Every generation has that TV parent that we wish for.
When I was growing up, that parent was Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) in Full House. Danny was a widower who was raising his three young daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and best friend. When the series premiered in 1987, the premise of three men raising young girls without a maternal presence was revolutionary. Widows with children (i.e. The Partridge Family) was not a novel narrative. But a widower in the same situation represented a change in the family sitcom and how society was changing in general.
Though Danny was a bit corny as fathers go, he did his best to raise his girls. Like many TV dads, he represented an ideal image of fatherhood that may not have been entirely realistic, but we loved him anyway.
Away from his role as the Tanner family patriarch, Saget was a comedian whose jokes were not exactly appropriate for prime time television.
I haven’t watched this show in a long time, but it still makes me laugh. It is one of those programs that you can sit down with the family and watch without having to explain adult concepts to young children.
The premise of Young Rock is that The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson) is running for President in 2032. He sits down with an interviewer to tell his story.
On Kenan (Kenan Thompson) the title character is a television host and a recent widower living in Atlanta. Supported by his brother, Gary (Chris Redd) and his father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson), he is attempting to put his life together after his wife’s passing.
I told myself that I wanted to give both shows on a shot. Now that I have, I can move on. Young Rock is boring and Kenan is just a modern reboot of Full House.
Do I recommend them? No.
Kenan and Young Rock air consecutively at 8:00 and 8:30 on NBC on Tuesday.
Full House was the story of a widower, Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) who needs help raising his three young daughters, D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) and Michelle (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen). He turns to his best friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier)and brother-in-law, Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos). Full House was sort of the late 80’s reboot of the classic 1950’s comedy. It was the standard family sitcom, but also represented the modern era with men taking a larger role in what was once considered to be women’s work.
Is it corny and predictable? Yes. Does it have the “very special episodes” and the sappy music that tells the audience that the child is about to learn a lesson? Of course. But it is also a show about a family and that is where the audience is hooked. We all have families and we can relate to the family we are watching on-screen.
Being single and childless is easy. Outside of your professional responsibilities, you do whatever you like with whomever you like, no questions asked.
But when you have a child, everything changes.
In the 80’s classic, 3 Men and a Baby (1987), Peter (Tom Selleck), Michael (Steve Guttenberg) & Jack (Ted Danson) are living the single life. Nothing impedes their bachelor lifestyle, that is until Jack’s ex drops the child he did not know existed into their laps.
Can these grown men, for whom parenting is the last thing they expected to do, take care of this child?
This plot line was a trend in the 80’s. Whether it was Full House, Who’s The Boss or this film, men stepping into the traditional female role of childcare was often played for laughs. But it also represented the fact that the gender lines and responsibilities were beginning to blur.
The 1980’s were a bridge in America and on television. The world was changing and the characters and plots were reflecting that change.
In Full House (1987-1995), Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) has just lost his wife. With three young daughters to raise, Danny enlists his brother-in-law, Jesse Katsoplis (John Stamos) and his best friend, Joey (Dave Coulier) to help with the parenting. Preteen DJ (Candace Cameron Bure) is a normal preteen girl. Elementary schooler Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) is not shy about sharing her opinions. Baby Michelle (played by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen) is an adorable baby who will become an iconic part of the television landscape of the 1980’s. Add in the nosy and annoying girl next door, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber) and you have one hec of a television show.
Looking back, the show is pretty formulaic in terms of family sitcoms. But in having men in a role that is traditionally assigned to women was revolutionary in 1987. Two generations think it’s normal to see a father involved in their children’s lives and not just someone who comes home for dinner and pays the bills.
Two decades after the show’s ending, a sequel of sorts, Fuller House is set to debut a generation after Full House ended. DJ is now a widow with small children and enlists her younger sister and best friend to help with her own children as Jesse and Joey did a generation ago.
Do I recommend Full House? As someone who grew up watching it, I would say yes, for nostalgia’s sake. But my tastes in television are a little more sophisticated these days, so in that case I would say no.