Why Hollywood won’t cast Lori Loughlin anymore
Lori Loughlin is certainly best known for one big role: Aunt Becky. She joined the cheesy but sweet and beloved TGIF sitcom Full House in 1988 as Rebecca Donaldson, a bubbly San Francisco morning show host. Loughlin stayed on the comedy juggernaut until it ended in 1995. After all, it had become evident that her character was the only woman in the world who could tame the mulleted, leather-vest-wearing, womanizing frontman of Jessie and the Rippers — that would be doting uncle Jesse Katsopolis. Loughlin’s portrayal brought a positive female role model into the fold for the show’s kid characters, and she usually played “straight man” to a household full of wacky male antics.
Loughlin worked in Hollywood long before and long after Full House, winning a part on the soap opera The Edge of Night in 1980 while still a teenager and also a slew of guest roles. She’s not as visible as she once was, but she’s certainly still around. However, it still feels like like Lori Loughlin sort of disappeared, and her 2019 indictment in a massive FBI sting could destroy her future in Hollywood.
Her career got a lot ‘Fuller’
In early 2016, Netflix helped kick off the current TV reboot craze (which has also seen the return of Will & Grace, Twin Peaks, Charmed, and Roswell, among other ’90s hits) with a faithful revival of Full House. While the original Full House (1987-1995) found grieving single dad Danny Tanner raising his three daughters with the help of his best friend and brother-in-law, Fuller House took place in the same San Francisco house and centered on eldest Tanner sibling D.J. (Candace Cameron-Bure) tragically and eerily reliving her father’s situation. She’s all grown up, and a widowed mother of three, and raising her kids with original show characters Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) and wacky neighbor Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber).
Most of the show’s original characters and cast returned, including Danny Tanner (Bob Saget), Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier), and Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos). And since you can’t have an Uncle Jesse without an Aunt Becky, actress Lori Loughlin reprised her role as one-half of one of TV’s most beloved and enduring couples. That keeps her plenty busy, but unless you’re one of the super fans tuning in for the reboot, this actress may be working far from your radar.
She’s forever Aunt Becky
While Lori Loughlin is only a small part of Fuller House, work is work, and if that work is on a popular show on a ubiquitous streaming platform, that feels like a good thing, right? However, being part of the Full House universe could be a double-edged sword. Actors and actresses who star on shows strongly associated with a specific era, or which viewers strongly and fondly connect with their childhoods, often have a hard time moving on to other projects. Think of the “Child Star Curse” — so many kid actors who made a name for themselves on family-friendly sitcoms in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s struggled to be taken seriously as adults. Emmanuel Lewis was Webster, and Gary Coleman was Arnold Jackson from Diff’rent Strokes. Casting directors (and audiences) had difficulty seeing them as anyone but their characters. Lori Loughlin might very well have the same problem. She’s still Aunt Becky to millions … and only Aunt Becky.
She headed north
It’s been a long time since Lori Loughlin starred on a prominent, top 30 hit show that aired on a “Big Three” TV network — Full House went off the air in 1995. She has continued to work, and in the 2010s, she landed a big role in a long-running series — it’s just a little less noticeable because it airs on a couple of basic cable channels. Like fellow ’90s TV refugee Jason Priestley (who starred on a string of hit shows in Canada), Loughlin successfully pursued her fortunes north of the border, too. Since 2014, she’s been one of the leads on When Calls the Heart, a light drama about life in a tiny, coal-mining town in Western Canada, circa 1910. (If it sounds like Little House on the Prairie, it’s because it’s very similar to that show. In fact, Michael Landon, Jr., the son of Little House on the Prairie star Michael Landon, has produced, written, and directed for Canadian series.
If you’re guessing that Loughlin plays a de facto matriarch named Abigail who wears some beautiful if uncomfortable-looking period garb, you are correct. When Calls the Heart airs on Super Channel in Canada and on the squeaky-clean Hallmark Channel in the United States.
She’s otherwise occupied, raising a YouTube star
Much to the chagrin of hardcore Full House fans, Lori Loughlin did not marry John Stamos. After divorcing first husband Michael R. Burns (an entertainment executive), she eloped over Thanksgiving 1997 with fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli (yes, he’s that Mossimo). First came love, then came marriage, then came two daughters in rapid succession: Isabella Rose, born in 1998, and Olivia Jade, born in 1999. Loughlin has been busy raising kids, as well as helping with a professional push. Isabella has dabbled in acting, appearing in a couple of Hallmark Christmas movies with her mother, while Olivia Jade became a makeup and fashion YouTuber with about two million subscribers.
