When you think of classic sitcoms from the ’90s, Family Matters springs to mind. The show was a staple on ABC’s TGIF lineup and introduced audiences to one of the most memorable neighbors of all time — Steve Urkel. While his role was only intended to be minor, he was a hit with audiences, and the show more or less was retooled to make him the center.
Still, the other members of the Winslow family were important as well. Even though the “family” in Family Matters seemed to rotate out a bit (yes, Laura had a sister at one point) the show, which you can watch streaming, still included a fair amount of touching moments and very important lessons.
Produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, the show started airing in 1989 and wrapped up in 1998 on another network. Today, you can watch Family Matters online, as Family Matters is streaming. Here’s the best way to watch.
How to Watch Family Matters Online & Stream the Complete Series
Among all the streaming services, Hulu has exclusive rights to every episode of Family Matters. There are a couple different options when signing up for Hulu, but either one will get you access to the show’s complete library:
If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
If you want to go from watching Hulu’s on-demand library to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
After signing up for either of the above options, you can watch any episode of Family Matters on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many Family Matters Seasons Are There?
There are nine seasons of Family Matters — the first eight aired on ABC, and the last season was picked up by CBS. Here’s a review of every season.
Family Matters Season 1
22 Episodes | September 1989 – April 1990
Viewers are introduced to the Winslow family, including father Carl, a cop, elevator operator Harriette Winslow, Harriette’s sister Rachel, and Rachel’s young son, Richie. Harriette and Rachel’s relationships with each other were tested in a few episodes. Laura and Eddie, Harriette’s kids, also have issues with school and grades. In one episode, Carl tries to force Eddie to try out for the basketball team, even though he shows little interest. Steve Urkel appears for the first time in episode 12, “Laura’s First Date.” Carl tries to push Laura to give Urkel a chance for a school dance — needless to say, she’s not too happy about it.
Family Matters Season 2
25 Episodes | September 1990 – May 1991
In the second season, Urkel becomes a regular — all starting at episode one, “Rachel’s Place.” In it, Rachel finds enough money to open up her own diner. Steve and Laura are paired together at school for a project to teach them about marriage, but Carl ends up learning how to improve his own. Eddie crashes his car into the house after failing to get his drivers license, and Steve and Laura are held hostage during a Halloween bank robbery.
Family Matters Season 3
25 Episodes | September 1991 – May 1992
In “Brain Over Brawn,” Steve creates a jetpack. The end of the episode shows him flying out of the screen, and right into the next show in the TGIF lineup — Step By Step — which was a fun crossover for fans. That’s not the only thing he invents this season. He also creates the UrkelBot in an episode titled “Robo-Nerd.” Near the end of the season, Steve, Eddie, and their friend Waldo appear on a dating show called “Dudes.”
Family Matters Season 4
24 Episodes | September 1992 – May 1993
Jaimee Foxworth, who plays younger sister Judy, ended her time with Family Matters midway through the season, with the episode called “Mama’s Wedding.” Telma Hopkins, who plays Rachel, is also phased out throughout the season. In one memorable episode, Urkel and Carl share a hospital room after Urkel gets appendicitis and Carl gets wounded on the job. Waldo joins the US Army reserves after Urkel attacks his intelligence. Carl battles over house rules with both Eddie and Urkel throughout the season, and Myra, played by Michelle Thomas, makes her first appearance.
Family Matters Season 5
24 Episodes | September 1993 – May 1994
Carl gets self-conscious about losing his hair and invests in a toupee during the season premiere. Eddie faces issues with gambling, and Urkel gets depressed when he assumes nobody remembers his birthday. Eddie briefly considers putting off college in favor of a songwriting career but gets back on track academically. Carl has a bad dream that includes Urkel and Laura falling in love, getting married, and having a bunch of children together. Season five is also where fans meet Urkel’s alter-ego who was gifted with the “cool genes,” Stefan Urquelle.
