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Family Matters

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Title: Family Matters  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: TGIF (ABC), Going Places (U.S. TV series), Jo Marie Payton, Perfect Strangers (TV series), Getting By
Collection: 1980S American Comedy Television Series, 1980S American Television Series, 1989 American Television Series Debuts, 1990S American Comedy Television Series, 1998 American Television Series Endings, American Broadcasting Company Network Shows, American Television Sitcoms, Black Sitcoms, Cbs Network Shows, English-Language Television Programming, Fictional Portrayals of the Chicago Police Department, Media Franchises, Television Series About Families, Television Series by Warner Bros. Television, Television Shows Set in Chicago, Illinois, Television Spin-Offs, Tgif (Abc)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Family Matters

Family Matters
Official logo, as seen on covers of the show's DVD releases
Genre Family sitcom, Teen sitcom, Black sitcom
Created by William Bickley
Michael Warren
Developed by Robert L. Boyett
Thomas L. Miller
Theme music composer Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay
& Scott Roeme
(episodes 1–5: George David Weiss & George Douglas)
Opening theme "As Days Go By",
performed by Jesse Frederick
(episodes 1–5: "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong)
Ending theme Instrumental theme,
composed by Jesse Frederick & Bennett Salvay (seasons 1–4)
Gary Boren (seasons 5–9)
Composer(s) Jesse Frederick &
Bennett Salvay (both; seasons 1–2)
Gary Boren (seasons 3–5 and 8-9)
Steven Chesne (seasons 4–7 and 9)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 215 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
William Bickley
Michael Warren (seasons 2–7)
David W. Duclon (seasons 3–8)
Location(s) Lorimar Studios
Culver City, California (1989–1993)
Warner Bros. Studios
Burbank, California (1993–1998)
Camera setup Videotape; Multi-camera
Running time Approx. 22–25 minutes
Production company(s) Miller-Boyett Productions
Bickley-Warren Productions (seasons 3–9)
Lorimar Television (seasons 1–4)
Warner Bros. Television (seasons 5–9)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original channel ABC (1989–1997)
CBS (1997–1998)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original release September 22, 1989 (1989-09-22) – July 17, 1998 (1998-07-17)
Preceded by Perfect Strangers (1986–93)

Family Matters is an American sitcom which originated on ABC network from September 22, 1989 to May 9, 1997 and then aired on CBS network from September 19, 1997, to July 17, 1998. A spin-off of Perfect Strangers, the series revolves around the Winslow family, a middle-class African American family living in Chicago, Illinois.[1] Midway through the first season, the show introduced the Winslows' nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White), who quickly became its breakout character and eventually the show's main character.[2]

Having run for nine seasons, Family Matters is the second longest-running U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African American cast behind The Jeffersons, which aired for 11 seasons. In terms of the number of episodes, Family Matters is ranked third after Tyler Perry's House of Payne (254) and The Jeffersons (253), with 215.


  • History 1
    • Network change 1.1
  • Cast 2
    • Main cast 2.1
  • Episodes 3
  • Production notes 4
    • Theme song and opening credits 4.1
  • Crossovers with other TGIF shows 5
  • Syndication 6
  • DVD releases 7
  • Awards and nominations 8
  • Appearances in other media 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The series originally focused on the character of police officer Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette Winslow, son Eddie Winslow, elder daughter Laura Winslow and younger daughter Judy Winslow (who appeared until the character was written out in season four).[3] In the pilot episode, "The Mama Who Came to Dinner", the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother, Estelle Winslow (Rosetta LeNoire), usually known as "Mother Winslow." Prior to the start of the series, Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford and her infant son, Richie, had moved into the Winslow household after the death of Rachel's husband.

The Winslows' nerdy teenage next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White), was introduced midway through the first season in the episode "Laura's First Date" and quickly became the focus of the show.[4] The popular sitcom was a mainstay of ABC's TGIF lineup from 1989 until 1997, before it became part of the CBS Block Party lineup from 1997 until 1998. Family Matters was produced by Bickley-Warren Productions and Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television (1989–1993) and later Warner Bros. Television (1993–1998). As the show progressed, episodes began to center more and more on Steve Urkel and other original characters also played by White, including Steve's suave alter-ego Stefan Urquelle and his female cousin Myrtle Urkel.

