How Will 'Fuller House' Compare To Modern Family Sitcoms? The Tone Needs To Differ From 'Full House'
Marzipan candyman John Stamos announced on Jimmy Kimmel last night that Netflix has whipped out its giant green light for the long-rumored Full House reboot, Fuller House . For those of you born after 1993, Full House was a ratings juggernaut in the early '90s that featured a shiny white family swapping plucky catchphrases and life lessons. With the end of the original series 20 years years behind us (Full House aired its final episode in 1995), Netflix has decided to give the sequel-series 13 episodes starring original cast members Candace Cameron-Bure (DJ Tanner), Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner), Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler) and Stamos (Uncle Jesse, of course).
(No word yet on whether or not the Olsen twins will climb down from their mountain of gold and oversized handbags to make a guest appearance).
For a TV platform that won its Emmys by creating shows that directly undermine the saccharine sitcoms you see on network television, this is a strange and unexpected move. While its shows generally lack the grittiness of HBO or Showtime, all of Netflix's big-name hits (House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, Bloodlines) make a point of jumping head first into some fairly dark themes. Even the uber-shiny and optimistic Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has horrific trauma weaved into the premise, and frequently includes mentions of topics like sexual abuse and PTSD. Full House was inexplicably beloved by viewers in its heyday (even 8-year-old me LOVED it), but let's face facts: Full House was a giant glob of lightly toasted white bread sopping in a carafe of lukewarm milk. It's emblematic of a very different time in television, and watching old episodes today makes Modern Family look like The Wire.
Although it seems like the premise of Fuller House is pretty dark itself (it features a widowed and pregnant DJ moving in with sister Stephanie for help raising her 12-year-old son), the original series started with a pretty similar premise, and didn't take long to transform into a light-hearted comedy.
What, then, will be the comedic tone of Fuller House? Will it match the sharp wit and adult themes of the current string of Netflix hits, or is this the company's attempt to reach new demographics with classic family programming?
On the one hand, family television has gotten some surprisingly mainstream attention in the past few years. Not only has ABC Family managed to garner a decent amount of viewers, but when Disney announced they were rebooting another fairly saccharine ABC sitcom from the '90s, Boy Meets World, they stumbled upon a previously untapped fountainhead of nostalgia for entertainment reporters across the Internet. Articles pored over every unfolding detail of the show's production with affection and excitement, and the coverage helped make the show a relative success for Disney.
Netflix has built a reputation as a savvy and apt analyst of trends through its ability to directly track all of its subscribers' viewing habits. It's completely possible that the same algorithm that led to a hit prison dramedy (Orange Is The New Black) has correctly identified a hole in the programming lineup (generic family sitcoms). If that is the case, then it would seem we can expect something like Girl Meets World, which is specifically geared towards children while also appealing to an adult sense of nostalgia (Disney Channel meets TV Land).
However, Netflix has also built a reputation for fresh storytelling. If Fuller House is meant in any way for the viewers that already pay attention to Netflix, it would have to find some way to creatively rope a viewer like myself — someone who is not apart of the demographic that the original Full House was meant for — into the show. What this would mean in practice is a show that doesn't rely on schmaltzy catch phrases, features a diverse cast, and — should there be "life lessons" — is smart enough to be tongue-in-cheek about the whole affair (The Fosters meets 30 Rock).
As for what direction Fuller House will choose to take, that won't be apparent until the series finally premieres on Netflix next year.
Images: ABC; Disney