Like many viewers, I have fond memories of the television show Full House. The show premiered in 1987 and introduced the Tanner family into our homes. Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) was a recently widowed father of three daughters, including preteens DJ (Candace Cameron) and Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and baby Michelle (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen). Danny’s best friend, Joey (Dave Coulier), and brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) offer to move in to help Danny raise his daughters.
I was 20 years old when the show started, and I watched pretty regularly through all eight seasons. I then rewatched many of the episodes 10 years later when my own daughters became obsessed with the show through the magic of reruns. I even wound up buying the DVD set of the series — which comes packaged in a cute box that looks like the Tanner family’s San Francisco house.
Now, close to 30 years later, the show is back this month in a reboot on Netflix, with much of the original cast returning.
So, why did the show resonate so much with viewers of all ages and generations?
1. The chemistry of the cast
So many actors will say, “This cast is special. We get along just like family,” but it doesn’t seem believable. In this case, the cast acted like family on and offscreen. They built friendships and “father-daughter” bonds that continued after the show ended. They spoke fondly of one another in the media, attended one another’s weddings and guest-starred on the others’ new shows. How cool was it to find out Kimmy Gibbler and DJ were still great friends 30 years later or that Becky and Uncle Jesse really do love each other, even though they married other people in real life?
2. The Olsen twins
The casting agent who found the Olsen twins hit gold. They jumped off the TV screen as babies, and they continued to just grow more adorable as toddlers. These two grew up over the course of the show, and viewers just loved them — and their catchphrase, “You got it dude!” Their connection was especially strong with Uncle Jesse, which brings me to…
3. The gorgeous John Stamos
Stamos had already established himself as a teen heartthrob, having appeared on General Hospital in the early ’80s as rock star Blackie Parish. Stamos gave the character of Jesse a superswoon factor. Yes, he was cool and good-looking, but he was also a loyal guy with a big heart. He gave the best hugs while still protecting the hair. He wore a black leather jacket, rode a motorcycle and slept in a room with pink bunnies. He loved his nieces — especially “munchkin” Michelle, to whom he sang a lullaby every night, Elvis style.
4. Stories kids, teens and parents could relate to
The Tanners really felt like a family. There were arguments among the sisters about rooms and boys and chores. Danny, Jesse and Joey worked together to raise the girls, which meant that sometimes their parenting styles didn’t match. The girls got grounded and learned life lessons. Yes, most episodes had a saccharine-like quality that families love each other in spite of everything, but it rang true all the same.
5. Everyone was allowed to grow up — just not move away
Sometimes TV shows get stuck, and the kids stay in high school way too many years just to keep the initial concept. But the Tanners grew up. They changed schools, they changed jobs, they dated, and they got their hearts broken — just like families do in real life. Well, not exactly but close.
Uncle Jesse married Becky and had kids of their own. They just had to live over the garage, since they did need to keep it a “full” house.
6. It was a comedy that wasn’t afraid to talk about sad stuff, too
A show whose premise is about a widower starts off on a sad note. Unlike the Brady Bunch (what did happen to their original spouses?), the Tanners talked about Pam, the girls’ mother. There were episodes where this loss was acknowledged and discussed, which added to the realness for viewers of this fictional family.
I’m not sure the reboot can live up to the original, but my family is excited to catch up with the Tanners, especially after seeing their fun spoof on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last week. What about your family? Have you started humming the theme song again?