SPOILER ALERT: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you’re concerned about spoilers for Season 3 of Fuller House, then you should hold off on reading this column until after you’ve watched it. Also, Soylent Green is made out of people! It’s people!
Back in 2012, I wrote a post called Modern Family Thinks My Family is Creepy, about a particularly disappointing episode of a show I love. In the episode, Claire, played by Julie Bowen, suggests that she could donate an egg for her brother, have it fertilized by his husband and have the embryo carried by a surrogate. Then, they all decide that this would make her “Aunt Mommy,” which they all find “creepy”. It stung because that’s exactly how my husband and I created our family. My sperm, his sister’s egg and a surrogate. Now we have twins, a boy and a girl who are 8 years old. Everybody’s happy, nobody’s “Aunt Mommy,” and none of us have anything but overwhelming gratitude for the way it all worked out.
“Modern Family” remains a wonderful show that’s progressive, honest and funny about, well, modern families, so I don’t hold a grudge. (In 2016, Jesse Tyler Ferguson even read my Modern Love essay, about how my family was created, for the Modern Love Podcast. Wuzzup, JTF?)
Now, I’m happy to report that another popular sitcom has tackled the issue of sisterly surrogacy (it’s been on two sitcoms, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s now officially a thing) in a much more open-minded way. And it’s that cutting-edge, ahead-of-its-time show known as Fuller House.
I know, right?
Well, kudos, Fuller House, for being bolder than most sitcoms would ever be, by taking on a complicated and potentially controversial topic in a straight-forward, family-positive way and getting it wonderfully right.
In the show, Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), learns that she’s unable to carry a baby of her own, but that she does have a few viable eggs left. That leads her to consider surrogacy, which is when her sister D.J. (Candace Cameron), tells her there’s nothing she’d love more than to carry a baby for her and make her sister a mom. (And I should point out that after my amazing sister-in-law Susie provided eggs for my kids, she went on to become a surrogate — but not egg donor — for her other brother and his husband, twice. Yes, she’s really that awesome.)
Unfortunately, for medical and personal reasons, D.J. isn’t a good candidate to be a surrogate, but the fact that she wanted so badly to do it, and that the show treated this as nothing but the beautiful, loving gesture that it is, was so welcome and refreshing.
I’ve been watching Fuller House with my kids since it started. (Say what you will. It’s funny, it has a perfect sense of nostalgia, and it’s one of the few programs I can watch with my kids that we can all enjoy.) So it was a fabulous treat to watch with them as this plotline unfolded. It gave us so much to talk about, and it helped my kids appreciate the way our family was created even more than they already do. Everybody wants to see their lives reflected in popular culture, but I never dreamed my kids would see shows they could relate to like this.
As the story unfolded, (again, spoiler warning to my fellow Fuller Housers!) Steph’s one-time rival Kimmy Gibbler — practically a sister figure herself — stepped up to carry the baby. We’ll have to wait for Season Four to see how it all turns out, but this is a sitcom, so I’m guessing hilarious conflict, wacky shenanigans and ultimately, over-the-top sappiness will ensue. (Hey, I’m not crying. You’re crying!)
The best part is, I’m not even worried about how the show will handle this going forward. Full House/Fuller House has always been a show about non-traditional families. (Hey, we only have two dads in our family — they had three!) While the surrogacy storyline was unfolding, they’ve also had a sweet running subplot about Jesse & Becky adopting, not to mention single mom DJ and whatever’s going on between Kimmy and Fernando.
That’s because (cue the sappy music)… from the very beginning, Full House has shown us that life doesn’t deal everyone the same hand, so you put together the best one you can. Ultimately, it’s not important whether your cards looks like everyone else’s, because it’s not pairs or straights that matter. It’s love that makes a full house.
Hey, I’m not crying! You’re crying!
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If you like this post, please share it. And if you want to read more about non-traditional families going through wacky situations and somehow making it all work, why not check out my MY ROTTEN STEPBROTHER RUINED FAIRY TALES series from Capstone Publishing? They’re now available at your favorite bookstore or online retailer, and you can read all about them on my other site, www.jerrymahoneybooks.com. (I also recommend my book BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE, coming out in March 2018. No sappy messages. Just fart jokes galore!)