A 'Full House' of memories

When it comes to childhood television shows, there were few as dear to me as Full House. Starting in the late ’80s and running eight seasons, the show was massively successful — so successful, in fact, that several years after its end, I got to experience its excellence in reruns.

The show starred Bob Saget as Danny Tanner, a single father of three girls: D.J., Stephanie and Michelle. John Stamos played the hunky Uncle Jesse and Dave Coulier starred as Joey, a goofy friend of Danny’s who lived with the family in San Francisco to help raise the kids. Each episode ran 30 minutes and followed roughly the same formula — one of the family members would find themselves in some form of trouble, but at the end the character would sit down with the others and talk through it while the same sappy instrumental song played in the background. Whether it involved Stephanie accidentally driving the car through the window, Michelle running away from home or D.J. not getting into Stanford, the Tanner family always talked it out.

As cheesy as the premise of the sitcom was, as a child, I happily accepted everything that was fed to me by the show’s producers, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Full House covered just about every problem a family could have. Some seemed trivial, but all encompassed some greater theme, such as the importance of being honest, the bond of sisterhood and the value of family. While so many shows focus exclusively on either the lives of adults or the lives of children, Full House found success in combining aspects of each. Uncle Jesse’s dating problems were portrayed just as prominently as Stephanie’s fear of the dentist — the strong focus on family values meant that every family member is valued equally.

And the show never had a dull moment. Each episode, from the pilot where Uncle Jesse and Joey move in, to the finale where Michelle falls off her horse and must regain her memory, brings something new. Each season followed the growth of each character and their relationships with one another, creating a bond between viewers and the show that all producers strive for.

Jesse started the series as a ladies’ man musician with no serious relationship, but he grew into a reliable uncle with a wife, the likeable Aunt Becky (Lori Loughlin), and two twin sons. Danny stayed a goofy single dad with a variety of relationships, the most significant being an engagement to “Wake Up, San Francisco!” co-host Vicky, which unfortunately was short-lived. The three girls grew in an even more pronounced way. D.J. progressed from a middle-schooler in her first relationship to an intelligent young adult ready to graduate high school. Stephanie, once toothless, grew into a sarcastic but still hilarious teenager, and Michelle, who started the series as a baby, became the pre-teen Mary-Kate and Ashley we all knew and loved in the ’90s.
Full House_ was never perfect, and looking back it’s too easy to see how silly the dramatic music and predictable endings really were. But as a child, the Tanner family was there for me, and as the theme song goes, “Everywhere you look, there’s a heart, a hand to hold on to.”

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