Family Matters

Common Sense Media says

Urkel and company still offer lots of family fun.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The importance of family, friendship, and doing the right thing are always major themes in the show.

Positive role models

In this loving family, character is more important than looks or style. Some needling among family members/siblings (and between Carl and Urkel, of course), but it's all mild and played for laughs.

Violence & scariness

The dad is a cop, so police work is discussed; also, a couple of episodes cover the dangers of guns.

Sexy stuff

Some smooching, innuendos too subtle for young kids, and teens talking about sexiness -- but the overall message is self respect and respect for others. Urkel has a long-standing, innocent crush on Laura; his alter-ego is much suaver with the ladies.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

When substance use is mentioned, it's portrayed as "messed up" behavior.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this series' message is to treat yourself and others with respect. Some episodes tackle racism, sexism, family dysfunction, school bullying, and gun violence, but these issues are never glorified; instead, characters find healthy ways to deal with the problems of modern life. As the kids on the series mature, so do plots about teen dating. Teens kiss and talk about sexiness, and two women characters comically "throw themselves" at men (who find it unattractive). But on the whole, this show is both fun and healthy.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

FAMILY MATTERS was launched in 1989 as a spin-off of Perfect Strangers and originally focused on the home life of Harriette Winslow (Jo Marie Payton) and her husband Carl (Reginald VelJohnson). The Winslows' nerdy next-door neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White), was introduced midway through the first season as a one-time character but quickly became the focus of the show.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Urkel is one of TV's most iconic comedic characters. Bespectacled, high-voiced, and sporting high-water pants, suspenders, and saddle shoes, he's profoundly (and dangerously) clumsy, so smart it's a problem, and generally out of touch with most social norms. Most episodes start with Urkel making an unannounced visit to the Winslow home at precisely the wrong moment, full of good intentions that always backfire (White is a talented physical comedian) and generally wreaking havoc on the Winslows.

As the series progresses, Urkel invents more and more technologically improbable gadgets, including a transformation chamber that he uses to change himself into cool, sexy Stefan Urquelle. Laura falls for Stefan, and yet Steve turns himself back into the nerdy guy Laura and the Winslows find so annoying. Why? Because, he says simply, he likes himself. And that might just be the heart of Family Matters: Despite how often he gets on their nerves, the Winslows always come to appreciate Urkel's good intentions, his company, and his inner strength. They always come around to taking his side, and he takes theirs from the get-go. Family Matters isn't just a classic sitcom. Full of funny moments and life lessons about the value of family, friends, and friends who become family, it's still a terrific show for families to watch together.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about choosing friends based on character. Why do the Winslows keep opening their door to Urkel if he's so irritating? Why do they forgive him for the trouble he seems to cause? What makes Urkel so odd, and what is good about him? How is he actually similar to the Winslows? Also, when he has the chance to turn himself into ultra-cool Stefan, why should he do it -- or not do it? What would you do (or not do) for a friend or for the person you love?

TV details

Cast:Jaleel White, JoMarie Payton, Reginald VelJohnson
Networks:ABC Family, Nickelodeon, Syndicated
Genre:Comedy
Topics:Brothers and sisters
TV rating:TV-G
Available on:DVD

This review of Family Matters was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old November 4, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Awesome~

I love this show! It's actually funny and heartwarming, a favorite.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byThe JP Show June 8, 2009
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Message is clear

Unlike most disney sitcoms, the message is clear , The show is very enjoyable. I Give a kindergardener excepetion on some episodes. Parental advisory given on some episodes like "The Gun" and "DUDES". Great show for families to watch together.
Adult Written byAngela33 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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