By: Orell Rayhan
As a child, every Thursday night around 7 pm my parents would call my two siblings and I down to watch our favorite show, Full House. As we watched, I would sink into the couch mesmerized by the show. There was something so different about the show, but I could never put my finger on it.
In the 1980s, the percentage of children living in a family with two married parents in their first marriage significantly decreased from 73% — the height of the Baby Boom — to 61% (“Parenting in America”), making it the perfect time for one of America’s favorite shows Full House to air. In the show, a family sadly lost their mother in a terrible drunk driving accident leaving the father, Danny Tanner, to raise his three girls, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle. At first temporarily, his wife’s brother, Jesse, an Elvis wannabe, and his goofy childhood best friend, Joey, moved in.(Welch)
This family dynamic was what people needed as the number of children living in what’s called a “nuclear” family declined. Full House took the first step into acceptance of families differences, paving the way for other shows, such as Modern Family, to do so as well.
Looking back at sitcoms my parents adored watching, the families always contained the “typical” family with a mother, father, and three children. The Brady Bunch aired in 1969 and demonstrated what Americans believed was the proper nuclear family. Multiple times throughout the show, the limits of gender roles at the time were pushed. The daughters of the family, Jan, Cindy, and Marcia, continually attempted to do what they boys were doing,like yard work or playing games outside, but always ended up going back to play with dolls and tend the kitchen.(Do)
By looking at this show, I was able to realize how much Full House has reshaped America’s perception of gender roles. Not having the option to follow the typical gender roles, the three fathers in the show had to fill the gap left by the girls’ mother. Furthermore, the actor who played Mike Brady, Robert Reed, in the show was gay. At the time, being homosexual was not even a conversation that was brought up in Hollywood, so in order to play the part he had to hide his sexuality , causing personal frustration and anger throughout his life (“Robert Reed”).
Full House paved the way for the show Modern Family by opening up the door for the conversation of same-gender parents. In the past, media and shows have viewed homosexual relationships as unnatural and uncomfortable, but Modern Family, an extremely progressive show that highlights all the non-traditional family elements, has demonstrated otherwise.(Berman)
In the show, two of the main characters, Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker, are working toward getting married. At first, Mitchell’s father, Jay Pritchett, is not supportive of the gay relationship and is standoffish, but eventually Jay was able to open up to the idea of the marriage due to his great love for his son. The show encouraged gay culture and marriage to be in mainstream media, making society more accepting of it. As large increase of support for same sex-marrage increased, same-sex marriage was legalized on June 26, 2015. Without Full House taking the first step into accepting families differences, the idea of gay marriage in Modern Family most likely wouldn’t have even crossed the minds of the producers.
One thing that I am sad to say is that Full House didn’t pave the way for cultural diversity. Throughout the show, they were lacking a diverse cast, with every main character being Caucasian. Today, shows have paved their own way. Shows like Blackish and Fresh Off The Boat, sitcoms that have first aired between 2014-15 and are still being aired, have casts that are African American and Asian respectively. The shows are still able to be funny and teach a lesson, similar to Full House, but also were able to tackle diversity effortlessly. Even after watching 13 episodes of the first season of Fuller House, the spinoff of Full House, I was still disappointed that they have failed to include some cultural diversity. HOW RUDE! All in all, it was still an extremely influential show that has paved the way for many other shows.