Why Kimmy Gibbler Should Be Your Role Model

Fuller HouseIt has been described as “an inescapable nightmare” and “a new low in the current culture’s inability to leave behind the blankies, binkies and wubbies of one’s youth.” Writer Rich Juzwiak described the viewing experience as “what tripping on ayahuasca must be like.”

Critics do not like Fuller House.

Though, as of today, the new Fuller House has earned a paltry 38% on Rotten Tomatoes and seems to offer little more than aggressive nostalgia and thinly veiled jabs at the Olsen twins, the somewhat forced existence of this Netflix sequel has given the world an unexpected and well-needed gift: another glimpse into the life of Kimmy Gibbler, one of TV’s most underrated heroines.

Kimmy Gibbler is the socially awkward friend of D.J. and next-door neighbor of the Tanner family. Her role in the show is to permeate the often sickeningly wholesome Tanner family environment with hijinks and unsolicited opinions. Despite D.J.’s unclear motives for interacting with Kimmy—”whether it’s because she can live on the edge a little by hanging around her, or because she gets to practice her leadership skills and guide her, is uncertain”—many episodes of Full House include at least one scene with this eccentric teenager.

Taken as a whole, these scenes tell the courageous story of a unique, independent female who, which grace and wisdom, rejects the antagonistic behavior of those around her.

Make no mistake: the Tanner family hates Kimmy Gibbler. Or, at the very least, they have no respect for her as a person. Brush away the lukewarm greetings and tepid small talk—most of which are accompanied by shrugs and rolling eyes—and mostly insults remain. Some jabs are dismissive, like when Uncle Jesse admits that he actively avoids talking to Kimmy. But other insults are shockingly combative for a 90s sitcom about family values, like when Uncle Jesse shreds Kimmy’s list of song suggestions for no apparent reason. The writers of Full House even temporarily abandoned their usual commitment to family-friendly puns and overused catchphrases when they allowed young Stephanie Tanner to call Kimmy a whore. (Though, to be fair, some argue that Stephanie’s comment refers to Kimmy’s alleged horrific qualities—not her supposed whorish qualities. Regardless, Stephanie’s joke hurts, especially Kimmy Gibbler 2considering that D.J.—Kimmy’s “best friend”—responds to the burn with what seems to be a wry smile.) In one episode, Danny and Jesse attempt to dissuade Kimmy from marrying the wrong person, which is an arguably considerate endeavor, but their rushed speech to Kimmy includes a series of random insults, as if they can only be kind to Kimmy after exhausting their supply of cheap jabs. And no member of the Tanner family seems concerned after they launch Kimmy into a tree while trying to fix a stubborn teeter-totter.

Kimmy does not allow the Tanner family’s cruelty to damage her self-worth. Despite the negativity, Kimmy remains confident and opinionated. She rarely misses an opportunity to flaunt her quirky individuality. Yes, Kimmy’s brand of self-expression includes stinky feet and shouted responses, but these eccentricities complement her larger-than-life persona. When Stephanie notes in one episode that a traditionally dressed Kimmy (wearing a black dress and pearls) seems “so lifelike,” she implies that everyday Kimmy (usually sporting vibrant, mismatched colors) does not adopt a typical lifestyle, which is true. Through the eyes of the Tanner family, Kimmy’s existence is an enigma, a puzzling juxtaposition of candid vulnerability and unapologetic panache. Kimmy should not be able to exist within the Tanner ecosystem, yet Kimmy flourishes in their presence, as if she is fueled by the doubt and insecurities of others.

Kimmy GibblerFew television characters have matched Kimmy Gibbler’s impressive and courageous f**k-it mentality. Even the socially inept, bespectacled Steve Urkel from Family Matters had enough self-doubt to alter his own DNA and transform into Stefan Urquelle, the suave womanizer with 20/20 vision. Kimmy never compromises her originality. She fights standardization with some sass, a smile, and a shrug.

Just as Antonio Salieri is the champion of mediocrity, Kimmy is the champion of originality. Any individual who has ever felt unwanted or unappreciated can draw inspiration from Kimmy’s reaction to the Tanner’s pretentiousness.

Kimmy Gibbler is one of the few characters on TV to say loudly, in effect, “Screw you. I am who am.” This makes Kimmy a hero. If I ever have a daughter, I hope that she has Kimmy’s courage and self-reliance. I hope she grows up to be like Kimmy Gibbler.

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Ben Boruff is a co-founder of Big B and Mo’ Money, and he reviews indie comics for ComicBastards.com. Some of his favorite directors are Whit Stillman, Seijun Suzuki, Noah Baumbach, Kathryn Bigelow, Stanley Kubrick, Antione Fuqua, Don Hertzfeldt, Adam McKay, and Tom Hooper.  Follow him on Twitter: @BenMagicAwesome.

68 thoughts on “Why Kimmy Gibbler Should Be Your Role Model

  1. You put into words why I admire Kimmy. I relate to her in a lot of ways- but I am only beginning to have the courage to say “screw you, I am who I am.” It isn’t always easy to be constantly insulted and be the scapegoat of a family dynamic. But then again, Kimmy is a fictional character, so of course she isn’t going to be affected by the negativity- she is there for all of us to laugh at.

