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Friday, May 27, 2011

TGIF: Stephanie Tanner From Full House

I can't even begin to tell you how much grief I suffered in elementary school from all the kids in my class when they discovered that I still watched “Full House”.

I mean, sure, watching the show through adult eyes, I can sort of see where they were coming from. The show was sugary sweet. Incredibly sugary sweet. So sugary sweet that if Full House was candy, you'd be in the dentist chair for six months straight.

Of course, that's through adult eyes.

Back in the days when Full House was still airing original episodes, I watched the show through my kid goggles. No, seriously, quite literally, I was a kid when it aired.

The show ran from September 22, 1987 to May 23, 1995. Or, if you want to see it in the Matthew timeline, from age six to age fourteen. All kid years.

So, why was it that kids were making fun of me for watching Full House? Maybe it was because they liked Home Improvement better? Maybe they were running out of things to make fun of me for? Maybe they despised the Olsen twins with the fire of a million suns? Who can say, really?

You want to know what I think of those kids who bothered me over watching a television show that millions of people all over the world watched as well? Lame. Absolutely lame.

I mean, let us be realistic. I don't have children myself. However, if I did...I know I'd rather have them watch Full House than an episode of South Park any day.


Full House, while somewhat of an unbelievable concept itself (seriously, how the hell did all those people fit into that tiny San Francisco house?) started off as a feel-good family comedy, and eight seasons later when it ended remained a feel-good family comedy. It showed a non-traditional family doing traditional family things. It didn't have any salty language, nudity, violence, or anything of the sort. And, honestly, I don't really mind the fact that it was so sugary sweet at times. Like I said, there could be worse out there for kids to watch.

Confession Time: Even at the age of 30, if I am flipping through the channels on television and come across a Full House rerun, depending on the episode, I will likely pause it on that channel and watch the show. End of confession.

So, clearly you probably are aware that this blog entry will be about one of the characters in this show. If you read the title, you know which character it is.

So, why did I choose to make Stephanie Tanner the subject of today's blog? There's a number of reasons. When I was watching the show, she was the cast member closest to me in age (I think I'm about a year older than Jodie Sweetin, the actress who played Stephanie is), so naturally, I felt I could relate to her problems more than I could with Michelle or D.J. Tanner. She also had some personality traits that I could relate with myself. I'm sure you want examples, so examples I will give you.

  1. Stephanie could be stubborn.

Does anyone remember the show's very first Christmas episode? It was titled “Our Very First Christmas Show”. How original.

In the episode, the Tanner family were supposed to fly out to a family reunion of some sorts away from home, and a snowstorm grounded the plane. The family was forced to spend Christmas Eve in an airport. Everyone was miserable about the experience. They were made even more miserable about it when their luggage containing all their Christmas presents was lost. Young Stephanie refused to give up hope that Santa Claus would come find them at the airport. The picture above shows her in a telephone booth trying to call the operator for Santa Claus' phone number. I won't spoil the ending for this episode, but if you like Christmas miracles, this show is a nice one to watch. If anything, you'll like the scene where one of the Olsen Twins shoots Bob Saget down a conveyor belt outside.

I admit that I could be quite stubborn too. Granted, I was never trapped in an airport on Christmas Eve. But, I could be quite stubborn too. I you say...quite the argumentative child. Especially when it came to family members. I can't begin to tell you how many times I got into arguments with my parents and older siblings with me insisting that I was right and they were wrong. Most times, I did end up being totally wrong, but the rare time in which I did get my point out and they acknowledged it, it made me feel good. Shameful? Perhaps. But, when you're the youngest child, you take your victories where you can get them.

  1. Stephanie had a special bear.

Everyone who has seen at least one episode of Full House knows that Stephanie's most prized possession was her beloved trenchcoat and fedora wearing teddy bear named “Mr. Bear”.

How original.

Mr. Bear meant the world to Stephanie. Made sense too, considering that it was a gift from her now deceased mother. Mr. Bear appeared in quite a few episodes...I think he appeared in more episodes than Aunt Becky, D.J.'s boyfriend, and Kimmy Gibbler! But, he meant a lot to Stephanie.

Now, let me show you MY Mr. Bear...

