Bob Saget with his three daughters


My Dad Was Never There For Me, But Bob Saget As Danny Tanner Was

Jan 12, 2022

Bob Saget and his daughters Lara, Aubrey and Jennie at the 2005 Golden Dads Awards ceremony in Los Angeles.

I grew up in the '90s, when latchkey parenting was the norm and the phrase "screen time" as we know it hadn’t entered our lexicon. As an only child to a hardworking single mom, I filled the deafening silence with an impressive lineup of TV sitcoms.

"I often lived in a dream world and wished that I could be a part of the Tanner family."

My favourite shows featured big happy families — but I was especially enamoured with the fathers. I know I’m not the only one either, some fatherless kids look to media representations to fill the void, or help them shape what it means to be a good dad.

Earlier this week, the world was stunned with the announcement that Bob Saget had suddenly and unexpectedly died while on his comedy tour. Social media flooded with fans of Saget who mourned his untimely passing, and reminisced about America’s beloved TV dad. I noticed how many other millennials talked about how Saget had been a father figure to them when they needed it.

Craig Stephens didn't have a dad growing up, so when he became a father, he found there were three qualities he wanted to bring to his parenting.

Full House's Danny Tanner was my dream dad

While there are plenty of TV dads who can be seen as incompetant and bumbling patriarchs that constantly defer to the strong matriarch of the family, Saget’s Danny Tanner didn’t have a wife to fix his blunders. Instead, the single dad had to pick up the pieces and care for his three young daughters, with some support from his brother-in-law (John Stamos) and college best friend (Dave Coulier). 

"I loved seeing a single father that stepped up and took his role as a dad seriously."

As a child in a single parent home, I loved seeing a single father that stepped up and took his role as a dad seriously. Technically, my dad was a single father too — he just wasn’t there for me. I often lived in a dream world and wished that I could be a part of the Tanner family; or maybe one day my mom would meet a real-life Danny Tanner and they’d get married.

Those formative years and TV shows like Full House informed my view on family. I believed that a "true family" functioned like a 22-minute sitcom — every day was filled with tender moments, sage wisdom and some kind of family-friendly hilarity.

After the pandemic started, the late Bob Saget created a podcast inviting anyone to call in. In 2020, he told Tom Power about how it allowed him to connect with fans on a deeper level.

The lasting impact of a TV dad

In 1987, when Bob Saget started Full House, he was only 31 years old. Now, I'm just a year older than he was, and somehow I’ve managed to have three daughters of my own (fun fact: Bob Saget himself also had three daughters). My life looks completely different from Full House, and my husband is nothing like Danny Tanner, but I still have a tender spot for the show, the fictional characters and the real actors who played them. My kids love watching old episodes of Full House, and I love revisiting the family that I once wished I was a part of.

"Danny was the soothing balm and loving presence that so many of us craved."

With Bob Saget’s passing, I’m reminded of the little girl who loved Danny, and longed to be wrapped up in a fatherly embrace like D.J., Stephanie and Michelle were in every episode. Friends, family and co-stars have all said that Saget was a kind, genuine and generous person. For kids who were looking for a father figure, like I was, Danny was the soothing balm and loving presence that so many of us craved.

His loss feels personal.

I know I’ll be revisiting old episodes of Full House, because who better to soothe a bruised heart but Danny Tanner himself?

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Read more from Brianna here.

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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