Posted by: billysuperstar | September 9, 2011

Season 4, Episode 8, “Shape Up”

Pre-Credits Gag:  After excessive nagging, Jesse buys Michelle a box of Fiber Bears cereal.  He gives her the box and she pours out the whole thing, removes the toy, and then tells him to make her some eggs.  See, they always gotta go to far.  Wanting the cereal just for the toy is kinda obnoxious, but we probably all remember doing the same thing when we were kids.  But can they leave it at that?  No, no they can’t.

DJ ominously snacks in her room while working on a collage for Kimmie Gibbler’s birthday.  Stephanie enters the room with her new recorder and really sucks ass at playing it.  Kimmie Gibbler shows up and pulls an invitation to her birthday party out of her amazing fanny pack and gives it to DJ.  DJ is dismayed to learn that it’s a pool party, so she’ll have to wear a bathing suit in front of everybody.  DJ says that Kimmie Gibbler doesn’t have to worry about it because she has the perfect body (out of admiration for Kimmie Gibbler, I will let you to come up with your own smarmy comment about that) and says that she wont be comfortable wearing a bathing suit in front of everyone until she has a body like the women in the pornographic magazines that she reads.

With 2 weeks to get all sexyfied before the party, DJ puts herself on a strict dieting regime, beginning by putting pictures of pin-up girls all over the refrigerator to discourage her from eating.  Rebecca Donaldson comes in and, instead of recognizing the early stages of a body-image complex, offers DJ helpful advice on what foods to eat when trying to lose weight.  Really?  If those pictures of sexy ladies on the refrigerator aren’t a cry for help then I don’t know what is.

Ironically, after all that dieting advice, Jesse comes in with a bunch of cake samples so he and Rebecca Donaldson can pick one out for their wedding.  The family all gather around to try it out, including Michelle, who’s pretty fucking eager to get down on those cake samples.  As the family tries to convince DJ to try a piece, Michelle loses control of herself and crawls across the table to shovel cake into her mouth.  You might think that the family would discourage this kind of behavior, as this kid is clearly totally out of control and has just wasted a bunch of really expensive cake samples, but they all just stand around laughing like, “Oh, Michelle!” while the studio audience goes fucking nuts over it.  What’s so funny about an obnoxious little girl?  Seriously?

For the sake of my own mental and emotional preservation, I’ve been in denial about the fact that this show really does get increasingly shitty as it goes on.  Remember how much those early episodes sucked?  They’re like fucking fine art compared to this shit.  As I work my way through this series, I keep discovering these defining moments where the gratingly obnoxious qualities graduate to a higher level.  This is clearly one of those moments, and as I watch that ugly orangutan child being celebrated for acting like a complete asshole, I can only wonder how I will ever make it through the last half of this series.

As Stephanie continues to suck ass at playing her recorder, DJ expresses frustration towards her lack of weight loss.  Jesse comes in and tells her that if she wants to lose weight she might want to focus on exercise rather than dieting, and recommends that she work out at Michelle’s gym.  Wait, what?  Since when does Michelle go to the gym?  Why is that a thing that he can just mention that’s not supposed to be perplexing to the audience?  “Michelle’s gym”?  What the fuck?  The fact that Michelle apparently goes to the gym often enough that it’s a familiar reference at the full house might actually shed some light on why DJ is having all these fucked up issues about her body.  Speaking of which, I also think that it’s pretty amazing that neither Jesse or Rebecca Donaldson made any effort to counsel DJ about her negative self-image, and have only offered advice on weight loss techniques.  Usually Rebecca Donaldson is the one who approaches these kinds of situations with a sensible, woman’s perspective, but as she comes closer and closer to her time as a resident of the full house, all of her wisdom and sensible thinking seems to be gradually fading away.  I wonder if maybe it’s the full house itself that makes these people such fuckheads?  You know, like maybe it’s like the hotel in The Shining?

Michelle comes in the room and tells Stephanie that she sucks dick at playing the recorder.  Jesse tries to help her hit the proper notes and ends up having the same problem, which leads him to discover that there’s something stuck in the recorder.  He blows into it and expels a piece of gum that hits Michelle right in the forehead, which is actually pretty rad.  Thus concludes the Stephanie’s recorder subplot.

Stephanie discovers that DJ has been giving her lunches to Kimmie Gibbler and notes that she’s been skipping out on her other meals as well.  She makes DJ promise to eat the sandwich that Danny made for her and then spies on her while she feeds it to the dog.  DJ tells Comet, “You’re lucky…dogs don’t have to wear bathing suits” and then sad music plays while the camera closes in on DJ and then cuts between her and Stephanie’s distraught expressions.  Have you ever heard of a worse prompt for a sad moment than, “dogs don’t have to wear bathing suits”?   How come this show’s only ever actually funny when it’s failing to be emotionally affective?

