I watched the entire first season of Netflix’s Fuller House in a state of utter astonishment. And now, after the fact, I think it has altered me for life. This is what tripping on ayahuasca must be like.
On one hand, I deeply admire creator Jeff Franklin and the entire cast’s ability to match the precise tone of the series it’s picking up from, the sitcom Full House, which ran from 1987-95. Watching the old gang back together feels like home, and (here’s the other hand) I haven’t felt the bile that comes with it in the back of my throat to this extent in ages.
See, Fuller House is corny. It’s cornier than a movie theater floor. It’s cornier than Frosty the Snowman getting high out of his pipe in Nebraska. It’s cornier than the two toilets in a seven-person family’s house after a cookout. Every “joke” is punctuated with piped-in laughter, making it canned-corny.
The laugh track is, in fact, useful because you probably wouldn’t be able to identify much of the humor here without it. The jokes are so bad, they’d be laughed off popsicle sticks. They swing from banal sitcom tripe to coyly self-reflexive yuks (a joke about The View, on which Candace Cameron Bure appears, and Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” which is long rumored to be about Dave Coulier) to blatantly self-reflexive yuks to contemporary cultural references in service of freshening up a decades-old premise.
Embarrassing isn’t the word. This is like witnessing at a train wreck in a group of people who are loudly insisting that what you just saw was hilarious. It’s gallingly surreal. Fuller House is the worst bad sitcom I’ve ever seen. It’s worse than Full House (which, even as a tasteless 10-year-old, I knew was bad). It’s worse than Small Wonder (which, as a tasteless 7-year-old, I loved). It’s worse than Room and Bored, the fake bad sitcom portrayed on the first season of HBO’s The Comeback. Fuller House is something Kimmy Gibbler would watch.
It all amounts to something quite amazing, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Above, I’ve collected what are in my estimation the most groan-worthy of the show’s jokes (not included are the several callbacks to the original series’s catchphrases—“How rude!”; “Oh, Mylanta!”; “Have mercy!”; “You got it, dude!”—as well as a baby farting in Stephanie’s face). Below is maybe the most hard-to-believe moment in the first season’s 13 episodes: a Bollywood-style dance number performed by most of the cast. If you squint hard, you can see a person of color or two (I think).
Fuller House, by the way, was just renewed for a second season. How can they possibly top this?