Full House wasn’t trying to prove anything except that there existed something called a wholesome family

Madonna and Michael Jackson were at their flamboyant best, and rock fans were being treated to Sweet Child o’ Mine, when American television was warming up to a benign trip into the lives of the Tanner family.

Viewers cooed when Michelle Tanner, played by the Olsen twins, took her first baby steps, watched Jesse (John Stamos) charm all the ladies, laughed at Joey’s (Dave Coulier) tomfoolery and chuckled at Danny Tanner’s (Bob Saget) deadpan jokes.

Popular demand

Full House, a distinctly 80s situational comedy, though it ran a good five years into the 90s, gave its audience much cheer with its infectious optimism. There was no problem that the Tanner household couldn’t find a solution to at the end of 30 minutes.

This feel-good series has returned to Indian television, with a re-run on Zee Cafe. An era when male stars sported the ‘business in the front, party at the back’ mullets is brought back for Indian viewers “on popular demand”, according to media interviews given by the channel.

There are perhaps parallels to be drawn between the setting when the series was first aired in the U.S. and the transitional state of the Indian family now.

An endearing tale of how a widowed father brings up his three daughters with help from his comedian friend and musician brother-in-law, Full House successfully aired for eight seasons.

The sitcoms of the 70s had voiced social injustices and political debacles. In the 80s, viewers no longer wanted to turn to television to be goaded into social action‘Name-that-80s-show’, if ever played, would be a tough nut to crack with Family Ties, The Cosby Show, The Brady Bunch and others gyrating around recurring themes of family values, conformity and single parenting.

Emotional getaway

For people living in a world whose pace was becoming frenetic, Full House provided a getaway from it all. It put the audience in a simple, peaceful, vegetative state. It made one wish that their life was as bad as the Tanners, with their biggest worries being how Jesse’s hair gel won’t hold his hair in place just before a gig or how the most popular girl wore the same dress as DJ’s to the big dance, amidst beautiful shots of San Francisco.

What began as a lesson in parenting, with the faithfully sprinkled end-of-the-episode lectures by Saget to an accompaniment of emotion wringing background music, very soon became a Michelle show, requiring a high tolerance for all her spoilt shenanigans. The fatherly figure went on to churn the most raunchy and risque humour in later years.

The script or the acting may not have won an Emmy, but Full House wasn’t trying to prove anything except that there existed something called a wholesome family despite all odds; How the family ‘stuck it out and got through’. It may not have been fantastic television, but in retrospect, it wasn’t bad either.

It was honestly committed to show emotional evolution in its characters using music. “The baby is sleeping like a baby” was the standard of its comedy. “Whatever happened to predictability?” Well, it found a home — at 1882 Girard Street, where the Tanners lived. Yet, Michelle’s amnesia in the end wasn’t predictable at all!

Amidst its flaws, Full House successfully struck a chord and connected with us. It stuck its tongue out at critics and the zany humour, “Aw, nuts!” became an identity of the 80s.

Keywords: Full Housesitcom


Couch Potato March 9, 2011

More In: Bengaluru