For nearly four decades, Jeff Franklin has been the driving force behind some of your favorite shows and movies of the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. But his most enduring creation is Full House, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on Sept. 22. Not only is that the day that the show premiered in 1987, but it's also the day when Franklin's revival series Fuller House Season 3 drops its first batch of episodes on Netflix. It's full circle for the comedy series, but the one thing about Full House's legacy that Franklin is most proud of is how many fans the show has touched.
"I'm just really proud of the fact that we have entertained so many people — probably over a billion people have watched Full House and that's astounding," he tells Bustle in a phone interview a few days before the premiere of Fuller House Season 3 in September. "The fact that our work still lives on and we're still making people happy is really special to me." Franklin estimation is pretty accurate — the original Full House has been airing in syndication on various TV networks since 1991 and a Russian adaption was even produced in 2006. "The fact that a show this old is still entertaining people is miraculous," Franklin says of the original series. "You turn on the show and there's no cell phones, no computers, and there's giant mullets."
Franklin left Full House after its fifth season. Three seasons later, ABC canceled Full House in 1995 and over 24 million viewers watched the series finale, making it one of the most-watched TV series finales of all time — but it wasn't the final episode that Franklin had envisioned for the series. He says that those final three seasons did not reflect his original vision for the show, and that's what inspired his attempts to revive the show years later.
"A lot of things had happened to the show that I wasn't happy with," Franklin says. "I was kind of hoping that someday I'd get a chance to bring the show back — right some wrongs and do that series finale that never got to happen." He recalls that there wasn't much interest from Hollywood during his first attempt at bringing back Full House in 2007. Years later, he tried shopping the project in 2015, but still no one wanted to give it a shot — until Netflix stepped in. "We had sort of given up when one of the executives from Nickelodeon moved over to Netflix," Franklin tells Bustle. "At the time, they were interested in creating some original family programming on their service. So they invited us back in and sort of rescued us. We're very lucky, very fortunate."
A year later in 2016, Fuller House premiered with most of the original cast returning to the show, along with some new faces joining the series as well. Franklin recalls some weirdness having the cast reprise their roles after a long absence from those iconic Tanner family characters. "We're all so close and we have so much history," he says. "It's fun and it's weird, too. We all know each other so well." But Fuller House also gave Franklin the chance to envision D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy as adults. "The girls are all grown up know and they're creating adult characters," he says. "They have character traits from when they were kids, but really, we're reinventing the characters now."
D.J., Stephanie, and Kimmy may still have some of the same catchphrases, but in Fuller House, they also face adult issues. D.J. juggles working, being a single mom, and dating after her husband's death. Stephanie has had to come to terms with her infertility. Kimmy deals with her complicated relationship with her daughter's father and attempting to co-parent. While Fuller House is a series that takes place in 2017, the show still has a nostalgic feel, which Franklin says is intentional. "We try to be relevant, but at the same time we're creating a feeling that was very prevalent once upon a time, but now is sort of unique," he says.
It's a nostalgic feel that Franklin has perfected over the course of his long and successful Hollywood career. He is best known to audiences for creating Full House and Fuller House, but he also created the beloved '90s sitcom Hanging With Mr. Cooper, as well writing and producing the comedies Bosom Buddies (starring Tom Hanks), and It's Garry Shandling's Show. He penned the script to the Olsen twins' first TV movie To Grandmother's House We Go, which essentially kicked off a whole genre of TV movies starring the sister duo. Franklin began his career as a writer on the Garry Marshall-led classic comedy Laverne & Shirley in the 1970s and he credits the late Hollywood legend with teaching him the sitcom form that he still follows today.
"Garry was the master of creating these kinds of shows back in the mid-70s," Franklin says. "So it feels very familiar to me to do shows that are designed to have a positive, happy ending in each episode."
Even if Fuller House's tone is considered nostalgic, Franklin has noticed that the kids of 2017 who are watching the Netflix series often check out the original Full House. "It just keeps going," he says. And Full House lives on because of the fans — the one variable of his show Franklin couldn't control, but the one that responded anyway because of the material, the characters, and, frankly, the heart the show delivers every time you turn it on.