Last week, former rock band frontman and current yogurt salesman “Uncle” Jesse Katsopolis fired off an irate tweet about his adopted niece, the actress and fashion designer Michelle Tanner. While Uncle Jesse raised Michelle from infancy alongside her father, Danny, and a host of tenuously- or unrelated children and adults in a free-love style commune run out of a four-story San Francisco residence, his recent remarks could, at best, be deemed “uncharitable.”
What happened to sweet, little Michelle? Why doesn’t she want to come to the family reunion? Why does Uncle Jesse—the man who taught her to say “You got it, dude”—hate her?
Relations among ex-members remained cordial for a time after the Tanner family commune was forcibly disbanded by ABC in 1995. But at some point—between moving to L.A.; between college in New York; between Passport to Paris—Michelle grew up. And, when that happened, the once-strong roots of her family tree were doused in glyphosate, and set aflame.
Does Michelle talk to any of the Tanners anymore? Her father? Her older sisters? Her cousins? Her neighbor Kimmy Gibbler? Doesn’t seem like it.
To examine the rapid deterioration of the Tanners’ lives over the past decade is to sand away the once-vibrant colors of a portrait of a loving American family, until all we are left with is a blank canvas. On it, we can draw our own conclusions—about ties of blood; about a father’s duty to his children; about a child’s duty to herself.
Let’s start at the beginning of the end, right around Michelle’s 18th birthday.
Big Sister Stephanie snorts meth at Michelle’s movie premiere
From the time she was young, Michelle starred in numerous TV and straight-to-DVD film projects—she was the actress of the family. Then, in 2004, an 18-year-old Michelle starred in a real, big-time movie called New York Minute, a psychological thriller about a young woman with dissociative identity disorder whose alternate personality state manifests itself as her rock’n’roll bad girl identical twin. Almost all of the Tanners—Stephanie, D.J., D.J.’s old boyfriend, Uncle Joey, Danny—showed up to support her.
But the premiere was the last time that Michelle would ever pose for photos with the whole clan. While everyone looked happy, at least one family member was relying on hard drugs to get through the event. Michelle’s sister Stephanie later admitted in her memoir that she was “high as a kite” during the premiere, snorting meth in the bathroom.
Uncle Jesse jokes that Danny molested Michelle
Four years later in 2008, Michelle’s father Danny got “roasted” on Comedy Central by Uncle Jesse and other aspiring comedians. In part, the jokes were about Danny exposing himself to a young Michelle. This joke came from Jesse himself:
The whole time Bob and I were doing Full House, he was also hosting America’s Funniest Home Videos. His entire job consisted of saying “Take a look at this,” which is what he used to say to Mary-Kate in her dressing room.
Michelle did not update her family on where her sense of humor lies these days.
Michelle fails to recognize her dad at dinner
The very next year, poor Danny was but a stranger to his artistic daughter. TMZ reported in 2009 that Danny and Michelle were spotted at the same upscale New York City restaurant—The Spotted Pig—but Michelle apparently failed to recognize that her dad was there. Per TMZ: “Bob Saget and Ashley Olsen [left] The Spotted Pig within moments of each other, and though calling it a coincidence is doubtful, Olsen looked completely confused when our photog said Saget was inside.”
Big Sister D.J. is fed up
While Stephanie hasn’t said much about her younger sister Michelle besides the fact that she was “high as a kite” during one of the most important days of Michelle’s professional life, oldest sister D.J. has been a real loudmouth. In 2010, she told Hollywood Life, “I haven’t talked to them in years.” How rude.
In 2012, she elaborated on her non-relationship with Michelle, after Michelle didn’t show up to another Tanner family reunion. “I didn’t know where they were,” D.J. told Yahoo!. “I really had no idea if they were in L.A. or New York or anything. I know they got the invite but they must have had other things going on. I haven’t kept in touch with them in a long time. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen them. But I keep in touch with everyone else. That’s kind of it. Everyone who I’m close to—they were all there. But we were bummed that Mary-Kate and Ashley weren’t there. But I don’t know the reason so they might have had some major stuff going on and it wasn’t a blow off.”
Michelle was working at the time on her many fashion lines, a career she decided to pursue after her acting days were over.
Happy birthday, Uncle Jesse?
By 2013, Michelle had grown distant from nearly all her family members, except her adopted Aunt Becky, who, it seems, convinced her to show up for Uncle Jesse’s 50th birthday party, despite his previous lewd comments. They took a photo together there, which Aunt Becky posted on Instagram.
Michelle was clearly loving it.
Best wishes—NOT—to Uncle Joey
Michelle’s other adopted uncle—a Michigan native named Uncle Joey—married for the second time on a bright summer’s day in Montana last July. Most of the Tanners attended, including D.J., who posted this photo with the groom:
She was starting to look a little different.
Which brings us to the sad, public event of this week—Uncle Jesse calling bullshit on Michelle’s insistence that she was not invited to the family reunion.
Will Michelle ever come back to the Tanners? Or will she wander around New York alone forever, slowly morphing into a person completely unrecognizable as a Tanner? Uncle Jesse later tweeted that after he called her out, he had a “sweet talk” with Michelle.
Had a sweet talk with M.K today!! There way more important things going in the wold today. #FamilyApril 29, 2015
She has not yet RSVP’d to the reunion.