Monday, March 7, 2016

Fuller House: Wallow in Nostalgia

Now that the Oscars are over, I'm back to binge watching decidedly less prestigious fare. And the thing I was most excited to see was Fuller House, Netflix's reboot of family sitcom, Full House. As someone who loved the original show, this reboot was tailor-made for me, an unabashed distillation of all the corny one-liners, parent-child drama, and hugs that made the original such a saccharine delight.

The show picks up 20 years from where we left off, and now, instead of Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) starring as the widower who has to raise three daughters on his own, his eldest daughter, DJ (Candace Cameron Bure), is back in the family home as a widow who has to take care of her three sons. While Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier), and Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin) all put in an appearance in the pilot episode, the ones who are going to stay to help DJ in her time of need (or at least for the next thirteen episodes) are her sister, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and best friend, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), who incidentally has a daughter, Ramona (Soni Nicole Bringas), and an estranged Argentinian husband, Fernando (Juan Pablo Di Pace). It is a neat way to flip the series around, while essentially keeping the premise exactly the same as it was twenty years ago.

The pilot episode is as corny as can be, featuring cameos from all the regulars, some singing, and a lot of heartfelt hugging. However, once the show's done paying lip service to its origins, it sets off to carve out a new path, and the result is rather joyful. The jokes are allowed to be a tad more risque (by which I mean they are more PG than G) and the writers don't shy away from a lot of meta commentary and self-referential humor. The only people who would watch this show are the ones who watched the original, so the more jokes you can make about the absence of the Olsen twins the better.

The updated theme tune by Carly Rae Jepsen is a nice touch, and the title cards are a wonderful homage to the original show while serving as a shocking reminder of how grown-up every one has gotten (except John Stamos who hasn't aged a day). The writing is not great and some episodes do make you cringe, but I genuinely did enjoy some episodes that featured mix-ups and misunderstandings galore. DJ's love triangle is a fun addition, and it's charming to see her and Steve (Scott Weinger) still sharing their romantic chemistry years after they went to prom. Most importantly, the house hasn't changed one bit, and it is amazing to return to the familiar rooms and backyard where we watched the Tanners live out their lives for eight years.

Fuller House is not haute cuisine. But it is a warm dollop of comfort food, a serving of nostalgia that sates the little corner of your heart that missed your childhood TV family. To me, Full House was one of a series of shows that introduced me to America and gave me some idea of what to expect when I moved here. Of course, the Americans I encountered in real life were nothing like the Tanners, but it was still nice to turn on the TV every Friday and watch the adventures of this bizarre family who got into all kinds of scrapes but ended every episode with a hug. If Full House meant something to you in your childhood, Fuller House will continue to mean something to you in your adulthood. The show's theme song begins, "What ever happened to predictability?" Therefore, it is little wonder that if you're a fan of the show, you are happy to embrace the return of its predictability and see your "old familiar friends, waiting just around the bend."

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