Family Matters (TV Series 1989–1998) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • The Winslow family deal with various misadventures, many of them caused by their pesky next-door neighbor, ultra-nerd Steve Urkel.

  • The Winslow family is a pretty normal family except for one thing, their neighbor Stephen Urkel. A genius and klutz Steve makes some really weird inventions while driving the Winslows insane.

  • Originally, "Family Matters" a spin-off series of the successful "Perfect Strangers" was conceived to focus on the Winslows, a middle-class suburban Chicago black family. Harriet was the sarcastic elevator operator at the Chicago Chronicle newspaper while her portly husband, Carl, was a Chicago police sergeant; they had three children Eddie (14), Laura (12) and Judy (9). While somewhat successful in its early months on the air, "Family Matters" didn't become a true hit until the appearance of the Winslow's next door neighbor kid, Steve Urkel. The bespectacled Urkel, complete with high-pitched voice and suspenders, was the ultimate nerd who had an unrequited crush on Laura. His well-meaning but clumsy ways, in addition to countless back-firing contraptions and visits at inopportune times, caused no end of grief for Eddie, Laura and especially Carl; Harriet, however, was more understanding. Also a part of the action were Harriet's recently widowed sister, Rachel Crawford (she operated a local hangout, Rachel's Place), and her son, Richie; Carl's mother, Estelle; Eddie's slow-witted pal, Waldo; Laura's friend, MAXINE; and Myra Monkhouse, a beautiful teen-ager with a huge crush for Urkel. As the years went on, Urkel developed a special transformation chamber to allow himself to change into suave Stefan Urquelle, whom Laura fell for; it was a way for the nerd to finally win the object of his affection. Laura eventually got to appreciate Urkel's company, and eventually, fell in love with him. Carl was eventually promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, finally attaining the rank of captain. In later years, Urkel moved in with the Winslows (when his parents abandoned him in moving to Russia); and Carl and Harriet (long after their daughter, Judy, disappeared from the scene without explanation) adopted 3J, a local orphan who was friends with Richie. While many episodes seemed to focus on Urkel and Carl, a number of shows explored serious topics, including gangs, police brutality, teen-age drinking and guns in school. The show ran on ABC from 1989 through 1997 as a cornerstone of that network's "TGIF" programming block; it and "Step by Step," another "TGIF" series, switched to CBS for both series' final season.


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