Fuller House (2016) is a Netflix original sitcom and sequel of the ABC comedy Full House (1987) that was popular in the late 1980's to the mid-90's. The new show focuses on DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron-Bure), the eldest of the three Tanner daughters, as she navigates life following the death of her husband. She, much like her father in the original series, faces adversity while attempting to raise her children alone. However, also like her father, she is surrounded by loving family and friends—comprised of many of the original actors. With their help, DJ finds some relief from the stresses of being a single parent. Among the returning cast of family members are John Stamos (Uncle Jesse Katsopolis), Bob Saget (Danny Tanner), Jodie Sweetin (Stephanie Tanner), Dave Coulier (Joey Gladstone), Lori Loughlin (Rebecca Katsopolis), and Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit (Nicky and Alex Katsopolis). Also returning is Andrea Barber reviving her role as Kimmy Gibbler, and Scott Weinger as Steve Hale.
Michelle Tanner, played by both Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, is the only main character not planning on returning. After the original series ended, the Olsen twins built their own entertainment empire by starring in a slate of successful movies since the age of 6 and building a lucrative fashion brand. The revived series approaches this major setback by announcing that Michelle lives in New York working on her fashion empire. This decision leaves her storyline open-ended, allowing for the possibility of a future guest spot or return to the series. Still, will Michelle’s absence be enough of a deterrent to prevent a successful revival of the beloved Full House?
Michelle was an important character for the original series because she often acted as a comedic relief during more dramatic moments between other family members. Furthermore, Full House did a fantastic job of showing her development throughout the series as she grew from a young toddler to a school-aged child.
However, this does not mean that her character is necessary for the completion of the Tanner family. Many of the new characters that are introduced, specifically DJ’s youngest son Tommy, can fulfill the same sort of role as comedic relief and mediator as he ages. There are also the now college-aged Katsopolis twins (Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit) who can provide a similar perspective to that of Michelle’s character.
The main issue with Michelle’s refusal to return is the missing dynamic between her and Uncle Jesse (John Stamos). She performed an important role by humanizing some of Jesse’s reckless behavior, and often serving as his confidant. This dynamic was crucial to the success of Full House, as it softened some of the intense dramatic scenes and allowed for the series’ to share its famous life-lessons. While Fuller House may not be able to recreate the specific dynamic with Michelle, it arguably will be more interesting to see the lasting effects that the dynamic has had on Jesse. The dynamic can be replaced by the relationship between Jesse and his two sons, as well as Jesse's development into his later years—potentially parodying his earlier growth into middle age from a young and reckless twenty-something. These storylines leave more than enough room for an interesting look into Jesse’s mind, but if either of the Olsen twins decide to return for a later role, the series could also explore how distance and age has affected their relationship.
Fuller House has a chance at success in part due to its large returning cast along with the return of Full House creator and head writer Jeff Franklin. With a following like that of the original series, Fuller House will not have trouble gaining viewers, but rather keeping them. The success or failure of the series will most likely be determined by its ability to adapt the format to today—almost 20 years after the original series first debuted. Franklin’s ability to adjust the humor to today’s standard will ultimately determine whether the series is worth watching.