Okay, so maybe I haven't had this bear all that long (the 2011 on his paw is a dead giveaway), but my niece actually bought this bear for me while I was recovering from having my gall bladder out. She said that it was a healing bear, and that it made miracles happen. Considering that my surgery was a lot more serious than it should have really been, having this guy around made me feel infinitely better. Why the surgery was so rough...I'll tell you all another time.

  1. When Stephanie screwed up...she screwed up...and often was too hard on herself.

I kind of touched into this on yesterday's Hotel Dusk entry, but dropping out of university was probably my biggest screw-up to date. And, boy, was I hard on myself. Whenever people told me that I was intelligent, I would often laugh off the remark, and say that if I were so intelligent, why couldn't I have found a way to get my university degree? Believe me, I was that hard on myself.

Fortunately, I managed to find a great support group in the form of family and friends who have made me realize that even though I was a university dropout that it wouldn't have made any difference to them. I was still the same guy. I didn't need a degree to validate that.

Just like Stephanie's family forgave her when she had her own great big humongous screw-up. (apologies for the really bad quality)

Though, if I had re-enacted that same scene at my house when I was eight years old, I probably might not be alive to reminisce about Full House today.

It's here that we come to the most important comparison between Stephanie Tanner and yours truly.

  1. It took a long time for Stephanie to find true friendship.

I'm not kidding here. In all the episodes I remember watching in Full House, Stephanie never really had what one would consider to be a lasting friendship. D.J. Tanner had Kimmy Gibbler. Michelle had a core group of friends that she always hung out with. Stephanie...not so much.

It seemed like any time Stephanie made a new friend, they always disappeared. One of her first friends was a boy named Harry. Gone. She made friends with a guy nicknamed Duckface. Gone. She tried to hang out with like, these totally, like, self-obsessed teenagers, who, like never wore denim after lunch because they were like, so totally last period. They never lasted either, though Stephanie was better off not hanging around self-absorbed twits like them.

Stephanie then entered junior high, and befriended a girl named Mickey. You can see their first encounter right here, as well as an...uh-oh moment.

You know exactly what I mean, eh. Peer pressure. It happens all the time in schools all over the country. How you have to do things or wear things or buy things that “all the other cool kids” are doing in hopes that you'll be seen as cool too. In this example, smoking was the subject, but anything could have applied. Like, it could have been seen as uncool to not drink alcohol. It could have been seen as uncool to wear Underoos in sixth grade. It could have been seen as uncool to watch “Full House”.

You see how ridiculously stupid that sounds?

I say be proud of what you watch. Be proud of what you wear. Be proud of NOT drinking or smoking in school! Be proud to be you!

Stephanie made the decision that she didn't want to succumb to peer pressure to keep friendships. She chose not to smoke, and while the three girls weren't into that at all, Mickey seemed to understand, and she and Stephanie developed a great friendship over the deal.

Weirder still, Stephanie also proved herself to be a good friend to the ringleader of the crew, Gia. Though, it didn't exactly start off that way.

I can't really say that I am an advocate of revenge. Personally, I'm more of a believer in karmic retribution. But Stephanie's plan to humiliate Gia by plastering her bad report card in the middle of a school hallway didn't work out as planned. Especially when Gia ended up at the brink of tears when all was said and done. Granted, Stephanie did have reason to be upset with Gia after her little prank, but Stephanie didn't intend to hurt anyone's feelings.

I know how Stephanie must have felt. I don't like hurting people's feelings either. I think my generally diplomatic nature in conflict resolution can attest to this. I try looking at both sides, and I try to see the pros and cons of every action. Stephanie's impulsive nature initially got her into trouble here, but she quickly rectified the situation, and Stephanie and Gia started to bond.

The journey that Stephanie had to take to get there was a long and arduous one. For me, it happened to work out the same way. It took me a really long time to find a group of friends that I could count on to always be there. Most of them happen to be my co-workers. They have supported me through some of my worst moments, including my surgery, which I talked about up above.

I think that's one of the biggest lessons that Stephanie Tanner taught me about myself. If you be yourself and try not to bow down to the pressure of others, people will take notice.  If they don't...well...that's rude!

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