Defenders of San Francisco, often ex-San Franciscans recently relocated to New York and brimming with a new-found elitist generosity, say that San Francisco is a wonderful place to live, just in your later 30s, once you're married and somehow "settled", which is an endorsement so specific in scope that it essentially functions as a sweeping theological renunciation. San Francisco is great, the implication is, once everything interesting in life is over. It's like saying Rwanda is a fabulous vacation spot, so long as you've reached the point in your existence where you want to contract HIV.
Curiously everybody who's youngish in San Francisco basically concedes the accuracy of this account, even though it doesn't make any sense. Despite all the counter-culture stuff and intellectual, entrepreneurial ethos, there's this deep seated, subconscious feeling among the younger generation that San Francisco's best suited for the domestic ennui of married life. Picnics, baby strollers, opiate smiles and the like.
The cause for this is the television sitcom Full House. Full House ran from September 22, 1987 to May 23, 1995 on ABC. Everything anyone born between 1972 and 1988 thinks deep down about San Francisco can basically be attributed to this show.
One effect of TV’s pretend reality is that exposure to it when you're coming of age, when the cement's still wet, makes it intractably real, emotionally and existentially, no matter what countermanding intellectualisms you later formulate. This is why the prospect of visiting Miami makes us feel dangerous. We secretly think that if we go there, we'll get force-fed cocaine and shot at by dudes in leisure suits. We saw Miami Vice and Scarface, we know. Beneath the gild of palm trees and Dan Marino fans is stripper-grade mayhem.
Full House was not even directly about San Francisco - almost every episode occurred within the titular full house - but you never forgot it was set in San Francisco because the show opened with the now iconic image of the Tanner family cruising in a cherry red convertible across the Golden Gate Bridge, backgrounded by the city’s hilly skyline.
Full House's plot details didn't matter much, but the basic idea was that three harmlessly screwball guys looked after four cutsey, albeit histrionic school girls. John Stamos played Jesse, the show's charming, swashbuckling never-do-well, so footloose that it took him all of 2 and half episodes before he was engaged and married to an attractive Aryan woman, who then showed up pregnant in every single episode that followed.
In retrospect the show's self-conscious promotion of family values and themes seems absurdly forced. Youngish men sat on a sofa, making cheesy banter and hoping a nice wife-to-be would walk in the door while little girls made drama over who would take the dog Comet for a walk. The conceit that Danny Tanner could convince two of his buddies to sign up for this hell is hard to reconcile with what we know about human behavior.
But what we think now isn't relevant because back in 1990 our impressionable, Freudian little minds were conditioned to link San Francisco with the edgeless, wholesome tyranny of Danny Tanner's domestic bliss. The show's producers weren't trying to construct a highly specific collective unconsciousness. They weren't trying to destroy San Francisco's singles scene. But screw those bastards because they did.