Thursday, January 7, 2016

Why 'Fuller House' Kinda Freaks Me Out

The more I hear about the forthcoming Netflix-produced series Fuller House, the more freaked out I get.

This is probably not a statement you'd expect to hear from a girl who spent many of her formative years obsessing over Full House: admiring DJ, trying to be like Stephanie, and resisting the urge to reach through the TV screen and strangle the oft-bratty Michelle. I loved the show, and when it went off the air in 1995, I was disappointed. Even though the eighth and final season was pretty awful, the cancellation of the series meant the end of the familiar Tanner Family saga. The Tanners would now only live on in our minds (and perhaps, crappy fanfic.)

I've lost a lot of TV shows over the years. I've bonded with the characters and obsessed over the story arcs, only to have the series swept out from under me by cruel, greedy, and possibly evil (in my mind) network executives. The first few times it happened, I mourned my beloved shows bitterly. But soon I came to realize that I should never get too attached. The TV environment is too uncertain, too brittle. (For what it's worth, I watch very little TV anymore.)

When we last left the Tanners in 1995, Michelle had fallen off a horse and gotten amnesia, but regained her memory before the end of the show. Stephanie and Danny were both (separately, I hope) dating. DJ had broken up with Steve a year or so before, but in the finale, he made a surprise appearance and took DJ to her senior prom. 

And then... that was it.

In the 20.5 since Full House went off the air, I've gone through high school, college, and several jobs. I've watched half my friends get married, and seen half of those friends have kids -- some of whom are now the same age I was when I discovered Full House. In those two decades I've experienced the loss of multiple relatives, two cats, and a plethora of small pets. I've published a novel, produced a web series, maintained a website, built a backyard playground structure, constructed a chicken coop, traveled to many places, seen my little brother get married, and enjoyed the addition of a baby niece.

Meanwhile, the Tanners remained stagnant, frozen in time, in a distant memory where they were all standing in their kitchen, bidding the audience goodbye.

Only it turns out, it wasn't the last time. They weren't frozen. They were still living their lives, parallel to mine, only I wasn't aware of it.

Thanks to Fuller House, we'll see that (spoiler alert?) DJ Tanner is a widow with three boys, Kimmy Gibbler has a daughter, and Stephanie is... well, I'm not really sure what. And they all live in the same San Francisco house.

I know it's fiction, I know the Tanners aren't real. But the actors are. How surreal must it be for them to be back on a familiar set (well, a new set built to resemble the original set) with familiar people who they must have regarded as family for eight years, but then had ripped away from them? Yeah, I know most of the cast has kept in touch over the years. Photos of mini-reunions have been frequent. But now... to be back... working long days, with the same people... as if nothing ever changed....

But it has changed. Candace Cameron Bure (DJ) may still be a TV-movie princess, but she's also a married mother with a 17-year-old daughter and two younger sons. John Stamos is still considered something of a heartthrob, but there was that whole marriage to Rebecca Romijn that's been over long enough for Rebecca to be remarried and have 7-year-old twin daughters. The Olsen Twins have made a dozen movies, gone to college, started a fashion line, and somehow also found the time to genetically manufacture a sister to take their place in Hollywood. Bob Saget finally escaped from America's Funniest Home Videos, but I'm not aware of any career he has had beyond stand-up comedy. And Jodie Sweetin, well....

Although I admired and looked up to DJ, Stephanie Tanner (as played by Sweetin) was my favorite, probably because we were close in age. After Full House ended, things kind of went south for Sweetin, as she explained in her memoir UnSweetined. Losing the familiarity of the Full House family contributed to her drinking, which led to drugs, which led to a full-on meth addiction. She has been married and divorced three times. I don't wish to judge her by any means, but the knowledge of these things certainly affects how I see her, and even how I see Stephanie.

It's been 20 years. We've all grown up. A million things happened. Yet for the Tanners, a family we said goodbye to, life has apparently been chugging on, unbeknownst to us. And next month, they will once again open their doors and invite us to share in the ups and downs of large-family life in San Francisco.

As if nothing has changed...

...except everything has.


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