Family Matters Season 6
25 Episodes | September 1994 – May 1995
Eddie has to choose his friendship with Steve over a fraternity invite in the sixth season of the show. During their Christmas episode, Richie brings home a homeless man, which bothers Carl at first — until he learns the true meaning of Christmas. Urkel raises awareness for a bone marrow drive after a bully at his school learns he has leukemia. Stefan Urquelle appears once again and gets engaged to Laura while the family is in Orlando — much to Myra’s dismay. Eventually, Laura realizes he needs to switch back to Urkel.
Family Matters Season 7
24 Episodes | September 1995 – May 1996
Urkel and Laura accidentally see each other naked, which leads to a lot of embarrassment for both of them. Even though he’s with Myra, Urkel starts having a crush on a bug collector and feels like he might be sabotaging his own relationship. Eddie dates a girl named Greta, but gets into some hot water with her parents after he brings her home after curfew. During Christmas, Carl gets upset that Urkel wants to decorate the Winslow house with a bunch of crazy lights and decor until he realizes there’s a light contest happening that could earn him a cash prize. In an episode titled “Friendship Cycles,” Carl teaches Urkel how to ride a bike.
Family Matters Season 8
24 Episodes | September 1996 – Mahy 1997
On their last season at ABC, Orlando Brown joined the cast as 3J. Opening the season with a two-parter, the Winslows go to Paris thanks to Steve’s latest invention — the Urk-Pad. While there, Laura and Stefan become models. Stefan stays in Paris, only to be reunited with Laura in the episode “Home Again,” which also features a cameo by R&B group New Edition.
Family Matters Season 9
22 Episodes | September 1997 – July 1998
Season nine took place on CBS, and Harriette Winslow, once played by Jo Marie Payton, was replaced by an actress named Judyann Elder midway through the season. Steve and Stefan both propose to Laura, and Laura chooses Steve — since she realizes she can’t live without him. During the two-part finale, Urkel briefly gets lost in space but comes back a hero.
What Are the Best Family Matters Episodes?
Like with many sitcoms from the ’90s, there were a few standout episodes of Family Matters that fans will always remember. Here’s a list of the best Family Matters episodes.
Season 2, Episode 20: “Fight The Good Fight”
This episode of the show is memorable because it tackles an important topic — racism. During Black History Month, Laura thinks it’d be a great idea to get a black history class at school. But after creating the petition, she sees a racial slur spray painted on her locker and a note that says “If you want Black History, go back to Africa.” Laura is encouraged by her family to keep fighting and shield out the cruelty.
Season 4, Episode 10: “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Urkel”
After Urkel unintentionally breaks a crystal ornament, Laura gets upset and tells him that if only he could see what dealing with him is like in her shoes. So, the two swap personalities and Laura becomes the annoying next door neighbor. After seeing what it’s like to be Urkel, she feels bad for making him feel guilty over his own clumsiness.
Season 5, Episode 8: “Dr. Urkel and Mr. Cool”
This episode was the first that showcased Stefan Urquelle — who, obviously, became a fan favorite. (And as a bonus, it must have been nice for Jaleel White to be able to tone it down a little.) Sure, like many episodes of “Family Matters” you have to step away from reality a bit. But if there’s anyone to invent a machine that can switch up genes, it’s Steve Urkel.
Season 6, Episode 8: “Sink or Swim”
As smart as Urkel is, graduation is on the line since he’s having trouble with physical education. Carl tries to teach him to swim, even though he’s got a fear of the water. So, he thinks up a genius way for him to get over his fear — and it involves Laura.
Who Are the Actors in the Family Matters Cast?
Even though Urkel’s character retooled the show a bit, the main focus was always on the family. Here are the people who made the Winslows so relatable, and Family Matters such a staple to the TGIF lineup.
Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow
Reginald VelJohnson played cop and father Carl Winslow, and it’s his best and most notable role to date. In 2016, he appeared in Hitting the Breaks as Chauncey Van Delaware and played himself in a 2018 episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
Kellie Shanygne Williams as Laura Winslow
VelJohnson and Kellie Shanygne Williams, who played Laura Winslow, were the only two to appear in all 215 episodes of Family Matters. Since the show ended, Williams played Alice Adams in the television series What About Joan and Cee Cee in the movie Steppin: The Movie, which came out in 2009. She has no recent acting credits.