After the commercial break, Stephanie calls bullshit on DJ’s anorexic behavior.  DJ reasons that she’ll cut it out after the bathing suit party and forces Stephanie to pinkie swear that she’ll keep a lid on it until then.

The Tanner family head to the gym, and hilarity ensues!  As DJ tears ass on a stationary bike, the dads all watch Michelle do her baby exercises.  She goes through a really easy workout routine as the dads dote on her and give her a detrimental level of attention.

After the baby workout, the dads join Stephanie and Rebecca Donaldson’s aerobics class so they can ogle a bunch of chicks in their early-90’s, loud colored spandex outfits.  The instructor catches them and makes them exercise in the front of the room and then there’s a long take of them sucking at aerobics that’s pretty darn poorly put together.  It looks to me like the script said, “and then the dads suck at aerobics” and they just filmed the first, improvised take without any direction and decided that it was good enough.

Stephanie summons DJ to come and laugh at the dads’ inept aerobics training but then DJ becomes lightheaded on the way over.  Stephanie calls the dads for help and they decide that they’ve all had enough exercise for the day and go home to the full house.

DJ gets all pissy when the family continues to express concern about her and then tries to skip out on dinner.  Stephanie violates the sacred oath of the pinkie swear and outs DJ’s burgeoning eating disorder.  The family warn her about the effects of eating disorders but she says that she doesn’t give a shit because all that matters is looking hot in a bathing suit.  She storms up to her room and Danny follows her.

DJ explains to Danny that she doesn’t like the way that she looks because none of the hoes in her magazines have big fat moon faces like she does.  Good lord, I can’t help but sympathize for Candace Cameron for having to deliver these lines.  Seriously, how much would it suck to be a teenage girl and be forced to berate your own appearance on national television?  I wouldn’t be surprised if filming this episode gave her an eating disorder in real life.  Anyway, Danny tells DJ that people come in all shapes and sizes, and that he himself struggled with body image issues growing up because he was so tall and skinny.  Oh yeah, Danny, being a tall thin white man is a real hill to climb!  Poor Danny!  So anyway, Danny tells DJ that it’s what’s inside that counts and that her friends shouldn’t judge her for looking terrible in a bathing suit and I guess that if more dads gave that same brief, ill-conceived speech then anorexia wouldn’t be such a problem.

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Responses

  1. Hell yeah! The “DJ’s eating disorder” episode”! For whatever reason, this is the absolute first episode I think of whenever anyone mentions Full House, and the first episode I think of when discussing “very special episodes”.

    Like the “don’t hang out with people who drink beer” episode, I love how this show tries to juxtapose a serious issue with its shallow, sappy style. The horrific failure is very amusing.

    What’s so funny about an obnoxious little girl? Seriously?

    Man, even as a kid, that pissed me off. Like, get that little monster off the table. She’s destroying that cake! That’s not cute, it’s obnoxious!

    Usually Rebecca Donaldson is the one who approaches these kinds of situations with a sensible, woman’s perspective, but as she comes closer and closer to her time as a resident of the full house, all of her wisdom and sensible thinking seems to be gradually fading away.

    That’ll be an interesting trend to follow. I wonder if, by the time she spawns those hideous floppy-haired monstrosities, we’ll have lost all affection for her.

    Thus concludes the Stephanie’s recorder subplot.

    What an odd and totally random subplot…

    and I guess that if more dads gave that same brief, ill-conceived speech then anorexia wouldn’t be such a problem.

    Seriously, how obnoxious is that? It’s like when Stephanie was having anxiety issues after the Earthquake, and everything was solved after three minutes with a therapist. On the hand, you can appreciate a show with a (embarassingly) large audience like this bringing attention to things like eating disorders; on the other hand, you almost wonder if, by having to wrap everything up in a tidy little bow in 22 minutes, the show doesn’t do more harm than good by suggesting that all it takes to overcome an eating disorder is some trite platitudes from dad.

  2. …that ugly orangutan child being celebrated for acting like a complete asshole…

    Ahahahaha! It’s poetry, is what it is.

  3. Damn…the anorexia episode comes up and I’m off vacationing in Hawaii….woe is me.

    First of all, who refers to a gym clearly designed for a adults as their 6-year-old daughter’s gym? Is she paying for the membership?

    I also feel that Rebecca Donaldson is too fine looking to ever truly be annoying on the show.

    Anyway, this is the episode I think of when Full House is ever mentioned. The overly dramtic, stupid seriousness of it all sticks with me. Combine that with the insulting nature of fixing an eating disorder simply with a dad’s speech and, I’ll say one thing, it’s memorable, just for all the wrong reasons.

    To top it off, Candice Cameron isn’t all the fat. So how many teenage girls are watching this thinking, “If SHE thinks she’s too fat, what does that make me? A beached whale!?”

    Also: “Good lord, I can’t help but sympathize for Candace Cameron for having to deliver these lines. Seriously, how much would it suck to be a teenage girl and be forced to berate your own appearance on national television?”

