Nichole Rosanova is a senior media studies major.
Last Friday the first season of “Fuller House,” the sequel to the popular sitcom “Full House” that ran from 1987-1995, premiered on Netflix. Jeff Franklin returns as the series’ Executive Producer, along with most of the familiar cast members reprising their roles in either a lead or special appearance.
The premise of the sequel sitcom is nearly the exact same. The show takes place in San Francisco, predominantly in the iconic home on Broderick Street, and its main character is a newly widowed mother of three who enlists the help of her sister and best friend. Which all begs the question: did we really need this new show or was Jeff Franklin simply aching for another mainstream hit in his career of thirty-plus years? Well, Jeff, both the timing and the show itself couldn’t have been more off.
In the first episode of “Fuller House,” DJ is struggling with balancing her new life as a single mother. Realizing his daughter’s dismay, Danny Tanner lets DJ and her family live in her childhood home indefinitely as opposed to putting it up for sale as originally intentioned, while he’s beginning his new career in L.A. Shortly after his proposal, Stephanie Tanner (whose character is now broke amidst her up-and-coming music career), and Kimmy Gibbler (the freeloading neighbor) along with her teenage daughter Ramona (also a freeloader, only worsened by the fact that she’s a spoiled teenager) agree to move in to lend a helping hand. So to clarify, in a two-minute scene, a broken family of four, a struggling musician, and a mother-daughter duo (a total of seven people) are gifted with this real estate gold mine and are essentially living there for free.
Now, of course, it’s totally reasonable for a father to come to his daughter’s rescue. And given the means of this family, it’s a totally plausible gift to give. But this family is fictional, and they’re living in a city where the struggle to find housing every day is a very real problem. His grandiose gesture is simply a slap in the face to the residents of this city who face homelessness each day, residents whom we all encounter on a daily basis. To disregard this reality is a further reminder that “Fuller House,” even though it takes place in San Francisco, has no regards to what this city is truly like, and I would even argue that it does so purposefully.
Following Danny Tanner’s proposal to allow DJ to live in the home, Uncle Jesse offers a quick objection considering the home’s worth today. According to realtor.com, a 5 bedroom home in San Francisco similar to one in the series would now cost upwards for 3 million dollars, whereas in the 90’s it would have only cost around 725,000 dollars. This inflation is largely due to the rapid gentrification of the city, with a rising statistic of displaced tenants being one of the repercussions. According to San Francisco’s Rent Board Annual Eviction report, there were 2,120 notices of evictions filed for the year ending Feb. 28, 2015, a 54.7% increase over five years ago. The show’s writers could have easily followed Jesse’s comment with this statistic, but instead they followed with a laugh track.
In addition, every opportunity the show gets to highlight the people of San Francisco they opt out. The series mostly takes place in the familiar house, and there are only a couple locations where the show branches out; namely Chinatown, where DJ works as a veterinarian. And to be honest, I’m only taking an educated guess here; it’s possible that this is another elaborate set since all we see is an occasional 3 second shot of intricate red awnings and market signs, clustered around a sign that reads “Harmon Pet Clinic.” We don’t see the iconic archway, not to mention, the Chinatown community, all of which are of essence to San Francisco’s history.
The only members of the community we see aside from the Tanners are giants fans, all of whom are portrayed by angry belligerent white men throwing a tantrum towards Stephanie, believing her to be the jinxed love interest of the San Francisco Giants’ right fielder Hunter Pence. Because clearly, the Giants’ poor batting average is the only problem this city cares about, right?
Arguably, “Full House” wasn’t any better at portraying the city beyond a few pretty shots of the Golden Gate bridge, so why should I expect any different from “Fuller House,” and is it fair for me to even pose this opinion? San Francisco serves only as a backdrop to this sitcom. It may as well be located anywhere else (in fact, it’s filmed in L.A), and the story arch would stay the same for the most part. So why have the show take place in San Francisco to begin with if the writers won’t take the time to develop characters and plot lines that resonate with the community? It’s just plain lazy. For television, the setting is half the story, it’s the inspiration. What would “Seinfeld” or “Broad City” be without New York City? Manhattan has an essential role to each of these popular television shows, and the location is half the punch line for many of their popular episodes. But instead, the only location reminder that “Fuller House” offers is a lame joke about pot brownies. But thanks to Colorado’s Amendment 64, Alaska’s Measure 2, and District of Columbia’s Initiative 71, this joke can be lame in other places besides California.
As a familiar show with a die-hard fanbase, “Fuller House” had the potential to highlight the many problems this city needs help addressing to an audience that may have been consequently oblivious from the guise of the original series. But instead, the show took the safe route of telling corny jokes. I’m embarrassed that the Tanners and their spoiled ideologies are the mainstream characters representing a city that I love. I’m disappointed in the producers of the show who would reboot the series during a pivotal time in this city, only to neglect or avoid the issues that need to be addressed.
Photo courtesy of Netflix