Whatever happened to predictability? Well, Fuller House Season 2 shows it to us, and in spades.
Their writers, who from what I can tell are still coming out of their stasis that they’ve been in since the 90s, decided to not only rehash the tired formula of Season 1, but to rehash the exact same plot-lines, this time with heaps and heaps of offensive jokes added in!
Remember DJ’s love triangle? Still there! DJ’s son Jackson trying to “claw” his way out of the “friend zone” with Ramona’s very disinterested friend, Lola? Happens again! Kimmy’s husband (soon to be ex-husband, and current fiancé) inexplicably moved in and not on the racing circuit? Well what other accent would we be able to make fun of? Danny comes back with a mid-life crisis. Becki returns as the baby-obsessed aunt who, despite being in her 60s and having two adult children, wants another baby. Joey, who lives 6 hours away, is asked to watch the kids and is inept.
Heck, even DJ’s middle son Max, the only person on the show who eschews traditional gender roles without comment, was forced to be strikingly STRAIGHT (he’s 9 years old…) in the final hour.
There is absolutely nothing new. And in fact the few things that did work from Season 1 were completely ruined.
Jodie Sweetin Stephanie Tanner is still trying to launch her singing career, only this time instead of being a good role model for positive consent and sexual autonomy without judgement, she is jammed into a relationship with the most underwhelming and distressingly stupid man possible for the entirety of the season. She still remains a bit of a bright-spot, mostly due to the fact that Sweetin out-acts her peers, but to call her plot-line “formulaic” is putting it mildly. This especially stings.
The only other source of vague contentment from last year—4th wall-breaking jokes—got scaled back too. There were a couple at the expense of the studio audience, one moment where Stephanie remarks how nice it is when child actors turn out well (yikes, though hopefully empowering for her to be able to joke?), and of course, the annual shaming of Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen:
Other than that, everything was played straight.
Which brings us to the gay jokes. Frankly, “gays are funny” may have well be the theme of the season. This began in the first episode when Matt and Steve, the two mediocre love interests for DJ, came bounding in after spending much of their summer together, talking about how they had found love. But ho-ho, not with each other!
From there, we were treated to at least one gay joke an episode, including (I shit you not) one at the expense of Cosmo, the family dog. He had a crush on a male rabbit. There is one that is passable in the final episode, only because I’m quite sure it was the writers’ unsubtle attempt to troll Candace Cameron Bure, but otherwise, we are just reminded over and over again that we’re expected to laugh at the mere suggestion that a character might be experiencing same-sex attraction.
Interestingly, it seemed like they might have been doing what they could to code Max as gay (it was not subtle, though not without problems), especially since he mentioned his crush on Blake Shelton more than once. But no, for reasons unexplained he needed to be given a girl as a love interest. I’m not sure I even want to tackle the possibility that maybe this is supposed to be wonderful bi-representation when A) in the same episode they had jokes that banked on erasing any possibility of a bisexual step dancer, and B) THE KID IS NINE.
As a side-note, if someone could explain to me why it’s funny for two third-graders to project adult romantic relationships onto each other, I’m all ears.
Fortunately, it’s not just gay jokes that made this second season a thoroughly offensive mess. It’s the fact that once again, Fuller House relied on dated humor, as well as dated morality. For instance, when Jackson was whining about being in the “friend zone” again (his choice of words, not mine), DJ gave him a pep-talk by saying “any girl would be lucky to have you.”
It really is a damn shame that Aunt Michelle couldn’t have popped up in that moment to explain positive consent.
In fact, there’s also some truly horrible parenting on display throughout the show, often coupled with take-aways that should just not fly today—there’s no other way of putting it. For example, those of you who are not spoiler phobic might find this synopsis of Jackson’s episode 2 plot-line rather illuminating.
In an attempt to “claw his way out” of the friend zone again, Jackson joins the school football team, thinking it will impress Lola. She mercifully doesn’t give two shits, but DJ is worried that Jackson will get hurt. So she confronts her son and tells him he has more of a “ping-pong body”. He gets visibly upset and mostly hides in his room after this body-shaming, so DJ and Kimmy then decide to team up and confront Lola with “good cop, bad cop.” They strong-arm the 13-year-old into telling Jackson to quit playing football, since he’s only doing it for her anyway. When she agrees, they high-five about their great parenting.
Actually speaking of great parenting, there’s the fact that Kimmy’s husband has moved in without the approval of anyone else in the house, and several jokes are made about this. Which, okay, except Ramona, their 13-year-old daughter who you’d think would want to know the marital status of her parents, just laughs along with all of it. That’s realistic. Luckily, other than that oddity, Ramona’s scripting is a bit of a bright spot. She’s age-appropriate and her friendship with Lola is actually kind of touching, even if she too falls victim to outdated tropes. Did you know basic decency is the same thing as acceptable romantic behavior?
To be perfectly fair, not every subplot is like this. There’s still plenty of episodes used to hammer home the message that family love is important and you’re always valued, a la the Full House of the 90s. It can sometimes feel nice.
However, it’s also instantly overshadowed quite a bit by the same storytelling that once again portrayed Steve as a stalker (and thus very romantic), cast moral judgements on mothers who own a vape pen (they live in San Francisco for crying-out-loud), and for some ungodly reason thought this joke would land:
There are also numerous plot contrivances, moments that will make you go, “no one would actually act like this,” and season-long character arcs are a mess, though I’m not sure Full House would have passed such standards either. Be it known, if the time ever comes to don our latex gloves for a more thorough (and spoiler-filled) analysis of the season, there is more than enough problematic material to discuss for each main character. Perhaps because of how much I liked her last season, Stephanie’s was the most frustrating for me to watch unfold, but there wasn’t much dancing for joy elsewhere.
One season of this was fine. It was a fun trip down memory lane, complete with the cringing-at-jokes that might have landed 20 years ago we experience when we revisit old media. Two seasons? Any initial charm has worn off, and we’re instead left with a show that feels almost sinister in its nostalgia. There’s some things we shouldn’t go back to. Fuller House is definitely one of them.