It’s 5 a.m. My wife is sleeping in the next room, I’m drinking hot chocolate to stay awake, and the only noise, save for the occasional chair squeak when I remember I haven’t moved in an hour, is Stephanie Tanner exclaiming “how rude,” and Uncle Jesse singing an Elvis song, and Kimmy Gibbler speaking in the third person more often than George Remus. I’m on my fifth episode of Fuller House, Netflix’s sequel series to the equally beloved and panned TGIF “classic” Full House, and I can’t stop watching. What’s wrong with me?
I’ve been asking myself that exact question for years. I normally don’t “do” bad television — hate-watching seems like a pointless exercise in soul-crashing futility (except for The Newsroom; that was fun to hate). But the Tanners have a hold on me, and they haven’t let go since the mid-1990s, when I watched my first episode of Full House. I don’t remember which one it was, but I’m guessing the kids did something wacky, Danny acted like a clean freak, Jesse the wild-child, Joey the man-child, everyone learned a lesson, Michelle said “You got it, dude,” and the episode ended with a group hug. Maybe it’s not a winning formula, but it was certainly a successful one: Full House was a top-25 show for ABC in six of its eight seasons, peaking in 1991-92 when 17 million people groaned at Mr. Woodchuck’s puns every week.
I wasn’t one of those 17 million. I’m sure I caught some stray episodes when they first aired, but my relationship with Full House — which, even as a Simpsons– and Roseanne-loving child, I knew was sappy trash — didn’t start until the show was over and on syndication. Thanks to TBS, ABC Family, and Nick at Nite, I’ve probably seen every episode five times, which, considering there are 192 total episodes, means I’ve wasted 480 hours of my life on “Blowey” and the gang. That’s not to say I haven’t squandered my precious seconds on Earth on other bad TV shows, especially other bad TGIF shows, like Perfect Strangers, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. (Have you watched one recently? It’s not as fun as you remember.)
But none of them grabbed me like Full House did, and still does.
Working from home, as many professional #content generators do, means that I’m in front of the television all day. I rarely turn it on, though, because a) I prefer listening to music while working (once I’m finished with my Fuller House binge-a-thon, I’m going to put on Carly Rae Jepsen, who sings the show’s poppier theme), and b) I can’t just put any show on in the background. Friends is too loud, 30 Rock is too distractingly great, The Price is Right is too engrossing. But during the evening, when I’m writing and my wife is milling around the apartment, we keep Full House on more often than any 28- and 30-year-old adults should. It’s not that either one of us really loves the show, either. It’s just always been there, like a friend of a friend who says she only needs a place to crash for a week, but ends up staying 15 years.