Why Fuller House is funny, feminist, and a really good reboot
By Libby Allnatt
As a 1996 baby, I just barely missed the Full House era (1987-1995). But I was lucky enough to catch re-runs for years to come. At first I was annoyed that Nick at Nite would disrupt my regularly scheduled Drake and Josh, but I soon came to love the Tanner family and all their antics.
I finished all 13 episodes of Fuller House with slightly embarrassing speed. Blame procrastination or a desire for quick and cheap entertainment (“both” is probably the most likely explanation). At first I found it hard to get through the first episode, which felt like nonstop audience cheering and tired catchphrases. How many times were we going to hear “Cut. It. Out” again? I started to get worried.
But I soon realized the show was pretty compelling once we got all the throwback references out of the way. (And I totes understand why the show needed to let viewers enjoy the nostalgia for a bit.) DJ Tanner’s sons and Kimmy Gibler’s tween daughter give the show some fresh blood and youth, making it seem like a new hip Disney Channel show (and if you know me, you know I mean this in a good way).
The show centers around the three female protagonists — DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy, who all maintain their own interests or jobs while helping take care of the kids in the house. It’s refreshing to see DJ working at a veterinary clinic and being pretty darn successful while doing so, even though her character often falls into the “frazzled mom” trope that’s characteristic of the way many working women are portrayed in media. (ABC sitcom “The Middle” is one of my fave shows, but sometimes just watching Frankie Heck makes me feel stressed out.)
But I see why this portrayal is important and relevant for viewers, and it gives the show some pretty emotional moments, like on the first episode, “Our Very First Show, Again,” when the Tanner gang overhears DJ on the verge of a nervous breakdown about balancing life after the death of her husband (who kind of remains a mystery, except we know he was a fireman who died “doing what he loved”). Her character shows weakness and imperfection, and that’s okay. This vulnerability strengthens the bond between DJ, Stephanie, and Kimmy.
I won’t give away any endings, but throughout watching the show I was consistently impressed with the way the show portrayed the women dating and dealing with their relationships without making that the entire theme. Kimmy runs a quirky party-planning business, Stephanie is a world-renowned DJ (a bit of a stretch, but her wild child ways are a nice juxtaposition to her sister’s more conventional route, and not a huge surprise since she was always the spunky middle child on Full House). DJ is an animal doctor and has three young kids who she would clearly do anything for. The women have their own passions, and they are one hella loyal girl gang, even if they disagree on stuff sometimes. They enjoy dating, but finding a man is not the end goal of their lives.
DJ gets caught in a Bachelorette-esque love triangle that’s almost as captivating as the actual reality show. Kimmy’s on-again-off-again ex-husband Fernando is charming, but the feisty Latino trope is a bit played out and in questionable taste. (Thankfully though the show generally does a good job of not relying on derogatory, offensive, or mean jokes.)
The point is, through all of their dating debacles and amusing antics, the three ladies have each other’s backs. It’s refreshing to see a show where the women aren’t pitted against each other, where their lives don’t revolve around men, and where they have their own interests and passions. (These sound like pretty low standards for quality entertainment, but you’d be surprised how many things don’t fit this criteria once you start paying attention to it. #FeministProbs.)
Overall, I’d recommend giving “Fuller House” a watch if you haven’t already. If you can make it through the first episode of nonstop applause and violent laughter at jokes from 20 years ago, you’ll discover a pretty funny show with insightful messages about sisterhood, female friendship, and finding what matters in life.