Powered by a potent blend of nostalgia and curiosity, Fuller House became something of a sensation when it resuscitated Full House after a 20-year gap in 2015 and focused on the now-grown Tanner children (with ample cameos from the rest of the cast, sans any Olsen twins) and telling stories that appealed to families. As the show heads into its second season, though, series creator Jeff Franklin acknowledges that there is no way to recreate the “excitement” that surrounded the show in season one. Instead, Franklin hopes to build on the appeal of his cast (from DJ to Uncle Jesse and the new crop of kids) and the show’s successes while continuing in his effort to tell stories with a broad appeal.
In an interview with Uproxx, Franklin discusses those pursuits and also talks about working with Netflix, learning the ropes from Garry Shandling and Garry Marshall, and the possibility of a Vicki comeback.
You worked with both Garry Marshall (Laverne & Shirley) and Garry Shandling (It’s Gary Shandling’s Show) in the early years of your career. Can you talk a little bit about the impact that they had on you as a writer?
It was huge. I was in an improvisational comedy class with Garry Shandling when I was 22-years-old. You know, Garry really took me under his wing. He was a writer/producer on Welcome Back, Kotter at the time, and he really, I don’t know, saw something in me. But he was the one who taught me how to write a sitcom and spent weekends for months working with me in his spare time. Didn’t have to do that and was such a pivotal figure in my life.
Then Garry Marshall was the one who gave me my first job and not only taught me how to write but gave me the first opportunity I had to run a show and taught me how to be a show runner, and taught me all kinds of life lessons in the process. I was close friends with Garry Shandling and Garry Marshall my entire life. They were the ones I credit with giving me my start.
How do you embrace the challenge of trying to build on the success of season one as opposed to relying on the nostalgia factor?
What happened last year was insanity. We had 15, 16 million people watch a trailer with nothing but a couch in it. So I mean, there was so much excitement and anticipation about the show coming back. There’s really no way to recreate that.
Now it’s really about, did people like what they saw, are they going to come back again? You know, it’s a show now. All that nostalgia craziness is not going to be there this time. Yeah, it’s really about are we keeping the audience entertained and engaged and excited? Are we taking our characters on a ride that our audience is going to enjoy? Is it new and fun and fresh, and yet it still sort of continues that history of Full House? So I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting to see.
We won’t really know the numbers, exactly. Netflix doesn’t share them. It seemed like our fans really did enjoy the first season and hopefully they’ll all come back and check out season two, and now it just becomes engaging them with our new kids and a whole new take. So we’ll see what happens.
Is that at all frustrating as someone who is building a show and trying to build on the success of the first: trying to gauge that success without any kind of direct numbers to get a sense of what worked and what didn’t work?
Well, it’s different. In a way, it’s sort of freeing because Netflix is constantly telling us, “Don’t worry about the numbers. Just make a good show. That’s all we care about.” Although, I’m sure they look at their numbers, and it makes sense to them from a business perspective to keep us going. We know that that’s what’s going to drive future pickups, but I think we’re doing really well.