Family Matters

Family Matters Information

Family Matters is an American sitcom about a middle-class African American family living in Chicago, Illinois, which ran for nine seasons. The series is a spin-off of Perfect Strangers, but revolves around the Winslow family. 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 a main character. Family Matters aired from September 22, 1989, to September 19, 1997, on ABC, and on CBS from September 19, 1997, to July 17, 1998.

With 215 episodes, Family Matters is the third longest-running U.S. sitcom with a predominantly African American cast, behind Tyler Perry's House of Payne and The Jeffersons.


Family Matters originally focused on the character of police officer Carl Winslow and his family: wife Harriette Winslow, son Eddie Winslow, elder daughter Laura Winslow, and youngest child Judy Winslow (until Season 4).

In the pilot episode, the family had also opened their home to Carl's street-wise mother, Estelle Winslow (usually known as "Mother Winslow"). Prior to the start of the series, Harriette's sister, Rachel Crawford, and her infant son, Richie Crawford, had moved into the Winslow household after the death of Rachel's husband.

The Winslows' nerdy teenaged next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel, was introduced midway through the first season and quickly became the focus of the show. The popular sitcom was part of ABC's TGIF 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 Jaleel White, including Steve's suave alter-ego Stefan Urquelle and his female cousin Myrtle Urkel.

Network change

In early 1997, CBS bought Family Matters and Step by Step for $40 million from ABC. 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 parent company, Disney. 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 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 line-up they called the "CBS Block Party" and put the "CBS Block Party" 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.


See List of Family Matters characters for more information

Main cast

Actor Character Duration
Reginald VelJohnson Carl Winslow All seasons
Jo Marie Payton Harriette Winslow (nee Baines) #1 All seasons
Judyann Elder Harriette Winslow #2 Late Season 9
Darius McCrary Edward "Eddie" Winslow All seasons
Kellie Shanygne Williams Laura Winslow All seasons
Valerie Jones Judith "Judy" Winslow Pilot episode only
Jaimee Foxworth Seasons 1"4
Rosetta LeNoire Estelle "Mother" Winslow Regular: Seasons 1"7
Recurring: Seasons 8"9
Jaleel White Steven "Steve" Urkel
Stefan Urquelle (recurring)
Myrtle Urkel (recurring)
Cornelius "OGD" Urkel (guest)
Recurring: Season 1
Regular: Seasons 2"9
Telma Hopkins Rachel Crawford (née Baines) Regular: Seasons 1"4
Recurring: Season 6 and 9
Joseph & Julius Wright Richard "Richie" Crawford Season 1
Bryton McClure Regular: Seasons 2"7
Recurring: Seasons 8"9
Orlando Brown Jerry Jamal "3J" Jameson Recurring: Season 7
Regular: Seasons 8"9
Michelle Thomas Myra Monkhouse Recurring: Seasons 4"5
Regular: Seasons 6"9
Shawn Harrison Waldo Geraldo Faldo Recurring: seasons 2"3
Regular: Seasons 4"7


See List of Family Matters episodes for more information Family Matters' average Nielsen ratings for its first eight seasons on ABC (1989"1997) was #32.

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
Season 3 25 September 20, 1991 May 8, 1992 #27
Season 4 24 September 18, 1992 May 14, 1993 #30
Season 5 24 September 24, 1993 May 20, 1994 #30
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 Perfect Strangers) and developed by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett (also producers of Perfect Strangers), it was also executive produced by Bickley, Warren, Miller and Boyett. 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 Time Warner banner). 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

Theme song

The show's original theme was "What a Wonderful World;" it was scrapped after the first 5 episodes, 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 (this was heard in season one episodes in ABC Family and syndicated airings). A longer version of "As Days Go By" can be heard in the first 3 seasons, though in syndicated reruns the short version is heard (in ABC Family airings, the long theme was used for all of the season 1-3 episodes).

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 Vanderbilt High School hall 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 a 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 in its own opening credits from season three until the end 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 W. 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). In season seven, the opening theme song and credits were dropped. The names of cast members, co-executive producers and executive producers were shown in the opening teaser for seasons seven through nine.

The role of Richie as a baby was credited as being played by "Joseph J. Wright" in season 1 (the duo was credited this way because the show's producers did not want audiences to know that Richie was then played by twins). Julius' name was made to appear as Joseph's middle name in the titles (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 TV or film production to be played by twins). Another Miller-Boyett production, Full House credited Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen in the same manner in its opening credits until its seventh season. In season five after Telma Hopkins left the show, Jaleel White was now 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" (Hopkins was credited similarly as "And Telma Hopkins as Rachel" prior to season five).

Crossovers with other TGIF shows

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

  • 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 1991 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. In an episode of Boy Meets World, Cory says he receives a chain letter from his friend Steve. 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, when ABC Family removed the show from their line-up. BET aired reruns briefly in December 2009. As of March 1, 2013, they air re-runs again. The show aired on Nick at Nite, a U.S. cable network, 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.

DVD releases

Warner Home Video has released the first three seasons of Family Matters on DVD in Region 1.

The first 3 seasons are also available for digital download on and the iTunes Store.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Complete 1st Season 22 June 8, 2010
The Complete 2nd Season 25 February 14, 2012
The Complete 3rd Season 25 February 12, 2013

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)

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Family_Matters" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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