Actress Jodie Sweetin is best known for her role as middle child Stephanie Tanner on ABC’s hit sitcom, Full House. Sweetin initially got her start in the entertainment industry by appearing in a 1987 Oscar Mayer commercial where she sang a song advertising their “juicy” hot dogs. However, her role as Pamela in the 80s sitcom, Valerie, is what would eventually lead Sweetin her to mainstream success. From the late 80s to the mid 90s, Sweetin was a staple in the hearts and minds of Full House fans everywhere. Throughout the show’s eight year run, viewers were literally able to watch Sweetin grow, and as she grew, so did the level of maturity in her scenes. Stephanie found herself dealing with typical real life issues which she somehow always seemed to handle with style and grace. Her character, as well as the rest of the show’s cast, helped educate viewers on various topics without being preachy and overbearing. Although Full House aired it’s last new episode almost two decades ago, the lessons the show provided it’s viewers have withstood the test of time, and nobody could deliver a feel-good message like Sweetin’s young character. Here are five life lessons we all learned from Jodie Sweetin (even if she didn’t learn them from herself.)
In the seventh season of Full House, Stephanie Tanner was faced with one of the biggest choices of her young life: to smoke or not to smoke. Feeling pressure from her new friend, Mickey, Stephanie feels like she must do everything she possibly can to shed her good girl image. After being confronted in the bathroom by a group of her peers, Stephanie reluctantly takes a cigarette and prepares to take a puff; however, she ultimately decides not to smoke, which leaves her excluded from the “popular” group. Although her coolness was killed in the process, Stephanie showed viewers that fitting in isn’t worth sacrificing who you are as a person. While her “friends” may not have respected her decision, fans everywhere appreciated Stephanie’s ability to be able to look temptation in the face and say now. Unfortunately for Sweetin, her real life ability to “just say no” has been tested throughout the years, and on several occasions she’s come up short. Sadly, Sweetin did not take her own advice, and suffered from drug addictions during much of her adult life.
In the sixth season of Full House, Stephanie Tanner is forced to face a very real issue while working with a classmate on a group project. During the episode, Stephanie’s classmate, Charles, reveals that his father has physically abused him; however, Stephanie has been sworn to secrecy. Stephanie is able to sympathize with Charles, not only because he has been abused, but because, like Stephanie, he does not have a mother in his life. Eventually, Stephanie confides in uncle Jesse who was then able to get the authorities involved and have Charles moved to a foster home where he could live in a safe environment. Although Full House often consisted of easy-going comedic moments, this episode proved that the show was still able to get across several serious points by using its young stars as a way to make people in the audience feel connected. Although many viewers may not have known someone who was being abused by a parent, the message in this episode went beyond a specific example and helped people understand the importance of speaking out against issues that could potentially put people in harm’s way.
During her run on Full House, Jodie Sweetin had several on-screen love interests. Pictured here with her first “boyfriend” it is clear that young Stephanie Tanner means business. Although many of her relationships throughout the show’s run were short-lived, Stephanie Tanner helped viewers everywhere learn that no matter who it is you’re dating, it is always important to make sure you stay on top of things. unfortunately for Sweetin, her luck with off-screen relationships has left her married and divorced three times, with none of her marriages lasting more than four years.
Perhaps the most important lesson of all, Stephanie Tanner taught us all never to dim our light to make others feel comfortable. In an episode titled “Stephanie Plays the Field”, Stephanie joined a baseball team and realized that she was an outstanding pitcher. Before a big game, Stephanie’s boyfriend, who was on an opposing team, suggested that he would be extremely embarrassed if he were to be struck out by his own girlfriend. Before throwing the ball, Stephanie calls her sister DJ(Candace Cameron) to the mound and, in true older sister fashion, DJ gives Stephanie a pep-talk and poses the question “what’s more important: self-respect or true love.” When Stephanie returns to the mat, she remembers her boyfriend’s words and hesitates; however, she ends up giving the pitch her best shot and strikes her boyfriend out, proving that girls could be just as good as boys.
Okay, so Stephanie Tanner wasn’t the coolest, prettiest, or best dressed kid that ever lived; that’s ultimately why everyone loved her. If there’s one thing that Stephanie Tanner taught us, it’s that it’s perfectly okay to be yourself, whatever that means. Although Stephanie spent many episodes trying to fit in and be liked, in the end, she was never embarrassed to be herself. With a little nudging, she was always able to remember that she was just fine the way she was, and that’s something we all need to be reminded of every once in a while.
(Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Comedy Central)