I would like to apologize to Fuller House.
Last week in my review of Fuller House, I unfairly criticized the show’s actors, writing and humor. I was overly negative, partly because a certain episode of the show (unintentionally) hit a little too close to home for me and my disdain became personal. However, hitting close to home is no excuse for lacking as a critic. Thus I present a more objective article on how to fix Fuller House.
I recommend the writers behind Fuller House use Disney sitcoms as a template. Yes, Disney sitcoms don’t have acclaimed writing, but if there’s one thing that they all get right, it’s the “these characters: but in X” formula. Disney sitcoms tend to base episode settings on singular events or problems and have their plots revolve around said thing. In contrast, Fuller House presents its setting as only part of the plot.
For example, “Mad Max” is an episode about youngster Max Fuller practicing for a recital of “Old Macdonald” and Aunt Stephanie going to the music festival Coachella. The episode (spoilers!) has almost nothing to do with the recital or Coachella, other than solving that episode’s dilemma. Both the setting plot (Coachella) and problem plot (the concert) fight with each other and cancel out. If they had just had the Fullers go to Coachella or had them attend Max’s recital and based its plot and subplots around either of those settings, it would be a much stronger series for it.
Speaking of Mad Max… The referential humor in Fuller House is forced. Entire scenes feel like they exist just for the sake of making references to things the audience will recognize. This isn’t to say that referential humor is bad, it just needs a bit more work than other jokes. The key to referential humor is prioritizing the scene and subtlety over the reference itself.
“I will admit that my previous judgment on the actors was far from true in its severity.”
– Robert Pulford
Take Deadpool, for example. In the movie, Deadpool makes constant references throughout (he even references the fact that he is in a film), but he never overstays his welcome. The references are mixed with other comedy and all are written with Deadpool and common knowledge in mind. Thus characters have conversations that fit their personality and feel like they could happen without a script, all the while bringing those who get the references closer to the film.
I will admit that my previous judgment on the actors was far from true in its severity. Recently I rediscovered a video by one of my inspirations, The Nostalgia Critic, titled: “11 GOOD THINGS From The Star Wars Prequel.” One of the points made is that many of the actors in the prequel trilogy are good actors, but they were given unnatural lines. I believe the same effect is at play in Fuller House. All of the actors are trying, it’s just that they are given such cringe-worthy lines that even acting masters couldn’t say it naturally. Does it excuse the performance? No, but the blame should not be thrown at just the actors.
Now I’d like to note that just because I am apologizing to Fuller House, that doesn’t mean that I like it. In my last article, I used a scene from The End of Evangelion to convey my final harsh opinions on Fuller House. I still hold those opinions. However, as I was writing the last review, it became less about liquidating Fuller House into its base LCL to explain why it didn’t work and became more about refusing instrumentality out of spite (if we’re still going by reference to The End of Evangelion). For that, Fuller House, I am truly sorry.
(Top image: John Stamos, star and executive producer of “Fuller House,” responded to negative reviews on NBC’s “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Thursday.)
TV Talk is a regular television column written by Robert Pulford, Current Staff.