Michelle's 'Fuller House' Absence Makes Sense

by Kaitlin Reilly

When Netflix confirmed their Full House sequel series, rumors swirled about whether Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen would join the new sitcom to reprise their joint role as the youngest Tanner sister Michelle. The Olsen twins eventually chose to opt out of the series, though, much to the disappointment of fans and the Fuller House cast alike — the latter of which is evident in the series when Stephanie asks why Michelle won't be returning to San Francisco, and Danny states it's because she's too busy building her fashion empire in New York. (Cue the cast staring directly at the camera.) But while many fans were bummed that the Tanner trio wouldn't star on the series — instead, Kimmy rounds out the "she wolf pack" — Fuller House inadvertently did something very right by not including Michelle in the sequel series.

Like Full House, its sequel sitcom isn't exactly hyper-realistic, but Michelle's absence rings true. After all, Fuller House is set over 20 years after the original series ended, which means that Michelle moved out of her home years before D.J. and Stephanie decided to return to it. Michelle created a life outside of the Tanner household, one where she has a career, friends, and maybe even a boyfriend or girlfriend. To have a young woman drop everything to move back in with her family, no questions asked, wouldn't only be unrealistic, it would be fairly disappointing. Being a part of a family sometimes calls for sacrifice, sure, but shouldn't the show be cool with having Michelle explore her own dreams before she settles into the Uncle Jesse lifestyle?

There's something to be said for being able to have your own adventures before returning to the nest. Stephanie may have dropped everything to return to the newly-minted Fuller household, but she did so only after living quite a life. Stephanie toured the world, had an exciting career, and got to do the cool aunt thing for years. Though Steph may have come home for DJ, in a way, we get the sense that perhaps she also came home for herself. She may not be itching to settle down in the traditional sense, but Stephanie was clearly looking for some kind of "center" when she visited home — even if she didn't consciously know it at the time.

With every core member of the Full House cast returning to the sequel series except for the Olsen twins, fans likely expected to see Michelle in some way on the series. Yet Michelle was just as absent as the Olsen twins on Fuller House, and though some fans may be hoping that she returns for Season 2 along with Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen, the show ultimately doesn't need her. That's because Fuller House delved into a truth about growing up, whether it wanted to initially or not. Relationships and priorities shift as children get older, and just as people sometimes die and parents sometimes divorce, things rarely stay exactly as they always were.

Fans may have feared that Michelle's absence would cause a hole in the show, but instead it allowed us to focus on other plot points — so much so that it's hard to imagine where Michelle's shenanigans might fit in. In between DJ's love triangle, Kimmy's courting of her ex-husband, and Stephanie's confession about why she hasn't started a family of her own, the three leads on the show have more than enough to work with here. Michelle's absence wasn't felt in Season 1, and, save for a few of the shewolf pack's prank calls to Michelle, it was hard to remember she was supposed to be around in the first place. If she's not featured in Season 2, it would actually be the right decision.

Image: Warner Bros. Television; Giphy