The Gospel According to "Fuller House": Rebuilding The Set

Back when televisions were pieces of furniture instead of wall hangings, I spent every Friday evening watching Full House

The Tanner family was the most functional dysfunctional family on television. A widowed dad raised his three daughters with the help of his brother-in-law and best friend. The friend lived in the basement and played with puppets. The brother-in-law lived in a room covered in pink bunnies and posters of Elvis. The neat-freak dad loved the smells of Lysol and Clorox and named the dog, Comet. They never locked the door to their San Francisco home. 

Yet every Friday night, at the end of 25 minutes (plus commercials), they solved all problems and averted all disasters. While soft music played, everyone patted each other on the back and apologized and hugged for their mistakes. The untraditional family seemed to have it all together. No matter how crazy the world seemed, the Tanners took us to a fantasy land where a crazy family always found calm.

When I heard that Full House was back, 29 years later as Netflix series, Fuller House, I confess that I was excited.  As silly as the show could be, it was a vivid memory of childhood that I wanted to revisit.

One of the coolest things about Full House was the "house" itself. Yet when the production designer, Jerry Dunn, prepared to build the set for Fuller House, he discovered the drawings of the original "house" were missing. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dunn says that he watched over 100 hours of the original show, pausing constantly to look more closely at the set. With only a few upgrades to the set, he rebuilt the Tanner home, to the delight of many. On the first day of shooting, when the cast members arrived, Dunn observed two of the actors as they got right back into character:

They look so comfortable in their house that they’ve gone right back in to their character again. That’s my aim as a designer; I want nobody to really notice the set. I want them to feel like it’s just part of their life. That’s what I think a good production designer does.
— Jerry Dunn, Production Designer of Fuller House

I was struck by Dunn's humility. After hours of watching corny jokes and studio laughter, of drawing numerous stairs and windows, he didn't mind if his work went "unnoticed." So many of us long for recognition and have a great desire to be noticed. We want attention for the good work that we've done. We long for praise and affirmation.

Perhaps the sign of our greatest work is when no one notices the work itself. 

The Old Testament is full of stories about building and rebuilding. The measurements of the Ark of the Covenant. The types of wood and metal for the temple. The numbers of artisans and craftsmen. Detailed work. Beautiful work. Holy work. How many names of those builders and workers do we know? Without them we would lack the basis for how we worship, where we worship, whom we worship.

Every day many of us go to work and feel like we're watching endless episodes of an old sitcom on repeat. We wonder if anyone notices or cares what we're doing. We feel like we're going through the motions. Who knows what impact a seemingly small job can have on so many people? God takes the seemingly simple, seemingly foolish ways of the world and uses them to confound the wise. Perhaps you're part of building a "fuller house" for God's kingdom: through your early morning prayers for your community, through your faithfulness to the non-profit committee on which you serve, through your unloading and loading of chairs in the gymnasium that serves as a church on Sunday morning.

The attitude of a servant comes from a heart rooted in humility. Humility comes from using our gifts to help others come alive. Through the rebuilding of a set, Jerry Dunn has made many feel at home--both the actors and the viewers. We may not all work as production designers, but we are all builders in God's kingdom. How might you build for someone else's joy today?

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian