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Step into the Salon: Figuring out if 'Full House' is still full of appeal

ABC

By Kelly Etz, Daily TV/New Media Editor
and Anna Sadovskaya, Assistant Arts Editor
Published November 8, 2012

I’m preparing for a lot of flack from saying this, but I hated “Full House.” I know, I know. It was an American staple! A lovable, ensemble sitcom still in syndication today! John Stamos!

But what did “Full House” really bring to the table? It wasn’t as smart or as “fresh” as “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” nor did it have the comedy of “Fraiser,” the relevance of “Ally McBeal” or the timelessness of “Friends.” Sure, when it premiered in 1987, it might have been exciting and hilarious, but why on earth did it last through eight seasons? And why (why?) does it still air on cable 25 years later? Am I missing something here?

Shouldn’t “Full House” be one of those throw-away sitcoms that nobody really remembers, like “Empty Nest” or “News Radio?” But people still can’t get over this “Full House” fetish. Maybe the series was popular because it came off as “real” — just a normal all-American family going about their business — but is that all “Full House” had to say? In a word: yes. Basically, the eight seasons run like one overblown, preachy after-school special after the other.

Maybe it’s my personal opinion rearing its ugly head here, but I just don’t see the appeal. Sure, Mary-Kate and Ashley were darn cute and family dynamics are always fun to explore, but that’s all I’m getting from “Full House.” It doesn’t inspire re-watching; I hardly laughed the first time. I’m just not emotionally invested in this thing, but somebody must have been to keep it going for nearly 10 years.

And “Freaks and Geeks” only got one season?

It could just be the time period — the early ’90s, when TV really hadn’t started to push against boundaries the same way it does so well now. There wasn’t a bevy of shows vying to “push the envelope.” But still, we had “The Cosby Show” and way before that, “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” series that pushed back in huge ways. But “Full House” wasn’t really trying. And sure, that could be just what the series was after, to be safe and fun and easy to watch. And boy, does it deliver on that front. But if that’s all it was — just another sitcom in a culture full of them — why do we even remember?

Sweet to the point of syrupy and preachy in a way even “7th Heaven” didn’t manage, “Full House” just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t even see the Stamos appeal. Bob Saget, however, is another story.

—KELLY ETZ

***

The first time I watched “Full House” was when I snuck downstairs early on Thanksgiving Day, flipped on the TV and snuggled my eight-year-old body into the cushions. I was young, naïve and unaware of the comic genius that was about to blaze across my TV set and change my world.

There he was, standing in all his aproned glory: Bob Saget as Danny Tanner. He was looking at Michelle, played by both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and attempting to reprimand the four-year old for feeding vegetables to the family dog, Comet.

I made it my mission to evoke a Danny Tanner-esque reaction from my parents: one of exhaustion, frustration and eventual acceptance of circumstances. How often has Danny stood, hands at his hips, shaking his head at the current state of his full house?

I’m not saying “Full House” is the best show ever. In fact, I’ve never watched an episode and thought to myself “I found that educational and hilarious!” Because, though it’s intended to be educational and some of the jokes are funny, the brilliance behind “Full House” lies in its completely absurd cast of characters.

There was D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), the oldest child, and the one who was smart, pretty and had a boyfriend. She embodied everything any girl in the ’90s wanted to be: vaguely rebellious in a non-committal way, secretly studious and outwardly caring. Michelle, the youngest and sassiest daughter was just funny. Her role was to exploit Danny, Jesse (John Stamos) and Joey (Dave Coulier), and say “you got it, dude.”

And then there was Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin). Poor Stephanie Tanner. The middle child, the one forgotten by everyone, always. If you’re wondering what she contributed, it was whining. Whining and “how rude.”

Jesse and Joey were the staple guys of the show, people you could count on to make you laugh because their roles in the house made no sense, and furthermore, were mostly unnecessary. Especially Joey — it was him and his puppets half the time anyway.

The family dynamic was completely crazy: Everyone always ran around like mad, trying to either clean, get dinner ready or bail one of the kids out of trouble. Nothing really made sense, but that was the best part of the show: watching the characters interact and make fools of themselves.

I would spend hours trying to develop a “Full House” vibe in my house. I even started giving everyone thumbs up and saying, “Aww nuts!” Unfortunately (fortunately?) it didn’t pick up, but my “Full House” obsession has yet to fade.

—ANNA SADOVSKAYA


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