Born out of the nostalgia/reboot craze that swept Hollywood this decade, Fuller House has proved a durable hit for Netflix. Now in its fourth season, the next-generation Full House surprised many when it recently introduced Casey, a gay friend of Kimmy Gibbler's daughter, and hinted OG character Stephanie Tanner is bisexual. While the show features non-traditional families (single moms, co-parenting, surrogacy) diversity — racial or sexual — has never been Fuller House's strong suit. Add to that, the show's star, Candace Cameron Bure, is a Christian conservative. Fortunately, change has arrived with the addition of Casey, as well as Stephanie's fascinating mention of a former "girlfriend."
Nicholas Fascitelli, one of Fuller House's two gay writers, spoke to us about the show's rainbow additions and Cameron Bure's reaction.
The Advocate: Tell us how the Casey character came about.
Nicholas Fascitelli: We’ve had this story kicking around for a while now. As a (writers') room we were very conscious that our show was set in San Francisco and yet our characters have yet to engage with the gay community in a meaningful way. When original show runner Jeff Franklin was #MeToo’d at the end of season three, the new showrunners, Bryan Behar and Steve Baldikoski, wanted to refocus the Fuller house as one of inclusion and tolerance, and this story was revived mid season. I was actually a few documents deep into another story at the time and requested a (storyline) swap, which I was nervous to ask for. But a gay kid on the show was very important to me.
How did you inform the character as a gay writer on the series?
Well, there was lot of talk about how we would write this character. How gay can this kid be on Fuller House? Love, Simon gay? Pretty in Pink gay? In the end, I wrote from experience and based him on my 17-year-old self — very, very gay.
Tell us a little about Ben J. Pierce, who plays Casey.
I was actually very sick the day the auditions for Casey came in, and I never get sick. But Bryan and Steve were nice enough to have the tapes sent to me, and Ben immediately jumped out. I called in and I said “Ben!” and the room shouted back “yes, BEN!” Everyone loved Ben.
When I first saw him on stage he was wearing overalls with the legs cut off, a plain white shirt, and a red bandanna jauntily tied around his neck, sort of like if they had gondoliers in the midwest. I was like — wow, is that what costumes has him in? And they said, no, that’s his regular clothes. And me, old Hollywood cynic at 34, thought ok, this just got interesting.
I’m jealous of him. He’s who I wished I had the balls to be in high school.
thank u so much @fullerhouse for bringing on the first openly gay character this season and for giving me the opportunity to fill his lil studded shoes. when I was a closeted kid in texas, positive queer representation was all that got me thru it. it’s really kooky to now be able to be a part of that representation. mad love to @fashtagnicholas + everyone @ the show for being so welcoming. season 4 out on @netflix now — I heard episodes 11 & 12 are pretty cool.
What's the reaction from fans to Casey?
Personally I was so pleased with where Ben took Casey. Watching the tapes you sort of gasp when he comes on stage. He’s so completely, fantastically queer.
And it’s such a different flavor than you’d expect from the show, but then you sort of double back on your reaction and go, yeah why shouldn’t he fit on this show?
But when a gay man acts as he’d like, there’s always a full rainbow of reactions. Most people love him; some people want to see a caricature. We have plenty of stories about straight-acting gay people. This one wasn’t for them.
The show's star, Candace Cameron Bure, is known as politically conservative. Did she have any reaction to Casey?
Candace is indeed a conservative. But she will surprise you. I’ll admit I was a little nervous about how she would react at the table read, but she loved the story and was great about everything.
To me, Casey is mostly significant because he is on a show with Candace. Hopefully people who look to her as a leader — and there are many — will think a little differently about this type of gay person now that he’s been in DJ’s home. We know we are not a flashy Hollywood show, but we’re a show watched by a very certain demographic, and it was that demographic I wanted us to speak to.
I think it’s critically important to have a gay writer on these shows, as people realize that homosexuality and family are not mutually exclusive.
But it’s the same for every minority really. No matter how committed to diversity a writing room is, they might feel they don’t have the right to tell a minority story without a representative in the room. It’s important to get a seat at the table, and speak up.
That said, I’ve been on the show since episode one and we’ve all been through a lot, including the death of one of our own last season (producer Marsh McCall). This show means a great deal to me and I feel a little spoiled by the show runners at this point. We’ve become a chosen family.
Jodie Sweetin's Stephanie character shocked many when she mentioned a "girlfriend" in one of the episodes this season. Can you confirm Stephanie is bi or gay?
Stephanie is our wild child and if she says she had a girlfriend, she is likely telling the truth. She's our foil to the traditional domesticity of the show, just like Uncle Jesse was in the original. We're still waiting for a season five pickup so I can't guarantee what's in store, but the fan reaction to her bisexuality has caught our attention, and I have no doubt we'll be talking about it in story camp.
Fuller House's fourth season is now available on Netflix.