Family Matters was originally meant as a vehicle for actor Jo Marie Payton. She played Harriette Winslow, a wisecracking elevator operator in the building where Larry Appleton and Balki Bartokomous worked in Perfect Strangers. Producers liked her so much they built a show around the character and the rest of the Winslow family, including her husband Carl and their kids Eddie and Laura.
But something unexpected happened halfway into the first season: Jaleel White burst in as Steve Urkel, the Winslows’ nerdy neighbor. With his high-water pants, suspenders, oversized glasses, and signature saying, “Did I do that?” he became the TV show’s breakout star. Ironically, White was supposed to appear in only one episode, but he made such an impression that he became the main character.
- Main cast: Jaleel White, Jo Marie Payton, Kellie Shanygne Williams, Reginald VelJohnson, Darius McCrary
- Creators: William Bickley, Michael Warren
- Genres: Comedy, sitcom
- Original release: 1989-1998
- Seasons: 9
- Plot: A middle-class American family navigates comical misunderstandings and misadventures often caused by their annoying young neighbor.
- Streaming: HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video
- Theme song: “As Days Go By”
- Fun fact: The show’s theme song sounds like “Everywhere You Look” from Full House because the same composer, Jesse Frederick, wrote both of them.
- If you like Family Matters, you might also like: The Cosby Show, Full House, The Jeffersons, Step by Step
- Cultural lexicon: “Did I do that?”
Visit the Family Matters website.