Fuller House offers never-ending nostalgia and little else
“Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV …”
Predictability stars once again in Fuller House, a sequel to the 1990s hit Full House, and that just about sums it up. The reboot, released Friday on streaming service Netflix, is set 29 years after the first show. It’s full of parallel story lines about a widowed single parent trying to do the best she can with the help of “clueless” aunts and uncles, but this version has a few new hardships, like infertility and divorce. Candace Cameron Bure, actor Kirk Cameron’s sister, stars in the show as a grown-up D.J. Tanner, who moves back into her childhood home with three sons.
Pure curiosity is part of the show’s appeal. What do the characters look like now? (Pretty great, except for Bob Sagat). How about the house? (About the same but updated—with a killer new backsplash in the kitchen). And the No. 1 question on everyone’s mind: Where are Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, who together played the “baby” of the Tanner family, Michelle? Apparently the Olsen twins declined to participate in the new show, and the producers certainly don’t let them off the hook for it. The show includes several self-referential jokes and pointed comments about Michelle’s absence, like when one character buys a dress supposedly from the Mary Kate and Ashley label and comments, “At these prices, no wonder they don’t need to act anymore.”
Nostalgia sells, and this show is clearly aimed at millennials who watched Full House as kids and now have kids of their own, just like D.J. It’s great fun to see the cast together again, but it also feels a little uncomfortable, like staying in your old bedroom and feeling yourself regressing. Unfortunately, critics hate it, and it’s also a lot raunchier. Netflix rated it TV-G (safe for little kids), but jokes about sex, drugs, and body parts abound. As one reviewer noted, “It’s just Full House with an added naughtiness, even though the whole point of Full House was that it resisted naughtiness.”
All in all, Fuller House would have been better as a two-hour movie (maybe another Disney reunion?) than a six-hour binge-watching experience. The nostalgic euphoria doesn’t last past the first couple of episodes, and from then on, it’s exactly the kind of cotton candy you’d expect.
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