full house

Exit 69. Why did I stop watching?

Full House, a popular television sitcom from my preteen and teen years, has been in the news again.  It was one of the great campy family sitcoms of that era (1987-95), but the family it featured was very atypical.  Danny Tanner was a local TV personality and the widowed father of three little girls, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle.  At the beginning of the series, Danny’s brother-in-law Jesse and best friend Joey moved in with him to help take care of the girls.  As the series continued, more and more people ended up living under the same roof: Rebecca, Danny’s television co-star, became a love interest for Uncle Jesse, and when they got married, she moved in with them.  They ended up having twin boys in the later seasons.  DJ’s best friend Kimmy, the requisite annoying neighbor that every sitcom of that era had, was also a regular character throughout the series, and DJ had a boyfriend in some of the later seasons as well.

As I said, the show has been getting attention again lately for two reasons.  First was the announcement that Netflix is working on developing a sequel of sorts with many of the original actors.  This show will follow a similar premise to the original, but starring the next generation.  DJ is now an adult whose husband has recently passed away, and Stephanie and Kimmy move in to help her take care of her kids.

The other, more hilarious reason, is because of a video the San Francisco Giants baseball team released last week.  Full House was set in San Francisco, and the Giants have a Full House tribute night coming up in September.  The team made a video where they reenacted the opening sequence of Full House, featuring Giants players.  They reenacted scenes from the opening sequence perfectly.  (As an added bonus, Dave Coulier, the actor who played Joey, appears in character at the end.)  (If you don’t remember the show, you’ll appreciate the video below if you click here and watch this one first.  The opening sequence changed several times over the show’s run as the characters aged, but this one seems to have all of the scenes that were referenced in the Giants video.)

(Note: the video I originally linked had been removed by early 2016.  Here’s a link to a bootleg copy on YouTube: https://youtu.be/tiqQEbEf4PY)

So all this renewed attention on one of my regular childhood TV shows got me thinking: Why did I stop watching it?

The show ran for eight seasons, and I’m pretty sure I stopped watching somewhere around season 6.  In researching this post, I’ve read about some of the major plot developments in seasons 7 and 8, and I don’t remember them at all.  The final season would have been my freshman year at UC Davis, and I didn’t watch much TV at all that year.  I vaguely remember being in my dorm room in the spring of 1995 and getting a phone call from Mom in which she mentioned that she had just watched the series finale of Full House, and it was kind of sad.

This is very unlike me.  I’m the type that once I get into a TV show, I stay loyal to it until the end, even when most of its fans have decided that the show has jumped the shark and it’s time to move on.  I watched all 13 seasons of King of the Hill.  I watched all nine seasons of X-Files, even the final season where Mulder and Scully weren’t even in in much.  I’m still watching new episodes of The Simpsons and Survivor.  I had always assumed that I stopped watching Full House because I outgrew it.  It was a very kid-friendly show, and as the show went on, it seemed like there were more and more episodes where so much of the plot revolved around Michelle doing something cute.  The producers seemed to be trying to capitalize on that too much.  Combine that with the fact that I took five AP classes during season 7 and went away to college during season 8, and it seems perfectly understandable that Full House would fall to the bottom of my list of priorities.  But then I remembered something else, something I had forgotten for 22 years, that I think affected my Full House watching as well.

At some point during high school, I remember overhearing one of my friends say that Full House was lame.  I’m not going to mention any names, and this is not someone I’ve stayed in touch with, although if he were ever to, say, send me a Facebook friend request, I would gladly accept.  Some of my high school friends reading this will probably know who I’m talking about.  This guy was in a lot of the same classes as me, and I must admit I admired him for all the time I saw him stand up to extremely liberal history teachers with his opposing views.  But sometimes he kind of bugged me too, although it certainly wasn’t intentional on his part and I hold no grudges today.  Anyway, this guy had a disproportionate influence on me for a couple years.  For example, I started listening more closely to one of his favorite bands during that time, after my reactions to their earlier work had ranged from neutral to what-the-crap-is-this.  I still today love much of that band’s work from that time period, even the song that originally made me say what-the-crap-is-this, although I’m not as fond of their newer stuff.  I don’t know that he is the only reason I stopped watching Full House, but now that I think about it, hearing him say that Full House was lame certainly got me thinking about the fact that maybe I had outgrown the show.

What makes me sad about all this is that this is exactly the kind of behavior pattern that I have spoken against.  It seems that now as an adult, the idea of being yourself, not caring what others think, has become so ingrained in me as the right way to live, but here I was as a teenager, letting my equivalent of Kimmy dictate what I watch and listen to, doing exactly what I’ve told so many people not to.  Everyone has their moments of weakness.  I used to be influenced a lot by what the people around me think, and I don’t think that this is anything that can ever be shaken completely.  It’s hard to find that balance of living your own life while surrounded by others.  And, of course, there are moments when other people’s opinions of you really do matter.  I’m not going to decide one day to show up to work naked on the grounds that I feel like living my own life my way, for example.  I’ve had such a history of being too self-conscious about what other people think.  I don’t want to live life that way as an adult.  But it’s hard when people, and culture in general, can be so judgmental.  And this is why it is so important that I keep encouraging people to be themselves.

And maybe someday, I’ll have to go back and find a way to watch seasons 7 and 8 of Full House.