With the release of new cast photos from the upcoming revival-esque sitcom Fuller House, everyone on the Internet has gone completely nuts. Ever since Boy Meets World got reincarnated as Girl Meets World, 1990s sitcom fever has been all the rage. Now, even though the constant rumors of a reunion movie that persisted throughout the 00s has come to fruition, with all the cast on board with the hopes of inspiring a new generation of wholesomeness. And the gang’s all here, except for one noticeable and completely predictable absence: Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen as Michelle, the youngest daughter.
I grew up watching Full House every day after school. Since I am about the same age as the Olsens, I don’t remember the early episodes from their original airings, but I watched the later ones when they were originally aired and VHS tapes/reruns of the earlier ones. Like many other 90s kids, I’ve seen every episode, and, like many other kids, was devastated when it was cancelled. Even though the adult actors (Bob Saget, John Stamos, and Dave Coulier) really drove the show, and some theorize that it was actually all about Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), the middle child, it was, of course, Michelle, played by the Olsens in a dual role, who earned the big bucks both onscreen and off, getting paid on an increasingly higher scale due to their cuteness and wild popularity. After Full House they went spinning off into their own franchise of dolls, merchandise, and straight-to-VHS movies, becoming teenage millionaires, arguably having more success than any other cast members. Even through the darker periods in their career, like Mary-Kate’s hospitalization and their sometimes questionable looks, they’ve consistently been at the top of the fashion world despite having left the “industry.”
And now, everyone’s up in arms because – shockingly – two women who have clearly moved on don’t feel compelled to return to a past career.
This amateur pop culture theorist is not surprised, but has opinions of his own as to why the Olsen twins are doing it right.
Let’s look at the given circumstances here.
1. They became Michelle before they were potty-trained. Unlike the other cast members, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had much less of a choice in their initial casting as Michelle. From what I’ve heard, they were basically among the only sets of twins who wouldn’t constantly cry on camera and didn’t mind crawling around a set in front of strangers. In fact, another rumor has it that their parents were worried they wouldn’t have a normal childhood and almost took them off the show after the first or second seasons. They grew up calling their co-stars by their character names so they wouldn’t slip up during a taping. None of these experiences are comparable to even what Jodie Sweetin, the next oldest kid, endured. All of the other cast members, (with the exception of the boys who played Jesse and Becky’s twins) auditioned for their roles and knew what they wanted out of the experience. The Olsens stayed on for the whole show, but maybe had things played out differently, they would’ve pursued a different path in life. Speaking of which…
2. They’re not acting anymore. Other than an appearance on Ellen a year or two ago, they haven’t been on screen in the better part of a decade, when they’re so recognizable that they could have probably returned to acting whenever they wanted to. They chose careers in fashion design, a choice that suits them better than what they did ages ago as kids. They probably could have even balanced careers in both areas, but actively chose not to.
But still, fans are angry that they decided not to return. Here’s what they’re
saying whining about, and here’s why I think that they are wrong.
1. “They’re so ungrateful to their co-stars and fans, they think they’re so much better than them, it’s like a giant middle finger to America.” That last part might be an exaggeration, but I have never heard anything about them putting down their past or their co-stars, or demeaning Full House in general. Even though they have had their strange moments, they’ve never gone the route of Amanda Bynes and bashed people on the Internet, or gotten arrested/served jail time like Lindsay Lohan. Growing up without those things is a different topic, but even after reading all the recent press, I still don’t hear them saying anything about their reason for not returning as being above their past cast members.
2. “They’re filthy rich and don’t need the money.” Partly true, they do have a lot of money, but that’s kind of a non sequitur; I don’t think that Candice Cameron Bure is hard up for cash or that Dave Coulier is on food stamps. Even though the Olsens are more visible, it’s how they present themselves and how they’ve consistently stayed in the public eye for so long that their status is legendary.
The main point of it all is that they’re just not interested, and the fact that acting is not exactly like riding a horse; you can’t just get up and go without preparing for it first. Even though some of their co-stars took breaks and did other things, they’ve been on TV at least some time in the past five years, and the Olsens haven’t. I mean, look at the alternative; if they did go for it, and ended up doing a terrible job, not being “the same Michelle” or seeming “miserable,” their stock would go down. And you know that every blog, magazine, and newspaper would just have to comment. Bad publicity = bad business, and their image and fashion empire might take a blow; a small one, but a blow nonetheless. The way that the producers seem to be handling it – by saying that Michelle is off in New York being a fashion designer – is totally legit and way more respectful than either acting like Michelle never existed or killing the character in an off-screen accident. And hey, there could still be hope – if the show gains traction, it would be a pleasant surprise to have, say, one of the next-gen Tanners become Skype buddies or FaceTime with “Aunt Michelle” for a quick cameo. The producers could easily manipulate the viewers into thinking that Michelle is totally out of the picture, and then just pop her in there; Full House hasn’t always been realistic, but being a show about family, it’s not completely unrealistic to have a distant family member. (As I typed that last sentence, I realized that in my family, I’m that distant family member, having been in Baltimore for all of one month in the last fifteen months, collectively).
What I am sure of, however, is that if they do come back, they should be welcomed. Compare it to the Spice Girls and their reunion at the Olympics in 2012. Everyone was buzzing about Ginger Spice not returning due to her early exit from the group, and Posh not returning because she’s Victoria Beckham, but they were all there on top of those cars, performing together. Even if naysayers say that Posh Spice didn’t want to be there or was offered an outrageous some of money to “do it for [the team, the group, England, the world].” Had she not wanted to be there, she simply would have stayed home. But she was there, because she wanted to do it, and had she not been there, people would have understood (or wouldn’t), but she obviously felt like she a) wanted to do it and b) could do it, so that probably made her decision easier. When you don’t have the desire or the ability to do something (Kristy McNichol and Julie Andrews as prime examples, respectively), you don’t do it, not necessarily for others, but for yourself. And that’s fine.
Say what you want, but I’m excited for February 26th. “Everywhere you look….”
Oh, and I forgot to mention, thank you to my 1200th follower, Jen of Bierbaum Bookworm! Go visit her!
And for the first time in 2016, shout-outs to all six continents for visiting: North America (Canada and USA), South America (Chile and Venezuela), Europe (Germany, France, Greece, and UK), Asia (India and Brunei), Africa (Botswana and Mauritius) and Oceania (Australia!)