Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Family Matters (TV series)
Family Matters was a sitcom based on a middle class black family living in Chicago that ran from 1989 to 1998 on ABC and later on CBS. The show, which was a spinoff of Perfect Strangers, originally focused on the character of Harriet Winslow and her family: husband Carl Winslow , a police officer; rebel son Eddie Winslow ; smart daughter Laura Winslow ; and youngest child Judy Winslow . They had opened their home to Harriet's sister Rachel Crawford and her son Richie Crawford , as well as Carl's streetwise mother Estelle Winslow .
Steve Urkel, played by Jaleel White, was the most famous character on the show, a supposedly intelligent, awkward nerd who often inappropriately interjected himself into Winslow family affairs. Introduced in 1989, he was intended as a sporadic character, but was received so enthusiastically that he became a regular. His trademark line, "Did I do that?" became a catchphrase imitated across America. While the series originally focused on the Winslow family, later episodes often centered on Urkel's unrequited, long-standing crush for Laura, and his constantly backfiring inventions wreaking havoc on the Winslows (with comic foil Carl the most frequent victim). Oddly, despite the nerdy, caricature-esque nature of the character, White himself became a symbol of "cool" among generation X teenagers, and even a sex symbol according to some. Others found the character one-dimensional and annoying.
As time went by the characters and stories changed. Richie grew up, Steve made increasingly incredible and more improbable inventions, including a transformation chamber, which he often used to change into cool, "sexy" Stefan Urquelle to get to Laura. Also notable, he invented a cloning machine, a long story of how Stefan Urquelle got to be permanently real. And Eddie and Laura hung out with their friends, including Maxine and Eddie's girlfriend, Greta. Steve Urkel's cousin from Biloxi, Mississippi, Myrtle Urkel , often tried to attract and flirt with Eddie.
As the focus of the show began to center more and more around Urkel (and his doppelgangers), other, original, characters were shunted to the periphery of the show. By 1993 the actresses who portrayed members of the Winslow household, including Judy, Estelle, and Rachel, had left the show. Telma Hopkins as Rachel made guest appearances until 1997, but no explanation was ever given for Carl and Harriet's youngest child mysteriously disappearing; Judy was never seen in later episodes, although she was mentioned once in a later episode; see Chuck Cunningham syndrome. Steve settled for Myra Monkhouse while he waited for devotion from Laura. Eventually, Urkel's dream came true; Laura came to appreciate his company and, during the 1997-1998 season, began to fall in love with him.
During its final season the show moved to CBS, and in December 1997 actress Jo Marie Payton left, with Judyann Elder taking over her role as Harriet. Family Matters ranks as one of the longest running African-American sitcoms along with The Jeffersons and The Cosby Show.
- Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
- Jo Marie Payton as Harriet Winslow (1989-1997)
- Darius McCrary as Edward "Eddie" Winslow
- Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
- Jaimee Foxworth as Judy Winslow (1989-1993)
- Rosetta LeNoire as Estelle "Grandma" Winslow (1989-1997)
- Telma Hopkins as Rachel Crawford (1989-1993, 1994-1997)
- Bryton McClure as Richie Crawford (1990-1998)
- Jaleel White as Steve Urkel (1990-1998)
- Michelle Thomas as Myra Monkhouse (1992-1998)
- Orlando Brown as 3J (1996-1998)
- Shawn Harrison as Waldo Geraldo Faldo (1992-1996)
- Judyann Elder as Harriet Winslow (1997-1998)
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