of ten. People remarked about the rather suggestive jokes that showed up and seemed out of place, especially the cracks about how Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) has... ahem... grown. However, the early seasons of the original show had stuff like that, too, most of which was edited out when the show went into syndication.
For me, the first season had two recurring problems that nearly sank the whole show. First is that the show tried WAY too hard to bank on nostalgia. From having the original trio taking screentime away from D.J.'s (Candace Cameron Bure) kids to the constant jabs at the M.I.A. Michelle (including a painful fourth-wall break), the show kept trying to be a Full House reunion special rather than its own thing. That leads into the second serious problem with the first season, the attempts to stick to the old formula. The first season largely used the find-and-replace function for plotlines, swapping D.J. for Danny (Bob Saget), Stephanie for Jesse, and Kimmy (Andrea Barber) for Joey. The attempts to push catchphrases (which were extremely common in the parent show) were blatant and irritating. I could forgive D.J. saying, "Oh, Mylanta!" since, apparently, Candace says that in real life. However, D.J.'s middle son Max (Elias Harger) saying, "Holy chalupas!" was one of the worst attempts I've ever heard. By the way, the kids were very one-note, but D.J. and Stephanie were like that in the first season of the original show, too. The only really likeable character in the first season was Kimmy's daughter Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas). Her down-to-Earth personality contrasted nicely with her still-exceptionally-weird mother.
Fortunately, starting with the second season, the show improved significantly. Kimmy's ex-husband Fernando (Juan Pablo Di Pace) got me laughing plenty with his over-the-top narcissism. One of the best new characters was Kimmy's little brother Jimmy (Adam Hagenbuch) who, while being dim even by Kimmy's standards, stays very likeable and has absolutely wonderful chemistry with Stephanie. There's even some fun deconstruction of the franchise's cliches thanks to Rocki (Landry Bender), the primary love interest for D.J.'s oldest son Jackson (Michael Campion), who doesn't hesitate to crack wise about the constant hugging and catchphrases. The show also had some more consistent plotlines and themes than the parent show did. Making Max and Fernando friendly rivals provided some of the show's funniest moments. While the love triangle the show forced for D.J., her co-worker Matt (John Brotherton), and her returning ex-boyfriend Steve (Scott Weinger) may have sucked, the time D.J. and Steve spent rediscovering each other felt mostly natural.
I say "mostly natural" because, over the course of the show, the implausible absurdity that stayed mild in the original show got cranked up to ridiculous levels. When would the original show have featured a Bollywood-style flash mob? Never. Yet, Fuller House had two in the final season alone! D.J. going into a wrestling ring to appease her son and Stephanie sampling Max's trombone-playing while deejaying at Coachella were too ridiculous for Full House. Things like that would've been too much for Family Matters, and that was the show where Steve Urkel built a teleporter and turned himself into Bruce Lee! I swear, Ramona getting involved with a J-Pop idol was one of the most believable moments of the show! However, to be honest, I enjoyed it more the kookier it got! If you can REALLY suspend your disbelief, you can have fun with the later seasons.
Overall, I'm glad I saw Fuller House. I can understand if even the most die-hard Full House fans gave up after the very bad first season, but the show became more ridiculous and more enjoyable as it went along. I'm almost sad that it ended after just five seasons. If they went for six, maybe Jackson and Max would've built evil clones or something equally bonkers. As it stands, those who miss the familiar cheese of the original or can't stand the truly absurd shouldn't bother. However, if you just want to get some quick laughs, you can certainly do worse. True, the show only progressed from a 3/10 to a 7/10 by the end, but that's still progress.
What do you think? Disgusted by my thoughts on these shows? Let me know. The door's always open!