Every hit show seems to have its share of drama that went on behind the scenes — and Family Matters is apparently no exception!
Tuesday night’s episode of E!’s True Hollywood Story is taking viewers back to the days of T.G.I.F.: a mega popular two-hour Friday night block of family sitcoms that included the likes of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, and Full House.
Family Matters was one of the biggest hits in the lineup that over 24 million Americans tuned in for every week. But making a highly-rated show didn’t come without challenges, according to the cast of the show!
Jaleel White, who played the iconic Steve Urkel, explained:
“My arrival to Family Matters was a rocky start at the beginning.”
For those who don’t know, Urkel was originally meant to be a one-time only character. However, Jaleel stole the show halfway through season one with his huge personality — so much so that producers gradually shifted the entire focus of Family Matters from the Winslow family to the teen with the glasses and the catchphrase.
Did he do that? Yes, he did. Naturally, this caused some friction among the cast. White said of his co-stars:
“They kind of had to accept that I was there. That was a process.”
Jo Marie Payton, who played Harriette Winslow recalled the original cast grew “a little resentful” toward White after the showrunners told them the “dynamic was going to change” and “the show was gonna be about him.” She shared:
“And we said ‘Okay.’ We weren’t happy about it. I think along the way it got to be a little resentful but it was just an adjustment that we had to make.”
But the cast learned to adjust after Family Matters rose in the rankings and Urkel became a cultural phenomenon.
Not every cast member found it easy to adapt to the changes, though. White said of Jaimee Foxworth, who was just 10 years old when she joined the sitcom:
“I remember Jamie saying something to me on set like, ‘Well, my mom said I was supposed to get my storyline before you.’”
As fate would have it, Foxworth’s character disappeared without explanation after season four — but producers insist it wasn’t because she was anti-Urkel. Executive producer and T.G.I.F. creator Jim Janicek told cameras there simply “wasn’t a lot for her to do as a character,” while Family Matters co-creator William Bickley says he just assumed the studio wanted to “cut the budget.”
Whatever the reason for Jaimee’s firing, her on-screen mother was gutted. Peyton explained:
“I asked Bill what happened and he said, ‘Well, nobody’s gonna notice Jo,’ and I resented that. It was hurtful. It was like you didn’t care anything about Black families. Carl and Harriette would never throw their kids away. They would never do it.”
All we can say is: fans would be LIVID if a show tried to pull a stunt like that now!
For more behind the scenes dramz, ch-ch-check out the preview clip (below) and make sure to watch the Family Matters cast on E!’s True Hollywood Story Tuesday night at 10 p.m..
[Image via Warner Bros]