Shortly after graduating from her private California high school in 2018, Olivia Jade upset some folks when she posted a video in which she sounded more than a little spoiled when discussing her college plans. “I do want the experience of like game days, partying,” she said. “I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.” When commenters called on her to check her privilege, she posted an apology video. “I said something super ignorant and stupid, basically,” the YouTuber said. Nevertheless, Olivia Jade Giannulli enrolled at the prestigious University of Southern California … but that’s not nearly the end of that story.
She got nabbed in a massive FBI sting? Have mercy!
An ill-conceived plan to help her kids got Lori Loughlin arrested. According to NBC News, 50 people were charged as a result of “Operation Varsity Blues,” an FBI investigation that discovered a massive scam involving wealthy people who paid huge sums to a man named William Singer to get their kids into top schools such as Yale, Stanford, and USC. Among Singer’s techniques: paying people to take the college entrance exams in lieu of the wealthy kids, bribing test proctors, and bribing college coaches so that the privileged applicants could claim to be athletic recruits, thus increasing their chance of acceptance into their school of choice.
A number of rich folks are facing jail time for their involvement, among them CEOs, barons of industry, and Hollywood celebrities. Among the most famous names in the indictment list: Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, and Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli. Government officials allege that Aunt Becky and the Target clothes guy spent $500,000 on Singer’s services to get their daughters into USC. Loughlin and Giannulli specifically and allegedly conspired with Singer to falsely make their daughters appear to be recruits for the USC crew team, even though they’d never competitively rowed a boat.
According to TMZ, FBI agents attempted to arrest Loughlin at her California home on March 12, 2019, but she was filming in Vancouver. They nabbed Giannulli instead, and Loughlin turned herself in the following day.
She’s holding the world’s longest garage sale
Lori Loughlin’s heyday: 1990s television. The world of entertainment has changed a lot since then, but the forms of that era have merely taken up residence elsewhere. Pleasingly cheesy, kid-friendly sitcoms such as Loughlin’s Full House now exist on Netflix (as is the case with Fuller House), and the Disney Channel, and made-for-TV movies, once a relatively cheap and easy way the big broadcast networks could fill a couple nights of programming each week, retreated to basic cable. Loughlin followed her ’90s brethren, and to much success.
Since 2013, Loughlin has starred in a whopping 15 entries in the Garage Sale Mysteries series of TV movies. The actress plays Fenn Shannon, proprietor of an antique shop called Rags to Riches who also just keeps stumbling across unsolved crimes (which she then solves). Loughlin also serves as an executive producer on the GSM canon, which has at least three more movies in its future. Like its predecessors, those will air on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel.
Everywhere you look, there’s a flop
It’s not like mainstream Hollywood and network TV turned their collective backs on the cast of Full House once that show went off the air. On the contrary, the goodwill and familiarity garnered by that show has propelled cast members’ TV careers over the years, particularly John Stamos, who found work on ER, Glee, and Grandfathered, and Bob Saget, who earned a nice paycheck for nine years narrating How I Met Your Mother. TV’s Aunt Becky also earned Lori Loughlin a shot at broadcast television glory — several, in fact. They just didn’t work out.
Immediately after Full House ended in 1995, Loughlin starred in Hudson Street, an ABC sitcom about a New Jersey detective (Tony Danza) who falls in love with a plucky crime reporter (Loughlin). Despite airing as a lead-in for monster hit Home Improvement, Hudson Street lasted just one season. In 2004, Loughlin starred as a woman who takes in her orphaned niece and nephews (one of whom was played by Zac Efron) on the WB’s Summerland. Loughlin co-created the series, but alas, it endured for just two short seasons. Shortly thereafter, Loughlin starred with Jonathan Silverman and David Arquette on In Case of Emergency, a single-camera comedy about a group of friends who try not to be losers anymore. That one spawned just 13 episodes.
There was ‘not much to do’ on 90210
Lori Loughlin’s last major network TV role to date was as Debbie Wilson on 90210 – the CW’s late 2000s revival of the ’90s classic. The original series hinged on the Walshes, a transplanted Minnesota family adjusting to life in the very different culture of sunny Beverly Hills. Over time, the show focused on its teen characters and their romantic foibles, pushing parents Cindy and Jim Walsh to the sidelines and then off the show completely. The new 90210 followed a similar trajectory. It began in 2008 as a show about the Wilsons, who move from Kansas to Beverly Hills. History repeated itself as the parents, played by Rob Estes and Loughlin, similarly disappeared from 90210.
Estes left the show in 2010. “There just wasn’t enough for Rob to do because the show is more about the kids,” an insider told Radar Online. Loughlin followed suit a year later. “There’s just not much for me to do,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “It is a very big cast and it is hard to service all of us. The focus of the show is the kids.” We get it, but leaving a show in the middle of its run may not be the best career move.