Netflix has revived the 1990′s family-friendly favorite Full House. But is Fuller House as family-friendly?
In the 1990s, ABC aired a family-friendly programming block called, “TGIF” that featured wholesome and entertaining family-friendly shows like Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Family Matters and Full House. As children of the ‘90s have come of age and started having children of their own, nostalgia for those family-friendly favorites has produced a bumper crop of throw-back series. Boy Meets World, for example, spawned Girl Meets World on the Disney Channel, which follows Corey and Topanga Matthews’ 12-year-old daughter. Melissa Joan Hart, star of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, teamed-up with ‘90s teen-heartthrob Joey Lawrence (of Blossom fame) for four seasons of Melissa & Joey on ABC Family (now Freeform); and recently Netflix decided to reunite the cast of Full House for a Netflix exclusive original series, Fuller House, which focuses on the now-grown children and extended family of Bob Saget’s Danny Tanner.
It’s wonderful that Netflix has decided to delve into the development of family-friendly series. Netflix has of course, achieved significant financial and critical success with original series like House of Cards, and more recently, Marco Polo, both of which are distinctly for adult audiences only. But because Netflix operates, for all intents and purposes, like a premium cable channel (if you don’t want the programming coming into your home, you simply don’t pay for it), it doesn’t play by the same rules as broadcast or even basic cable channels. That said, many families are turning to over-the-top services like Netflix precisely because of the lack of family-appropriate programming on the broadcast and basic cable networks.
Fuller House reunites most of the original cast for the first episode (with the exception of Michelle, played by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, who declined to participate in the reunion), and there are more than a few winks and nods to the original series. Catchphrases like Stephanie’s “How rude,” and Jesse’s “Have mercy” are worked into the script, as are Joey’s Bullwinkle impersonation and Mr. Woodchuck puppet. But it quickly becomes clear that this series is intended not so much for ‘90s kids to share with their own youngsters, but for those same now-adults to indulge in a little harmless, mostly innocent nostalgia.
By today’s television standards, Fuller House is remarkably clean…but not as squeaky-clean as the original. Foul language doesn’t go beyond an occasional “damn.” And the revival includes the same sweet sentimentality and evident love of family of the original, but there’s enough misplaced adult humor to make for uncomfortable viewing with small children present. When Becky comes downstairs and says, “Man, oh man, I’m exhausted,” husband Jesse coyly asks, “Oh, yeah? From last night?” She clarifies that it’s from climbing up and down the stairs to the attic, to which he responds, “No wonder your butt was so firm.”
Later, Stephanie is shown getting ready for a party wearing a dress that reveals ample cleavage. When she picks up DJ’s infant son Tommy, she says, “Hey, hey, my eyes are up here. I know these might look like lunch, but this Dairy Queen is closed, okay?”
Kimmy Gibbler’s ex-husband makes a surprise appearance at Danny’s going away party and makes a plea for Kimmy to give him a second chance: “I have seduced the most beautiful women in the world.” Kimmy responds, “Yeah, some of them during our marriage.” “Yes, I made one mistake. Many, many times. But no one has the skills of this enchantress. Kimmy Gibbler knows things. Long-lost secrets of the Kama Sutra from deepest, darkest India.” Danny: “This Kimmy Gibbler?” Kimmy: “Yes, this Kimmy Gibbler!”
Becky at one point asks Jesse if they can have another baby, to which Jesse replies, “Beck, you know that ship has sailed. In fact, it sunk. All seamen lost.”
Bottom line: Fuller House is a fun trip down memory lane for young adults who grew up with the Tanners; and for families struggling to find something on broadcast television, it’s welcome relief from the vulgar sit-coms that are being passed-off as “family comedies.” But proceed with caution if you have children under the age of ten. Much of the adult humor is likely to go over their heads, but jokes about breasts and bedroom prowess just seem grossly out of place for a family comedy.