Network change

In early 1997, CBS picked up Family Matters and Step by Step in a $40 million deal to acquire the rights to the programs from ABC.[5] ABC then promised to pay Miller-Boyett Productions $1.5 million per episode for a ninth and tenth season of Family Matters. However, tensions had risen between Miller-Boyett Productions and ABC's corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company (which had bought the network in 1995 as part of its merger with ABC's then-parent Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.). Miller-Boyett thought that it would not be a big player on ABC after the network's recent purchase by Disney. In turn, Miller-Boyett Productions agreed to a $40 million offer from CBS for a 22-episode season for both Family Matters and Step By Step. CBS scheduled Family Matters, along with Step By Step, as a part of its new Friday lineup branded as the "CBS Block Party" and scheduled the family-oriented block against ABC's TGIF lineup, where the two series originated. CBS cancelled Family Matters and Step By Step after one season, along with the rest of the "Block Party" lineup. After the 9th season the cast was told to get ready to film the tenth and final season of the show, so scripts and plot synopses were written for the show, but due to poor ratings CBS started to demolish sets of the show to make room for newer shows.


Main cast

Clockwise from bottom-left: Jaleel White as Steve, Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura, Michelle Thomas as Myra, Darius McCrary as Eddie, Jo Marie Payton as Harriette and Reginald VelJohnson as Carl
Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Reginald VelJohnson Carl Otis Winslow Main
Jo Marie Payton[note 1] Harriette Baines- Winslow Main
Darius McCrary Edward "Eddie" Winslow Main
Kellie Shanygne Williams Laura Lee Winslow Main
Jaimee Foxworth Judith "Judy" Winslow[note 2] Main
Rosetta LeNoire Estelle "Mother" Winslow Main Recurring
Joseph Wright
Julius Wright
Richard "Richie" Crawford Main
Telma Hopkins Rachel Baines- Crawford Main Recurring Guest
Jaleel White Steven "Steve" Urkel
Stefan Urquelle
Myrtle Urkel
Recurring Main
Bryton McClure Richard "Richie" Crawford Main Recurring
Shawn Harrison Waldo Geraldo Faldo Recurring Main
Michelle Thomas Myra Monkhouse Recurring Main
Orlando Brown Jerry Jamal "3J" Jameson Recurring Main
Judyann Elder[note 1] Harriette Winslow Main
  1. ^ a b Jo Marie Payton made her last appearance in "Deck the Malls" (season 9, episode 11). Judyann Elder assumed the role of Harriette Winslow for the remainder of the season, beginning with "Crazy for You (Part 1)" (season 9, episode 14).
  2. ^ The character was first portrayed by Valerie Jones in the pilot episode ("The Mama Who Came to Dinner"). Jaimee Foxworth assumed the role thereafter.


Season Episodes First air date Last air date Nielsen ranking
Season 1 22 September 22, 1989 April 30, 1990 #32
Season 2 25 September 21, 1990 April 26, 1991 #15[6]
Season 3 25 September 20, 1991 May 8, 1992 #27[6]
Season 4 24 September 18, 1992 May 14, 1993 #30
Season 5 24 September 24, 1993 May 20, 1994 #30[6]
Season 6 25 September 23, 1994 May 19, 1995 #34
Season 7 24 September 22, 1995 May 17, 1996 #42
Season 8 24 September 20, 1996 May 9, 1997 #50
Season 9 22 September 19, 1997 July 17, 1998 #99

Production notes

Family Matters was created by William Bickley and Michael Warren (who also wrote for, and were producers of parent series Perfect Strangers) and developed by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett (who also served as producers on Perfect Strangers), all four also served as executive producers of the series. The series was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions, in association with Lorimar Television who co-produced the show until 1993, when Warner Bros. Television absorbed Lorimar (a sister company under the co-ownership of Time Warner). Starting with season three, the series was also produced by Bickley-Warren Productions.

The series was filmed in front of a live studio audience; the Lorimar-produced episodes were shot at Lorimar Studios (later Sony Pictures Studios) in Culver City, California, while the Warner Bros.-produced episodes were filmed at Warner Bros. Studios in nearby Burbank.

Theme song and opening credits

The show's original theme was Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World"; it was scrapped after the fifth episode of season one ("Straight A's"), though it was heard only in the pilot episode in syndicated reruns. The second theme, "As Days Go By," written by Jesse Frederick, Bennett Salvay and Scott Roeme, and performed by Frederick, was the theme for the majority of the series until 1995; it was last used in the season seven episode "Fa La La La Laagghh", the only episode during the final three seasons to feature it (this was heard in season one episodes in ABC Family and syndicated airings). A longer version of "As Days Go By" was used during the first three seasons, though in syndicated reruns the short version is heard (in ABC Family airings, the long theme was used for all of the episodes during the first three seasons).