    Totally makes me think of when I was kid watching Growing Pains. Mike would tease Carol about how fat she was (even though she really wasn’t). Even a young Dr. Bitz wondered if it was hard for the actress (Tracey Gold) to handle those scenes. I figured she must be self confident enough (and the rest of the cast/crew reassuring enough that it’s all just for comedy and not true) that she could take those scenes in stride.

    I guess my concerns were valid since Tracey Gold did end up with a eating disorder.

  4. It’s so shocking that they casually deal with eating disorders as a potentially comic device in storyline writing (cake-samples / dog-bikini line / fun at the gym…)
    I’m waiting for the episode where DJ is blamed for not believing in God, since Candace is now a religion freak ! haha !

  5. Tracy Gold, who starred on Growing Pains with Candace Cameron’s real-life brother, DID develop an eating disorder because her character was constantly belittled for being fat. She had suffered from anorexia and bulimia earlier in her life but had entered recovery before starting the show… and all the fat jokes triggered a relapse. That’s why she was missing from the majority of the last season. I can’t recall if this FH plot coincided with her leaving GP, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • That’s EXACTLY what’s happened. They discovered Tracey Gold’s eating disorder and thus…..and I’m not making this up, though I guess there may be a little more to the story…. in order to prevent Candace from doing the same, THEY DID THIS EPISODE. Yep. “I sure hope she doesn’t think she’s fat. Let’s do an episode where she’s portrayed as chunky compared to the other actress her age and have her call herself fat. And then, rather than saying she looks great, just simply have the character go on a more sensible diet. That ought to fix any potential issues.”

  6. Hey, fun fact! Candace Cameron did have some eating disorders whilst filming the show! Everyone called her chubby and shit.

    Not so fun of a fact I guess.

    • The girl on Growing Pains had an eating disorder too. What’s with women, Kirk Cameron, and eating disorders? Did he throw subconscious jabs into their psyche about how they were chubby?

  7. You would think that filthy cunt Michelle might have taken a little something from this episode, but nope.

    • I think Michelle took away some eating disorders of their own. Maybe callously using it as a plot on Full House was when their anorexia seed was planted.

  8. Even as a child, the gum smacking Michelle in the head was the only part of the show that ever made me laugh. Sadly it wasn’t until I was 10 or 11, near the end of Full House’s run, that I realized that after years of this show, Family Matters, and other family “comedies,” I’d only ever laughed once and I should probably find something else to watch. Then I watched nothing but Nick at Nite and TV Land (back when both showed rad TV shows) until good shows came back to TV. Still, it was too late to prevent the vast majority of Full House from being permanently etched into my subconscious.

  9. Dude don’t get all scared because everyone is looking at you now from the Huffpost. The Angry Video Game Nerd got all soft once he became popular. Stay visceral and obscene. It’s why we like you.

  10. I distinctly remember this episode giving me tips on how to anorexia way better. Thanks, Full House!

  11. For some reason the thing I always took away from this episode was Kimmy Gibbler remarking about being constantly fed ham sandwiches. I laughed at that, and I have no idea why.

    Though admittedly if your kid was on a diet, maybe feeding them starches and fats wouldn’t be the best healthy food. And what kind of pills was Rebecca on that she didn’t notice the giant neon sign that said “Help me! Help me!” I don’t remember if DJ clearly takes credit for putting the bikini clad women on the fridge, and if not would like to imagine Becky thought Jersey put them on there.

    I also think not getting DJ addicted to caffeine pills was a missed opportunity in 90s sitcom drug abuse history. Because those bad boys were EVERYWHERE.

    • Doesnt she eventually? Or was that another bad 90s sitcom? Maybe it was Saved by the Bell.

  12. the dads join Stephanie and Rebecca Donaldson’s aerobics class so they can ogle a bunch of chicks in their early-90’s…

    I almost did a double-take before I read the complete sentence!

  13. I’m surprised no one has commented on the fact that while his daughter is struggling with body image issues, Danny is ogling skinny women (and commenting on their hotness) right in front of DJ! How fathers respond and treat women has a major impact on how daughters develop their own self-image. I always thought how all three of the “men” (I use the term lightly) talked about/treated the women on the show in front of the children was awful.

  14. I don’t think that’s a cereal Michelle is eating, those are Teddy Grahams. I hope those didn’t go to waste, you never want to waste chocolate Teddy Grahams.

  15. I like how Aunt Becky (oops, sorry, it’s stilll just “Becky”) appears totally breastless in the 3rd screen shot.

  16. Most ridiculous trying-to-be-serious emotional moments from 80s-90s TV countdown:

    2. DJ Tanner faints after getting off the stair stepper.
    1. Jessie Spano is so excited and so scared!

  17. I _read_ Fiber Bears, but _thought_ Water Bears
    http://sciencefriday.com/videos/watch/10198

    (please let someone do a reshoot of this with Michelle pouring out (and then being devoured by) a box full of Water Bears)


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