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Fuller House Season 2 released on Netflix earlier this month. I, being a fan of both Full House and Season 1 of Fuller House, watched the show in my free time. On the surface, Season 2 seems to be more progressive than season one, with more LGBTQ+ representation as well as more challenging of gender norms. However, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been tricked and cheated by the writers of Fuller House into believing they were progressive (especially since they literally have the cast members proclaim that they are anti-Trump and that they are for a large variety of progressive ideals).

When thinking critically about the show, however, it seems that, sure, there are many progressive ideas, from sustainable backyard organic farming to female empowerment, and the show likes to challenge gender norms and expectations, but that certain things are only there as a joke. That is mostly the LGBTQ+ themed parts.

Take, for instance, the very first scene of Season 2. Season 1 ended with protagonist DJ deciding to take time to figure herself out before she decides whether she wants to date her high school sweetheart, Steve, or her new, hunky (better option, imo) work partner Matt. Season two begins and she has finally decided who she wants to date. DJ has not seen Steve or Matt all summer (even though Matt is her work partner? I’m not sure how that worked out. They’re veterinarians, not teachers), so this is her first time catching up with them. Apparently, Matt and Steve bonded over the summer and became best friends (for plot simplicity, probably). They come over together all buddy-buddy, making jokes about wanting meat. The scene was set up so that it actually seemed like they were a little too close to be just friends. The expectation that Matt and Steve were going to come out and say they were dating each other escalated as they stood next to each other, arms wrapped around each other, and proclaimed “We’ve actually found someone.”

Only for the punch line to be delivered by Stephanie: “Each other? I always had a feeling!”

And it’s played off as a big laugh, because obviously they weren’t dating each other. They each actually had found girlfriends, and their girlfriends were coming over to meet the Fullers/Tanners/Gibblers. This would not be a huge deal if this was how Matt and Steve’s friendship was – very close, a lot of touching, etc. However, this is one of the only times Matt and Steve are portrayed this way, and it is all a set up for a gay joke. I know I was a little disappointed to see that they built that up just to make a joke about it.

But Matt and Steve are not the only examples of this. We have an almost opposite joke in one of the following episodes. DJ and Stephanie decide to crash a wedding. While there, DJ meets Sean, a charming and attractive man around her age. She and Sean get along very well, and DJ is very interested in seeing him again. He even asks her for her phone number! It’s at this point that he informs Stephanie that he’s gay – and he suddenly starts behaving differently. He starts dancing flamboyantly, talking about the cute waiter – things that he hadn’t done in the last 10 minutes (of screen time) we were interacting with him. It’s played off as a big joke. Haha, the guy DJ was into was actually a gay guy all along. How could she not tell?! Let’s also remember that they live in the heart of San Francisco, literally the gayest place in America, and Sean is the only LGBTQ+ person they ever interact with.

But this post wouldn’t be complete without going into more detail about the apparent challenging of gender norms. We see this with both Steve and Matt’s friendship as well as the relationship between the older generation of brothers, Danny, Jesse, and Joey. I’ve already mentioned how Matt and Steve’s friendship is built up just to make a gay joke, but there is also a scene later that I am quite frustrated with. After Steve gets DJ a birthday gift and gives Matt the credit, they have a really tender broment (bro moment). Matt asks “Should we hug?” and Steve and he hug. After a few seconds, Matt asks “Should we stop?” Steve responds, “It’s your hug, your decision.” So instead of stopping, Matt slowly and awkwardly puts his hand on the back of Steve’s head and pats it tenderly. The scene then ends.

What I described above sounds like it’s awesome. Two male best friends who are not afraid to hug each other and be intimate. How great is that?! It would be great, if there wasn’t a laugh track over it.

The problem is that Fuller House is a show intended for children. Although there are adult moments overlaid there to appease the generation who grew up watching Full House, it is primarily a children’s show. That’s why making these jokes is bad. The reason it’s funny that Matt and Steve are hugging like that is because “Boys don’t hug like that!” Brothers hug like that. Kids hug like that. Adult men don’t hug that like. How silly.

The same goes for the thanksgiving episode, where Danny, Jesse, Becky, Joey and their children come. Jesse and Danny end up sharing a bed. The next day they are talking about it, saying one was trying to snuggle the other, but then they reveal that they were actually quite comfortable snuggling each other. This, again, is played off as a joke, because adult men don’t cuddle in bed together.

The problem I’m having with this season of Fuller House is that they are turning intimate, close male friendships into jokes. They are telling the children the show is directed at that these are things that are weird and out of place, and they should think it’s silly. It shows that despite their progressive assertions, there is a bit of internalized homophobia going on here. It’s based in stereotypes and gender policing. It should be better than it is. You can have fun, interesting LGBTQ+ characters, or non-stereotypical men (like Jimmy Gibbler!), without making gay jokes.

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