The Family Matters house in Chicago (depicted as the Winslow family home) in 2010. The structure to the left did not exist at the time the show's exterior shots were filmed.

The opening sequence begins with a shot of the Chicago Lakefront (the John Hancock Center can be seen in the center), then a shot of the Winslow home. In the opening titles, the main characters were shown around the Winslow home (though in some shots featured some characters in other places as well, such as Rachel at the Rachel's Place restaurant during the season two through four version, or Waldo at the Vanderbilt High School gym during the season four through six version). The opening credits during the first three seasons feature a scene showing the Winslow family riding their bicycles across the Irv Kupcinet Bridge over the Chicago River; an allusion to parent series Perfect Strangers, which featured a scene of Balki and Larry (played by Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker) riding a tour boat underneath the same bridge, shot from the same angle, in its own opening credits from seasons three until eight of that series. Clips of episodes were shown after the bike scene and before the house shot in the season one through three versions.

The house shown at the beginning and the end of the opening credits (as well as in establishing shots for scenes set at the Winslow house) is located at 1516 West Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, Illinois (). The closing shot at the end of the credits with the Winslow family at the piano (which also was shown during the closing credits when there was no tag scene), in which the shot pans outside the house and the camera zooms out showing neighborhoods and the northside Chicago skyline (Wrigleyville) in the background, was originally used in the pilot episode "The Mama Who Came to Dinner" (though the scene featuring the Winslows before the pan was redone twice in seasons two and five).

The role of Richie as a baby was credited as being played by "Joseph [and] Julius Wright" in season 1, with Julius' name made to appear as Joseph's middle name in the titles-– the duo was credited this way because the show's producers did not want audiences to know that Richie was then played by twins-– the role of Richie as a baby was played by two children because California state law regulates the number of work hours for a young child, therefore it is common for the role of one baby in a television or film production to be played by twins (another Miller-Boyett series, Full House, credited Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen in the same manner in its opening sequences until that show's seventh season). In season five, after Hopkins left the show, White was given special billing in response to the popularity he earned as Steve Urkel. Appearing last in the credits, he was credited as "and Jaleel White as Steve Urkel," starting in the sixth season (Hopkins was credited similarly as "and Telma Hopkins as Rachel" prior to season five). In season seven, the opening theme song and credit sequence were dropped entirely-– though it was brought back for one episode: "Fa La La La Laagghh," the eleventh episode of that same season-– for all other episodes during seasons seven through nine, the names of the show's main cast members, as well as co-executive producers and executive producers were shown during each episode's teaser scene.

Crossovers with other TGIF shows

Family Matters is set in the same "TV universe" as several other TV shows related to ABC's TGIF or CBS' Block Party:

  • Perfect Strangers – Before Family Matters, Harriette Winslow was originally the elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper office in the third and fourth seasons of Perfect Strangers. Family Matters was a spin-off series given to this character in 1989. In the second episode of Family Matters, Harriette was fired as elevator operator at the Chronicle, but was soon re-hired as "Chief of Security," which explained her absence from dealings with the Perfect Strangers cast.
  • Full House – In the season 4 Full House episode "Stephanie Gets Framed," Steve Urkel helps Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) deal with her anxiety after she has to wear eyeglasses.
  • Boy Meets World – In the episode "Beauty and the Beast" Urkel sent a chain letter to his friend Cory Matthews (Ben Savage), who lived in Philadelphia. The two never actually appeared together on either show.
  • Step by Step – In the original ABC broadcast, the ending gag of Family Matters' third season episode "Brains Over Brawn" is crossed over with the opening of the second episode of Step By Step, "The Dance." Urkel's jet-propelled flight pack causes him to fly through the Winslows' roof as one show ends and crash-land in Port Washington, Wisconsin, where the Lambert-Foster family is enjoying a barbecue as the other show opens. Urkel goes on to help his science-fair pen pal, Mark Foster (Christopher Castile), and lifts Al Lambert's (Christine Lakin) spirits after her potential date dumps her just before a school dance. He reprises his "Do the Urkel" dance in the scene where Al gives the guy who dumped her his comeuppance. Urkel also makes a brief cameo in the 1997 episode "A Star Is Born," snapping a clapperboard on the set of the movie that Al was cast in over her two sisters.
  • Meego – In this short-lived series, Steve makes a non-speaking cameo appearance in the second episode "Love and Money" where he angrily retrieves a television set stolen by Meego. He then appears in the third episode "The Truth About Cats and Dogs" helping out at a model car derby competition.


