Wednesday, March 2
A Writer Wish About Fuller House
There is the joke about Steph being DJ Tanner (because, you know, she's a DJ and doesn't every 7 year old want to be her big sister for a little while...except she's not 7, she's an adult and it's just a bad, bad joke), and the old favorite - Kimmy's smelly feet. As soon as the 13-episode series launched the reviews - many of them horrible - came sliding down the interwebz. What follows isn't so much a review as a...wish.
When I started seeing the previews for Fuller House last fall, I immediately got caught up in the nostalgia - who wouldn't? We have a recently widowed mom with three small boys (the original was a recently widowed dad with three small girls). We have her always-available Dad who steps in to help her cope...all set to the track of Miranda Lambert's The House That Built Me, and then we hear DJ, the girl we all wanted to be...maybe just for a little while...say, "Gosh, it's good to be back home again."
I'm all for camp and sweetness, and I cry during holiday commercials and back to school commercials and...well, a whole host of other things. And I got - still get - teary with that song and those words and the thought that if the worst happened I would be the girl in DJ's shoes. What would I do?
But then I started watching the show, and it wasn't so much a show about the character of DJ and the struggles of a widowed, single mom...it was a bunch of old jokes and catchphrases, and a moment when DJ realizes she's going to be truly alone (Dad, Jesse and Joey are going back to their regular lives) that fell flat for me. Oh, the camp was there and the cheesiness, but that moment DJ sees only her name on the chore board, the moment when I expected something more than camp and cheese...I didn't.
I wanted to connect with DJ in that moment. I wanted to feel how overwhelmed and freaked out and completely insecure the character was about finally, truly being alone...because since her husband's death, she's had her dad and her aunt and uncle and best-friend Joey to help out. I wanted a fuller story, and what I got were the old catchphrases and jokes...Those old catchphrases and jokes still made me smile, but I wanted - and want - more from a show that really does have a lot of potential.
There is the newly-widowed single mom (what 30 something woman can't identify with that possibility and the horrors of dating again and how awful the fix-ups would be and how you'd try to do that while keeping the love of your life alive for your kids?). There is the sister and best friend who move in so they can help her cope and who are woefully inadequate (where this really falls flat for me is Kimmy, who is also a single mom because her husband is a philanderer...she should have it more together and yet what we get are stinky feet jokes), but there could be real fire there...differences in parenting goals and skills, and an examination of what parenting really is. Then, there are the kids who've lost their parent, a fire-fighting hero...that's a lot of angst to deal with.
I didn't hate Fuller House, and I'll probably watch some more with the kiddo, and I'm going to make my wish now: I wish that the writers of the show would stop with the full-on homage to the past. The show was schmaltzy and corny as an original, and that's not bad...but making this the exact same schmaltzy, corny show - and some of the jokes/situations are exact! - IS. These characters have the potential to be richer than the originals. I want the writers to delve into the characters. Give us a heroine (DJ) who we can root for, give us best friends/sisters who have actual flaws - flaws that aren't dependent on their inability to change a diaper.
Oh, and no more 'have mercy' or 'how rude' or 'you got it dude' references, mmkay? Lets let those lines stay firmly in the past.