Returning to the Tanner’s is like going to grandma’s house — not much has changed, and everyone’s a little older.
With “Full House’s” 1995 conclusion, watching the family-friendly show’s reruns became a beloved pastime across America.
But Netflix’s “Fuller House” quickly proves the show should have been left as exactly that — a past time.
Even though it’s been 21 years since the last episode of America’s favorite TGIF sitcom, “Full House,” went off the air, the nostalgia abruptly ended Feb. 26, with Netflix’s latest original series “Fuller House,” a reboot of the ABC original show.
With the season’s first 13 episodes, “Fuller House” is back with the same sappy life lessons and corny jokes but with a modern twist. With more crude humor and frequent pop culture references, the show is straining to appeal to a younger audience with both hands still death-gripping the nostalgia hook.
The reboot’s premise resembles the original’s, with the familiar San Francisco house, abrasive laugh track and memorable catchphrases, such as Stephanie’s, “How rude!” and Jesse’s, “Have mercy!”
As with many film spin-offs and sequels, repeating a successful formula doesn’t translate well for “Fuller House.”
The oldest daughter, DJ Tanner-Fuller (Candace Cameron Bure) is a recently single mom with three boys after her firefighter husband died on duty. Twenty-nine years after “Full House” began, DJ has taken over her father’s role, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), who similarly raised a family after his wife’s death.
The show makes sure you won’t miss that obvious connection, as DJ states in a later episode that she is “turning into Dad.”
The parallels don’t stop there. In order to help DJ cope with her husband’s death and raise her three kids, middle sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and lifelong best friend Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) move into the Tanner’s original San Francisco house, just as Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) and Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) did to assist Danny.
DJ is the mature, responsible one, just like her father, while Kimmy takes over Uncle Joey’s role as the goofball of the family. And Stephanie replaces Hot Uncle Jesse (who is still Hot Uncle Jesse) as the show’s main source of sex appeal.
Despite the reversed plot, the first episode of “Fuller House” is a complete nostalgia trip, which is a bit uncanny for old fans and does nothing to draw in a new audience.
The credits include images of the cast back in the day, and there is also a side-by-side shot of Joey singing the same “Flintstones” theme song to DJ’s son and to baby Michelle in an old episode. There are also multiple shot recreations, including a scene where Jesse plays the guitar with his old band, The Rippers.
Many of the main characters reappear, such as Danny, who has put on a few pounds in the last two decades, Joey, who still plays with Mr. Woodchuck — a stuffed puppet he narrates to make the kids laugh —and Jesse and Becky Katsopolis (Lori Loughlin), who are now married. These characters mainly appear in the first episode, but make random guest appearances throughout the rest of the season.
One very important character who doesn’t appear on the show is Michelle, the youngest daughter played by both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
The Olsen twins declined the show’s offer to star in “Fuller House,” as they both spend most of their time in New York running their many clothing lines, such as Elizabeth and James and The Row. The show pokes fun of Michelle’s absence with Danny explaining Michelle is too busy “running her fashion empire in New York.” The cast then pauses and turns to look directly at the camera for an uncomfortably long amount of time.
Amid the nostalgia, there are too many forced new additions in “Fuller House” that make its efforts to stay relevant cringeworthy at times.
Canadian pop-star Carly Rae Jepsen now sings the “Everywhere You Look” theme song, almost causing one’s ears to bleed. The show also frequently tries to reference pop culture by having the characters use phrases such as “on fleek,” take constant selfies, use Uber and latch onto their cellphones. The show even goes as far as referring to Donald Trump as a “bad word.”
Following its characters, “Fuller House’s” intended target audience has grown up as well. Within the first few episodes, Stephanie dethrones Uncle Jesse’s lead sex appeal by wearing a revealing low-cut dress, Kimmy references acid and the three main characters — Kimmy, Stephanie and DJ — pound back tequila shots and dance with shirtless guest stars from “Dancing With the Stars” all while R&B artist Macy Gray performs on stage.
But at the same time, the show is trying its best to quench the audience’s thirst for the show’s golden days. Kimmy seems to be “stuck in the ’90s,” still wearing her usual bright tacky clothing. A few characters even perform a dance routine to a New Kids on the Block song in order to “take it back to the late ’80s when the party got started.”
Even though “Fuller House” tries its best to be a modern spin-off of the old show, it’s so kitschy that only die-hard fans or millennials seeking nostalgic closure will find it satisfying. And, like Michelle Tanner, these characters’ lives probably would have been best left to the imagination.