Darius McCrary as Eddie Winslow
Darius McCrary played Eddie, the high school student who never seemed to make the right decision. He’s appeared as Otis Leecan in the series Star and has also focused on his music career. In 2000, he provided a few songs for the TV movie Something to Sing About.
Jaleel White as Steve Urkel
Jaleel White was the breakout star of the series — his character was initially never meant to be a regular, but he was credited in 208 episodes. Another series he spent time on was Grown Ups, where he played J. Calvin Frazier in 22 episodes. These days, he’s steadily working and has always had at least one project to work on. Currently, he’s working on a movie called Faithfully where he’ll be playing the role of Dwayne.
Jo Marie Payton as Harriette Winslow
It’s safe to say the show fell apart after they recast Harriette in the last season, but Jo Marie Payton will always be tied to the role. The show was actually a spinoff of Frasier, and it came together based on the character of Harriette. A few years ago, Payton worked on a show called Mann and Wife, and she’s currently filming a movie called Heart of a Champion.
Rosetta LeNoire as Estelle Winslow
Often called “Mother Winslow,” Rosetta LeNoire — who passed away in 2002 at the age of 90 — only had one credit after Family Matters wrapped up. She played a nurse in a 1998 episode of Cosby.
Bryton James as Richie Crawford
Bryton James played Richie, the son of Rachel — and he was actually in a lot more episodes than Telma Hopkins, who played his mom. James has become incredibly successful as a soap star. Since 2004, he’s played the role of Devon Hamilton Winters on The Young and the Restless, and he’s also done voiceover work on Young Justice.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on Family Matters?
For a show that was on the air for so long, Family Matters didn’t have many notable guest stars — plots focused around the family, and their relationship with neighbor Steve Urkel. Urkel himself has appeared on other shows, namely Full House and Step By Step when both were simultaneously airing on ABC.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind Family Matters?
Most people know that Family Matters is a “Miller-Boyett Production,” but there were more key players in making Family Matters such a hit. Here are the top writers and creators behind the show.
Robert L. Boyett and Thomas L. Miller: Family Matters Developers
Boyett and Miller are known for partnering up with some of the biggest hits of the ’90s. Not only did they work together on Family Matters, but they also served as executive producers on Full House, Step By Step, and Two of a Kind.
Rich Correll: Family Matters Director
Rich Correll directed 86 episodes of Family Matters between 1989 and 1998. He’s also credited for his work on The Suite Life on Deck back in 2010. He’s currently working as a director on the Netflix reboot of Full House, called Fuller House.
William Bickley: Family Matters Creator and Executive Producer
William Bickley is credited as creating the idea of the show. He also has executive producer rights on Step By Step His last producing credit was in 2002, for a television movie called Anna’s Dream.
Fred Fox Jr: Family Matters Writer and Producer
Fred Fox Jr. had a big part in creating Family Matters. He was a supervising producer for 72 episodes and a co-executive producer for 68. But he also wrote 38 episodes between 1990 and 1998.
Where Family Matters Ranks in the Television Pantheon
Because it aired during such a crucial block of television, many people grew up with the Winslow family. Family Matters, at its start, was key in teaching valuable lessons. Laura and Eddie weren’t the only ones who learned — Carl and Harriette also improved themselves throughout the run of the series. It was also an important show an African American family, as the only other breakout show to do so was The Cosby Show. Carl and Harriette’s jobs were much less glamorous than those of the Huxtables, with Carl getting in a lot of close calls as a cop. This scenario just made them more relatable to those in the working class.
However, the show really lost its footing in the later seasons — and almost became a joke. The focus was more on Steve Urkel and his antics than the actual family dynamic, and replacing Harriette was a misstep. “It was hard for me after nine years of doing something with one person. It’s like getting a divorce and then marrying somebody else,” VelJohnson said to Entertainment Weekly. “It was weird.” Payton admitted she wasn’t happy on the show and has no regrets on leaving.
If you’re streaming Family Matters, put all of your focus in the first few seasons, when things were still fresh. The final season alone is almost like a completely different show.