In September 1993, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution began distributing Family Matters for broadcast in off-network syndication; most television stations stopped carrying the show by around 2002, though some stations in larger markets such as WTOG in Tampa, Florida continued to air Family Matters until as recently as 2005. In 1995, reruns of the series began airing on TBS Superstation, where it ran until 2003.

From 1997 to 2002, reruns of the series aired on WGN America. In 2003, ABC Family picked up the series and aired it for five years until March 2008. From 2004 to 2006, UPN aired the show for 2 years. BET aired reruns briefly in December 2009, and began airing the series on a regular basis on March 1, 2013. MTV2 also began airing reruns on September 7, 2013. The show aired on Nick at Nite from June 29, 2008 to December 31, 2012. ABC Family and Nick at Nite airings cut the tag scenes at the end of all episodes, despite the fact that many episodes during the series have tag scenes during the closing credits. In 2015, the series now airs on a Viacom owned cable network Centric. In Canada, the series also aired on CTV and CBC for reruns.

DVD releases

Warner Home Video has released the first four seasons of Family Matters on DVD in Region 1.[7][8][9][10] On February 4, 2014, Warner Home Video released season 4 on DVD, but consumers complained when it was found that the season 4 set contained syndication edits rather than the original broadcast masters. Warner Bros. responded to the complaints, offered a replacement program to receive corrected discs and reissuing the set with corrected broadcast copies on April 4. All episodes are the original broadcast episodes, except for the episode "Number One With a Bullet", disc 1, episode 6.

The entire series is also available for digital download on and the iTunes Store, though the episodes on iTunes are the syndicated versions rather than the original broadcast episodes.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 22 June 8, 2010[7]
The Complete 2nd Season 25 February 14, 2012[8]
The Complete 3rd Season 25 February 12, 2013[9]
The Complete 4th Season 24 February 4, 2014[10]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1991 BMI Film & TV Awards Won BMI TV Music Award Bennett Salvay
1992 BMI TV Music Award Bennett Salvay
1996 Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Individual Achievement in Special Visual Effects Kelly Sandefur
(For episode "Send in the Clone")
1994 NAACP Image Awards Won Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jaleel White
1995 Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress Jaleel White
1996 Nominated Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Jaleel White
1997 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Jaleel White
1996 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Nominated Favorite Television Show
Favorite Television Actor Jaleel White
2008 TV Land Awards Nominated Favorite Character(s) Who "Went Missing" Jaimee Foxworth
1990 Young Artist Award Nominated Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Darius McCrary
Best New Television Series
Won Best Young Actor Guest Starring in a Television Series Randy Josselyn
1991 Nominated Best Young Actress Supporting or Re-Occurring Role for a TV Series Jaimee Foxworth
Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Series Kellie Shanygne Williams
Best Young Actor Starring in a Television Series Darius McCrary
Won Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Jaleel White
1992 Nominated Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series Kellie Shanygne Williams
1993 Nominated Outstanding Young Comedienne in a Television Series Kellie Shanygne Williams
Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series Darius McCrary
Best Young Actress Recurring in a Television Series Cherie Johnson
Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series Patrick J. Dancy
Best Young Actor Co-starring in a Television Series Shawn Harrison
Won Best Young Actor Recurring in a Television Series Bumper Robinson
(Tied with Aeryk Egan for Brooklyn Bridge)

Appearances in other media

  • A 2014 episode of the Comedy Central sketch comedy program Key & Peele featured a sketch about how the Steve Urkel character took over Family Matters, and how that change affected others involved in show. [11]
  • The website Funny or Die featured an 2014 April Fool's skit in which Reginald VelJohnson tried to crowdfund a Family Matters movie, which would cross over with the film series Taken.[12]


  1. ^ Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (2006). Historical Dictionary of African-American Television 7. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 135.  
  2. ^ Fisherkeller, JoEllen (2002). Growing Up With Television: Everyday Learning Among Young Adolescents. Temple University Press. p. 178.  
  3. ^ Haithman, Diane (January 4, 1991). "Is Uncool Urkel the '90s Answer to the Fonz?".  
  4. ^ Bellafante, Ginia (December 9, 1996). "Revenge of The Nerd".  
  5. ^ Hal Boedeker (July 18, 1997). "He's A Goober But CBS Has A Lot Riding On Urkel TV".  
  6. ^ a b c "Top Rating Program 1990-1995". Retrieved October 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters - The Complete First Season". Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters - The Complete Second Season". Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Family Matters DVD news:Announcement for Family Matters - The Complete Third Season". Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Family Matters: The complete Fourth Season DVD". Retrieved October 24, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Uncensored - Key & Peele - Family Matters". YouTube. Comedy Central. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  12. ^

External links

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