Full House: How It Represents the Late 80s/Early 90s

Topics: Family, Full House, Family values Pages: 12 (4476 words) Published: September 17, 2010
Full House: Traditional Themes of Morality, Late Eighties Mentality

The transition from the multicultural era of the eighties to the postnetwork era of the nineties triggered abrupt changes in American media and culture. [6] From fashions to family life, relationships, and attitudes, many new cultural elements subsequently changed television portrayals of ordinary American culture within this time period. More specifically, the culture of the eighties is often characterized by the rise of MTV and megastars, techno music and club drugs, and popular fashions such as leather, leggings, and Ray Bans. Eighties culture can be described as the ‘bombdigity’ and nineties culture can be described as more toned down, moral, and ‘sweet’. Stylistically, high-waist mom jeans and petite baby doll dresses were ever present throughout this decade. Furthermore, the culture of the nineties was much more calm, family oriented, and down to earth. Full House is a family sitcom that aired during this time of cultural change. Full House struggled to encompass both the disappearing culture of the eighties and the emerging culture of the nineties. Nonetheless, while early episodes of Full House showed off late-eighties retro styles and peculiar attitudes, the television program also introduced new, unconventional portrayals of men and emphasized the importance of morality and family values in the nineties. Full House originally aired on primetime television on ABC from September 1987 to May 1995. Today, the series is still syndicated on many channels. The program depicts the simple, ordinary lives of an unconventional San Francisco upper middle class ‘family’. The Tanner family was very unconventional due to the family’s unique structure, three single males working together to raise three young girls. Danny Tanner, father to DJ Tanner, Stephanie Tanner, and Michelle Tanner, was left to raise his children alone when his wife was killed in a drunk driving accident. Initially left on his own, his best friend and his brother-in-law stepped in to help him raise his three young girls. The Full House characters all bring something different to the show. The three father figures on the show are the nurturing, friendly, neat freak, Danny Tanner, the rock ‘n’ roll heartthrob, ‘Uncle’ Jesse Katsopolis, and the dorky aspiring comedian, ‘Uncle’ Joey Gladstone. The three young girls are the pre-adolescent, eldest sister, DJ Tanner, the hysterical, mischievous middle child, Stephanie Tanner, and the adorable baby, Michelle Tanner. Like many suburban upper middle class families, the Tanner family also had a trusting family pet, Comet Tanner. The plot of this program typically incorporates simple family or personal problems, which are usually resolved by the end of each episode. Characters’ achievements or disappointments are also common episode themes. Most of the time, these problems, achievements, and disappointments are ordinary; they could easily occur in any family at any given time or place, which makes Full House relatable to its audience. Raymond Williams, one of the founders of British Cultural Studies and author of Culture and Society, suggested that culture is ordinary; he spread the notion that working class culture does exist and that ‘the masses’ are not just an unfamiliar group of people, but they are neighbors, friends, and coworkers. [5] Thus, Full House is ‘ordinary’ in that it can be enjoyed by ‘the masses’, or regular people. Perhaps, one of the easiest ways to guess what time period a television show was produced in is by the visual, textual, and musical elements that accompany the opening credits of the program. The theme song of the sitcom, “Everywhere You Look”, recorded by theme song writer, Jesse Frederick, happens to be an extremely appropriate theme song for Full House. The initial lyrics of the song signal that times are changing; “Whatever happened to predictability/The milk man, the paper boy, evening TV?/ How did I get to...

References: [1] Everywhere You Look Lyrics. (n.d.). Lyrics Mode. Retrieved March, 2010, from
[2] Full House [Television broadcast]. (1988, January 28). YouTube. Retrieved from
[3] Klumas, Amy L., & Marchant, Thomas. (1994). Images of Men in Popular Sitcoms. Journal of Men’s Studies, 2(3), 269. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from Research Library.
[4] Weiss, Audrey J, & Wilson, Barbara J. (1996). Emotional portrayals in family television series that are popular among children. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 40(1), 1. Retrieved March 23, 2010, from Research Library.
[5] Williams, Raymond. (1958). Culture and Society. London: Chatto and Windus.
[6] Scannell, Paddy. (2010). Lecture: Postnetwork Television
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