Netflix’s “Full House” revival “Fuller House” is something of a limit case for TV criticism. Does anyone who’s even considered watching the revival of a show for which critics held general disdain when they bothered to acknowledge it all the first time around care what the reviews say now? And if not, what’s the point of writing about it?
Well, for one thing, there’s the sheer pleasure of savoring the phrases into which critics channel their ire at what they universally deride as mind-bogglingly lazy fan service that fails to live up to even the original’s low standards. The A.V. Club calls it the equivalent of “a porn parody without the porn,” and the Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg opens his review by lamenting the influence of “Nostalgia’s taint.” For another, whether “Fuller House” is any good or not — and it’s pretty definitely not — the very fact of its existence casts a shadow on the cultural landscape: This is where the road of algorithm-driven development leads us, into the dark valley of If You Liked That You’ll Like This. Not every project that trades on familiar elements does so in such an abject way, but if “Fuller House” can get by on only doing that — and not by accident, but by design — why would anyone bother to try harder? Let’s turn contemporary culture, so to speak, into an endless parade of zombie shows, half-shod reboots and nostalgic cash-grabs. Whee!
If you haven’t watched an old multicamera sitcom, particularly of the up-the-middle, catchphrase-driven variety, in a while, it can seem like a form of avant-garde art: People really laughed? At this? But as much as single-camera shows hog the critical spotlight, the success of “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory” shows there’s still a substantial audience for people who want their TV to look and feel the way it always has. “Fuller House” is for them.
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Reviews of “Fuller House”
Daniel Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter
The “Fuller House” premiere is almost non-stop references to the original series, filling-in-the-gaps exposition and then a climactic homage to the “Full House” pilot that includes both clips from that series and reenactment. It has no desire to live as its own thing and it’s a trend that continues in the early episodes. The second episode doesn’t include any “Full House” clips, but it mentions and restages an allegedly classic scene. The third episode doesn’t use clips or restage, but it features a retelling of the plot of an old episode and several nods and references. As part of a weaning process, those next episodes only include cameos by Stamos and Coulier, delivered with the exact level of subtlety that brought the Harlem Globetrotters to Gilligan’s Island. At some point, D.J. needs a babysitter and Joey and Mr. Woodchuck fly in from Las Vegas and you realize how little effort has been put into making this anything less than ridiculous.
Maureen Ryan, Variety
In general, it’s simply odd for a show this derivative to frequently give the impression that it’s taking a victory lap simply for existing. It’d be nice if “Fuller House” had taken the DNA of the original and freshened it up a bit for the era in which it finds itself, and it’d be even better if the new version had more lines that were actually funny, but effective jokes are few and far between. Laughs centered on Kimmy’s “wacky friend” persona, dialogue about hot-to-trot Latin lovers, and humor that relies on farts and baby poop abound, and there’s also a nudge-nudge joke about how Kimmy now knows all about the Kama Sutra. The third episode has a series of extended dance sequences that serve no discernible purpose, and that installment also has an awkwardly inserted guest appearance from Macy Gray. The most notable concession to the conventions of the streaming era are episode running times that stretch well past 30 minutes. As Stephanie used to say, “How rude!”
Joshua Alston, A.V. Club
The show isn’t just bad, it borders on the obscene, as much an affront to those bemused by a reboot of the sitcom that anchored ABC’s once-mighty T.G.I.F. comedy block as those receptive to it. “Fuller House” doesn’t have bright spots, but it does have less dim ones: Barber’s performance is the most finely tuned, and Kimmy Gibbler is surprisingly the show’s best written character. She seems most like a credibly grown-up version of the Full House character, and she’s got her own life to lead as she navigates the wreckage of a divorce and raises her feisty 13-year-old daughter Ramona (the charismatic Soni Nicole Bringas). But mostly “Fuller House” evokes a smut-free porn parody, with sexualized adult versions of characters who, in the collective psyche, are frozen in amber as children. It manipulates and exploits nostalgic goodwill like a triple-X feature, or like Too Many Cooks, the surreal viral short inspired by Miller-Boyett’s family-sitcom assembly line. But for all Fuller House’s flaws, one can only hope Netflix doesn’t stop generously excavating long-dead intellectual property, because the next Wet Hot could be just around the corner. Encouraging Netflix to continue buying rounds for everyone in the bar means accepting that sometimes people who should have been cut off will be over-served to everyone’s detriment.
Hillary Busis, Mashable
Its jokes are about as cutting-edge as a bowl of soup; its performers are relentlessly broad, especially Bure, who tends to shout her lines à la “Hannah Montana”-era Miley Cyrus. Any and all of its attempts to tap into the zeitgeist — a character saying the word “fleek,” a trip to Coachella, a complaint from Kimmy’s biracial daughter (Soni Bringas) that the Tanners are the whitest family in America — are as transparently desperate as Mike Huckabee’s train-wreck-terrible Adele parody video. “Fuller House” is nostalgia about the concept of nostalgia itself — the multi-cam equivalent of “Midnight in Paris”, pure fan service that doubles as a fascinating hall of mirrors. And it’s also a show about good, likable people who love each other, where no matter what happens, at the end of 30 minutes, everything turns out OK.
Willa Paskin, Slate
It is bad, but in a manner so in keeping with the original that to harp on its badness feels like meanness, akin to insulting a three-legged dog for not having four. At the height of its popularity, Full House was a hackneyed and saccharine family sitcom about three men raising three girls. Its contribution to the culture includes a series of catchphrases (“How rude,” “Cut It out,” “You got it dude”), the Olsen twins (who do not appear on Fuller House), and the Full House moment—an episode hallmark in which tensions are resolved with a heartwarming chat scored to soaring elevator music. Full House was a hit, a top 10 show anchoring ABC’s TGIF lineup, and beloved by millions, including me, who as tweenager was a devoted member of its target audience. Fuller House is so in keeping with the spirit of the original, so unabashedly cheesy and canned, so well-meaning and gentle, that though it is bad and has no reason to exist, on its own terms it is also surprisingly good.
Allison Keene, Collider
What would have worked for a “Full House” revival, potentially, would have been a movie or a two-part special. But Netflix’s gamble that kids of the late 80s and early 90s would be propelled through this misplaced series with the same fervor as a GIF-laden BuzzFeed list is a bust. I don’t even feel specifically betrayed by this new incarnation, even though I grew up liking “Full House”; it’s just more of a general disappointment that turns into a question of why anyone made this, and why I wasted my time watching it. Quality means more than quantity, and ultimately,”Fuller House” serves as a reminder that some things are better left to the past.
Mitchel Broussard, We Got This Covered
It’s not the best sign when the lodging arrangements on a show become the most memorable takeaway from everything else going on. It’s just that from scene one, when Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) waltzes down the kitchen stairs to rapturous applause from a canned studio audience, nothing feels right. By the time we tick down the list of returning stars (each with applause longer than the last, yes even Mr. Woodchuck) the entire tone of “Fuller House” is one of nostalgic envy than of progressive enthusiasm. Jeff Franklin’s entire premise feels as feeble and scared to be its own thing as D.J. does when everyone threatens to leave her and fly off to bigger and better lives in the opening scenes of the premiere.
Frazier Moore, Associated Press
Pressing forward by taking a big step backward, “Fuller House” picks up predictably where “Full House” left off. Soon to be installed in the Netflix gallery, it beckons to all viewers who want a sugar fix. You know who you are.