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Jul 8, 2020

How Netflix's 'Fuller House' Became a Grown-Up Family Sitcom

Our producer-at-large Father Vince Kuna, C.S.C., a 2016 USC film-school grad, does a regular feature here called BASED ON, looking at literary works adapted into TV or movies.

Fuller House, based on the 1987-'95 TV series Full House, created by Jeff Franklin.

The final season of Fuller House can now be streamed on Netflix. Outside of the Jack Benny Show, it finishes up as the live-action sitcom with the most seasons -- although non-contiguous.

Full House ran in the late ‘80s through the mid-'90s and centered the series around the coming of age of the three Tanner sisters. Filling out the B-stories were the adult characters: the widower father (Bob Saget), his brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) and best friend Joey (Dave Coulier), who help each other in raising the girls.

The original show falls squarely in the family-sitcom genre. As a kid, I watched more of the earlier seasons, “outgrowing” what I eventually discovered by the later seasons were some obligatory sit-down sessions, whereby the younger characters (and viewers) absorb life lessons from their father-figures all to the tune of a very on-the-nose score.

It may actually be a credit to the show, that some viewers “age” out, and a backhanded compliment that the audience grows up in its own right.

Much criticism of the reboot cites the compromise of the family nature of the original show. The criticism is undue, however, given producer Jeff Franklin’s choice to follow the sisters as they navigate adult life.

Kimmy Gibbler, (Andrea Barber), D.J. Tanner’s (Candace Cameron Bure) best friend from the first run, essentially replaces Michelle, as the Olsen twins are now busy running their fashion empire. Danny, Jesse and Joey only recur a few episodes per season each.

The three sons of widow D.J. round out the Fuller House B stories this time. There’s added innuendo, so the new show oscillates between a family show and a workplace drama. This is understandable, since the show aimed at an audience now in their adult years with families of their own. Many of the dating situations begin irregularly, but the relationships over the five seasons arc towards authentic love and more permanent vocations.

The show trends in the same direction of other recent reboots by relying heavily on nostalgia. After season one,  Fuller House separated itself from the pack by dispensing with trips down memory lane and allowed the new version to become its own, a second coming-of-age show.

The willingness to adapt on the fly should serve a potential third act as Bure has expressed a desire to return to the character in 15-20 years. Golden Girls comes to mind as she, Barber and Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner) would be approaching their sixties. A Fullest House might eclipse all sitcoms in total seasons after all.

Click here for Netflix's official site on the show.

Image: Netflix

Click here to visit Father Vince Kuna’s IMDB page.

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