Fuller House





Paul Asay
Emily Clark
Steven Isaac

TV Series Review

Long, long ago, in a trendy San Francisco neighborhood far, far away from most of our income brackets, widowed father of three Danny Tanner invited his brother-in-law, Jesse, and best friend, Joey, to share his home, food and fatherly duties. Together, the three men, the three girls (D.J., Stephanie, Michelle) and the occasional newcomer or neighbor created a quirky family whose bonds would last forever. Or eight seasons in television time, which is pretty much the same thing.

But maybe in this case, television’s familial bonds really do last forever. Because 29 years after Full House’s first episode, the Tanner clan—or, at least, a good chunk of it—came back, this time on Netflix for five more seasons of sentimental setups and corny cracks.

Family Ties

Fuller House locked its front door again in the spring of 2020 after an improbably successful run. But when it arrived on the Netflix docket in 2016, the show quickly became one of the streaming giant’s biggest success story.

Possibly beyond even the reappearance of star John Stamos, it’s the return of outspoken Christian actress Candace Cameron-Bure to her role as D.J. Tanner generated the most buzz at the outset. Certainly that’s true in faith-based circles. In the series, she is the de facto head of the House-hold now—a widowed mom raising three sons: Jackson, Max and Tommy Jr. D.J.’s little sis, Stephanie, has given up her globe-galloping life as a disc jockey (using, naturally, the stage name D.J. Tanner) to chip in around the house. Oh, and longtime exasperating neighbor Kimmy Gibbler moved in, too—along with her daughter, Ramona, and ex-husband/fiancé Fernando. Danny, Stamos’ Uncle Jesse and Joey show up occasionally as well.

The result is a surprisingly 20th-century-feeling sitcom … that’s equally surprisingly filled with 21st-century-style problems.

Cheesy family sitcoms ruled in the late 1980s, and Fuller House comes pretty close to cloning them. It proudly boasts the two-camera format. The perfectly staged house/set. The comfortable rhythm of the setup-punchline, setup-punchline. In today’s Modern Family era of comedy, Fuller House feels charmingly and unusually antiquated. (The only channel that reliably puts out sitcoms like this anymore is Disney.)

But while Fuller House might feel a bit like, say, Good Luck Charlie or Austin & Ally to a traditional-sitcom newcomer, it’s not. And for those who’ve been long anticipating a squeaky-clean reboot of this one-time family fave, get ready for a shock.

Growing Pains

The members of this extended family clearly care about one another, and it’s peppered with micro-inspirational moments that get at both the value of relational bonds as well as doing the right thing. But sex becomes the unexpected center of numerous jokes (from lines about male strippers to masturbation to premarital hookups). And the show plays around with same-sex subjects, too, something that would have been unthinkable back in the heyday of Full House. (Among other scenes, guest star Macy Gray mistakes D.J. and Kimmy for a lesbian couple in the first season’s Episode 3, and Stephanie and Kimmy share a goofy but prolonged full-on lip-lock in Episode 12.)

Mild profanity clutters up the dialogue on occasion. And potty jokes are injected. There are insinuations that Stephanie used or uses drugs. Hard partying and heavy drinking get nods of approval.

All that clutter makes Fuller House feel kinda … empty.

Episode Reviews

June 2, 2020: “Our Very Last Show, Again”

As D.J., Kimmy and Stephanie excitedly prepare for their triple wedding, they also mourn over the fact that they will no longer be living together.

Several couples exchange smooches (including teen couples). Couples slow dance. Some dresses reveal cleavage. There are some jokes about lesbians and a man’s femininity. A woman says she has been married four times.

A superstitious man accidentally sees his bride before their wedding and believes he has enacted a curse. Someone says drinking goat’s blood will break the curse. The wedding pastor backs out of the ceremony at the last minute to officiate a celebrity’s wedding instead.

People drink champagne at a wedding. A woman drinks from a flask.

Feb. 26, 2016 “Our Very First Show, Again”

The gang’s mostly all back. Only Michelle (originally played by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen) is missing. “She’s busy in New York managing her fashion empire,” Danny explains. And then the cast gets busy filling nearly every subsequent minute with some callback to the original—be it a favorite catchphrase, inside joke or a rousing singalong of The Flintstones theme song.

Stephanie tries to give D.J.’s kids—Jackson and Max—flash drives with the “hottest dance music from London.” She immediately takes them back, though, after D.J. says, “I’m sure there are no inappropriate references to sex, drugs or violence in those.” Max says her mother’s concerns are overblown, given that he already knows all the bad words: “darn, booger and Donald Trump.” We also hear “d–n” once, “oh my god” twice, and several euphemisms like “gosh” and “jeez.”

Stephanie wears a top that reveals a great deal of cleavage. “Too much?” she asks D.J. “Oooh, not enough,” D.J. says. Jesse makes a quip about his semen, and talks about his wife’s rear, as well as a night of passion they shared. Kimmy reveals that she used to peer into Danny’s window as a child, and that he doesn’t have anything she hasn’t seen. She jokes about having an “antacid” flashback. Characters drink champagne.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

Steven Isaac

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