It would be foolish to expect Fuller House, the punnily titled Netflix revival of Full House, to be something its predecessor never was. The hardly-original original was a very vanilla Three Men and a Baby rip powered by cuteness, cornball, and the varied charms of Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and that dreamy, well-preserved human Twinkie, John Stamos. It was sweet. A generation raised on ABC’s TGIF adored it. But was it good? However you answer, you would expect a reboot to offer nostalgia, knowing irony, or even a shrewdly tweaked reformulation like Girl Meets World, Disney Channel’s gender-flipped take on Boy Meets World. Fuller House wants to entertain with all these strategies, but it fails. Badly. It’s lazily constructed kitsch that isn’t worth your time or affection.
The show is built around all-grown-up D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), a veterinarian, new widow, and mom to three boys: a teen (Michael Campion), pretween (Elias Harger), and tyke (Dashiell and Fox Messitt). Inverting the mother ship’s dads-raising-girls premise, D.J. gets some live-in help: party-girl sis Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and obnoxious bestie Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), who is now an event planner and separated single mom to a teen daughter (Soni Bringas). A warm fable about women supporting one another through a rough passage of life? A thoughtful idea, but the execution is terribly thoughtless. Spirited performances are wasted on subpar famcom treacle. The women are caricatures. The dead-spouse tragedy and divorce turmoil are barely explored. The broad, womp-womp “comedy” is a catalogue of sentimental effects, sanded edges, and dusty scenarios. Icky diapers. Irresponsible babysitting. Farts. Goofy dancing. Puppies. Skunks and tomato soup baths. Winks at genre conventions and celeb cameos, some of which are shockingly sad, from brothers Maksim and Val Chmerkovskiy (Dancing With the Stars) playing Casanova stereotypes, to a lifeless Macy Gray. “What am I doing here? I won a Grammy!” she deadpans.
It’s also worth noting that Full House headliners Stamos, Saget, Coulier, and Lori Loughlin are hardly on it. The premise ships them off elsewhere to commence their post-parenthood lives. Their appearances are stingily parceled across episodes—some Elvis-crooning Stamos here, some Coulier Bullwinkle impressions there—with the exception of the premiere, part pilot, part cloying reunion special. There’s a plot, but it’s basically a series of entrances, exits, and signature bits designed to elicit roars from the studio audience. Even if you share the love, it’s just bad TV.
Skipping this embarrassment are Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who became lifestyle brands while playing Michelle and have had a turbulent relationship with fame ever since. In the debut, Saget says Michelle is pursuing a fashion career—and the cast gives side eye to the camera, drawing approving hollers. Why the shaming? Because the twins don’t do nostalgia? Because they have too much self-respect for a cash grab and a cheap ovation? Regardless, I resent getting co-opted into this ugliness. Olsens, you made a quality call. Readers, follow their lead. Fuller House doesn’t deserve your devotion. It deserves a foreclosure notice. Premiere: F Everything after: C–