Cassius Life Featured Video

Source: Bob D’Amico / Getty

The 90’s sitcom Family Matters was a smash hit for its upright depiction of Black love and middle-class Black America. And nerdy neighbor Steven Quincy Urkel, played by Jaleel White, was introduced in the first season’s 12th episode for that singular appearance and never to be seen again. Urkel became the show’s unintended breakout star, however, and that made White’s castmates ready to see the network pull the plug on him.

“I was not welcomed to the cast at all. They know what it was,” he says in the newest episode of TVOne’s Uncensored. “I didn’t think anything of it, being cast to be on Family Matters, because it was supposed to be a guest spot, one and done.” The character of Steve Urkel became so popular that he eventually had crossover cameos on other ABC “TGIF” shows, his own lunchbox, trading cards, “Urkel Dance,” and even a short-lived cereal called Urkel-O’s.

This is not a new revelation, per se, but it may be the most candid White has been about his experience on the show. In fact, he echoed parallel sentiments to Vanity Fair a decade ago. “Things were definitely strained in the early going. There’s no sense in hiding that. There was a division between myself and the rest of the cast,” he shared in 2011. But White did continue to say that “over nine years and 215 episodes, obviously relationships get better. I still talk to certain cast members to this day.”

Two years ago, Entertainment Weekly reunited the cast to celebrate the 30-year anniversary of the show, and some of them also spoke again with TVOne to discuss why Family Matters meant so much to the culture. “Black shows weren’t popular when we came out [in 1989],” highlighted Reginald VelJohnson, famous for the role of Chicago P.D. captain and patriarch Carl Winslow. “I think that we were all surprised it lasted nine years. And I think the reason that it lasted nine years is because we were [relatable].” And his on-air spouse Jo Marie Payton agreed. “We were more relatable, I think, than any other Black show that ever hit [the airwaves]. We were not like The Jeffersons, we were not like [The Cosby Show], we were not like Moesha, and those were all great shows.”

But on Sunday, White speaks on a confrontation he had with VelJohnson and Payton, specifically regarding his portrayal of Steve Urkel’s cousin Myrtle. White briefly addressed it in the 2017 sit-down with his former castmates and EW. This time around, though, White goes deeper in sharing how it affected him and how his father, Michael, laid down the law on Jaleel’s behalf.

Make sure to tune to TVOne’s Uncensored on Sunday, May 17 at 10 p.m. EST/9 p.m. CST.