    • I think for having ability to be “brave and honest” we just need a few things. Someone said to me I’m lucky I can do it. Nothing to do with luck. Just work on yourself. First of all – I’ve tried to make my feelings loud without pointing at someone, respected my feelings as much as others, but put myself first and… just stop complain about family and strangers. Everything in your hands

  2. I’ve been rooting for Kimmy ever since my kids discovered Full House on Nick at bedtime… I’ve never even been a huge fan of the character of Kimmy in particular, but you’ve said exactly what I’ve always thought about her role. My boys don’t seem destined to grow up to be a Kimmy. Which is fine, I’d be satisfied with a Joey. Good God, do I have to write my own Full House post??

  3. I never thought of it this way, you make some really good points. Now I feel badly for her!!

    And, as someone that only watched the pilot of the new season I can see where the Rotten Tomatoes rating came from.

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  6. I love this so much! I have been a fan of the show since it began airing and Kimmy Gibbler was my favorite character! It is really sad how they portrayed her character in the new show, Fuller House. But, it is nice to see that she helps DJ by staying with her, even when nobody has treated her with respect.

  7. I love the way you explain this. It’s really making me rethink my whole opinion of Kimmy! While I haven’t watched the reboot, I remember my childhood opinions of Kimmy on Full House. As someone who was VERY aware of social norms (probably because I was in the thick of middle school when I jumped on the Full House bandwagon), I was so embarrassed for Kimmy. How could she not take the obvious hints that she was unwelcome and that her behavior was totally inappropriate?!?! Unfortunately, I think that’s what a lot of kids will also see when watching. Or, at the very least they will come to find her as irritating as the other show’s characters do. What a shame that a show that prides itself on explicitly teaching life lessons doesn’t acknowledge Kimmy’s individuality and confidence. Thanks for pointing out this unsung hero!

  8. I always identified with Kimmy as a pre-teen. And as a teen. And as a grad student. And, let’s face it, as an adult.

    Zero conventional fashion sense (then to the eye-rolls of my trendy friends and now to the horror of my pre-teen fashionista daughter). Ability to perform multiple socially inept verbal acrobatics in a single sentence. Big hair. (Ok, finally managed to escape that one.)

    This is the first time I considered her great qualities. While reading your piece, it dawned on me: I share some of those, as well (which is how I survived the last few years). Thanks for making my day. 😉
    Proud to be Kimmyish!

  9. I like her, she looks very capable there, like she would break your knee caps if you cut in line in front of her at Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream Parlor or stole her girlfriend.

  10. Well spoken point of view. That character deserves indeed appreciation especially when comparing all the hassle she met daily of the Tanner family for no obvious reason yet she always managed to stay true to herself and never got intimidated by repeated disrespectful attitudes of what she called “True Friends”. Too bad society never made an idol of her at that time, and kept drooling over the apparent perfection of the Olsens instead😐

  11. I remember feeling that back in the day the Tanners needed to cut Kimmy a little slack, but it seemed is was the way of 80s sitcoms to have an annoying antagonist. I did watch the first episode of Fuller House and found myself grinning and cringing. The best entrance bay far, was that of Kimmy Gibbler. I was a a blend of Bohemian and nerdy and the butt of many jokes by family and friends. I definitely identified with her and I secretly loved to annoy my would-be abusers 😂

  12. This is a great post. I’m a huge fan of Full House, and couldn’t wait to binge watch Fuller House. I’ve always liked the characters, but Kimmy always seemed the most relatable to me. I didn’t understand why until recently. My personality is nothing like her’s, but she has flaws. I always felt like the other characters were too perfect. Even when the other characters displayed flaws, they seemed to perfect their attitudes by the end of the episode. I will probably always love Full House and whatever is associated with it, but I’m not going to compare myself to fictional characters that are only perfect because that’s how they’re written. We can definitely all learn something from Kimmy.

  13. Kimmy Gibbler was my favorite character. I grew up watching this show and she truly inspired me to keep being me despite what people thought or how people treated me. The world needs more Kimmy!!!

  14. DJ loves Kimmy precisely because Kimmy has all those brave and free attributes DJ desires. Every parent whose child has an annoying friend should look deeper and find the delightful characteristic that attracts.

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  16. Whoa, if I saw that episode of Full House with Stephanie’s whore joke, it definitely went over my head back then! I guess Kimmie was supposed to be Full House’s Urkel, though she is infinitely less annoying. I will always admire her complete lack of self awareness, as well as her endurance in the face of endless lame Tanner insults.

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  20. Going up I hated this girl with a passion. She was the one annoying person I wish would just fade away. As an adult though I love her. She is the only reason I wouldn’t watch the new season. She never changed. She stayed her same quirky self while pretty much everyone seems took a 360 with their life goals. DJ a single mom and Stephenie a underachiever who loves parties, clubbing, and drinking. Yes they all have respectable jobs but ones there younger selves would have never been caught doing.
    I saw Stephenie as being the one with kids( and possibly a stay at home mom) and DJ putting all her focus on a job and possibly CEO of sorts.

  21. One of the best things I have read lately. Really glad you took the time to analyze this. I normally catch things like this but hadn’t really thought of it this way before.

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  24. No one on this show is a role model. best thing to do it STOP watching. Kids will do best without the t.v.

  25. Love the post. and whole heatedly agree. Kimmy is unique and she embraces that and I love her character for it. I think that in the TV show, she does come off as sort of dimwitted, but I don’t think she’s actually a dimwit. I think that she is funny and she has fun with life, and she lets things roll of her shoulders with ease. some people perceive her to be idiotic because of it, but I think, that on the contrary, she is a lot smarter than most people, especially when it comes to knowing and being yourself. ❤

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