While the series relies on many of the same beats as the original, it hits the right notes with "DJ" Stephanie.
Fuller HouseCast: Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber, Michael Campion, Elias Harger, Soni Bringas
It's late on a Friday night, somewhere between midnight and three am, when all one wants to do is watch Netflix. That's when Fuller House, the follow-up series to the '90s TGIF mainstay, seems most appealing. Seeking out a mind-quitting, comfort-blanket type of show to unwind from a busy week? Who better to spend the wee hours of late night with than your favorite TV family? Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) still makes you swoon. You've a different take on Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) since you binge watched Entourage and watched some Bob Saget stand-up. Joey's (Dave Coulier) impressions are just as charming as ever. And just like that, it’s childhood again and you’re home.
The original Full House sought solutions for how to live in a time that’s constantly changing. Even the theme song asked, "what ever happened to the milkman, the paperboy and evening TV?" Of course, the times keep changing. Nowadays, the milkman’s been replaced by Amazon Fresh, the paperboy is a notification from your New York Times app telling you to read today’s top stories, and evening TV left us with the invention of DVR and, ironically, Netflix.
Yet, Netflix's original series, Fuller House, asks the same questions, with a new cast seeking answers. Gone are the days of Uncle Jesse, Danny, and Joey; they've been replaced by the now adult versions of the original younger family members, including recently widowed DJ [Tanner] Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure), Aunt Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and BFF and neighbor, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber).
Fuller House, like its predecessor, seeks to be smart, funny, heart-warming, and uplifting; the show wasn't modernized enough to match today’s TV comedy titans like Modern Family in terms of social relevance. The only updated references are those to things such as online dating, cell phones, and the introduction of the new "DJ" Tanner: Stephanie Tanner, the disc jockey. Yet, this family can certainly be defined as some form of a "modern" family; they utilize their entire proverbial village to raise three kids, creating a new normal.
While it's true that Fuller House went for cheap gags, bad jokes, and overacting child actors to fill the air, that's not what long-time fans necessarily tuned in for. The Tanners were the family you never had or always wanted. Fans wanted to see how they turned out and who the characters became; they've crafted a female-led comedy about managing their families, friends, and assorted love lives. The show could've been a mix of Girls and Modern Family, with a sprinkling of the original Full House's heart-warming hilarity we fell for in the '90s. (It isn't.) Yet, that Victorian house in San Francisco belonged as much to the audience as it did to the characters who inhabited. In that respect, it still does.
Jodie Sweetin, as Stephanie Tanner, played the part of middle kid reasonably well in the original series. Never the center of attention as the youngest, or and never part of all the "firsts" in life as the oldest. Honestly, she was one of the weaker characters in the original series because her character partook in very few personal milestones. Fuller House, however, makes better use of the character; she’s given the most modern and interesting storyline. Now in her mid-30s, Stephanie isn't and hasn't been married, has a career as a DJ and singer, and has more stamps in her passport than dollars in her bank account.
In many ways, Fuller House has crafted Stephanie as the quintessential millennial -- actually the only millennial on the show; she's the closest in age to the series' intended viewers. She's not interested in settling down any time soon. She's not seeking out a career to make money, just one that'll make her happy. And, like the majority of millennials, she's moving back in with family, although her reason for doing so is slightly less common than the typical post-college return-to-the-nest: she decides to move in with her sister DJ and DJ's three kids to be the best version of Aunt Stephanie she can be. She, of course, gets advice from Uncle Jesse along the way, but the experience essentially redefines her.
Like Uncle Jesse before her, she now takes the place as family bohemian. Drifting from one place to the next, always full of worldly insight. Uncle Jesse did settle down with his love, Becky (Lori Loughlin) by the end of the series, but I don’t think this step is currently in Stephanie’s plans. She's living in the moment, just the way she likes it. To anyone who has a problem with that, I'm sure she'd say, "How rude!"
Stephanie "DJ" Tanner is a vision closer to what was expected from the series: a more honest portrayal of who these characters grew up to be, not which character mold they fit best from the original series. Straying from the structure of the original, and even breaking some sitcom standards, could set the series apart from its predecessor. For season two, one hopes that the characters continue to mature, but not lose their senses humor (well, their well-written humor at least).
Despite both the original and the rebooted series' flaws, it's easy to feel as though these characters are close, no-longer-lost friends. So, whether it’s late on a Friday or a lounge-day Sunday, there’s still a place "with somebody who needs you… everywhere you look".