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Another Exercise in Lameness: The Winslow Family

posted by B on 4/14/01

It's a rare condition, this day and age,
to read any good news on the newspaper page.
Love and tradition of the grand design,
some people say it's even harder to find.

Racial equality has been a sticking point in America's relationship with itself since slavery began way back in the 1960's. Back then, television was in black and white because people were racists, and all they had to watch were shows where horses surfed. It was a sad time for America, and all we have to show for it today is that one guy's speech about having a dream and that crappy Batman show.

Today, the world is at peace. No longer do groups of a certain race wander the streets, beating black men senseless with clubs or hurling bricks at white truck driver heads. We're light-years past that Cro-Magnon way of thinking. Now, black men and white men stand, arm in arm, making out on the Real World while Puck sticks his fingers in their peanut butter. In the 60's, do you think Puck could've stuck his fingers in a gay man's peanut butter? Of course not, because races were mad at each other, so Pedro and Sean "Puffy" Combs would've never even hooked up. THEN who's peanut butter could Puck finger? Judds? Of course not, because he's too busy fingering the Asian chick. But in the 60's Judd would've hated the Asian chick and probably would've ended up fingering himself. See where this is going?

Me neither. But regardless, remember this: through the progress of the human race, racism has been completely obliterated. What caused this sudden outburst of equality that moved black people up from the back of the bus and into our televisions to discuss the dangers of smoking? One thing. Family Matters.

Before Family Matters, black people on television were cruel and hateful. On "The Cosby Show," an obviously senile old man flippantly traded wisecracks with his disrespectful children over a bowl of delicious Jell-O. On "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," a rich family was being destroyed morally from inside by a hoodlum from the streets. When TGIF (also known as the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ) blessed our Friday Night ABC airwaves it brought with it a breath of fresh air, a breath of sensibility and equality.

You see, "Family Matters" made people of color what they'd never been on television before. Completely and utterly fucking lame. From it's bland characterization to it's zany storylines about time traveling pirates and robot police men, Family Matters stepped from the basic sitcom mold (shaped by Perfect Strangers, Full House, and all that came before it) into the uncharted territory of creative brilliance (inhabited by shows like "Get a Life" and "The Idiot Box"). The show then proceeded to urinate all over everything in this uncharted territory and blow it up with nuclear warheads of illogical irreverence.

It was a show about a family in Chicago learning to appreciate each other and the world around them. But it grew into something more. Something so much more. The family was the Winslows, and they didn't have a foreign exchange student or a midget in a furry alien suit to make them entertaining.

What they did have was a big fat dynamo named Carl to head up their family. Carl was the most obviously homosexual man in the history of television NEVER to embrace it, working the under and overcover beat for the Chicago Police. Feelings of repression and rage built up season after season...Carl would settle down for a relaxing day of watching TV, or building a ship inside of a bottle or something ELSE that only people on television do to relax, and then somebody would waltz in with a problem and stick their inconsiderate dick in his tubby ass. Carl could've whipped off his belt and beaten some sense into the pussified family he raised, but he didn't. He allowed neighbors to live with him, his mother to live with him, orphans to live with him...hell, if you were a Nazi war criminal who was on fire running away from a mob of Italian stereotypes and ninjas Carl would let you into his house.

I never saw him eat or sleep...every time he'd try to do either someone would wander in and mess it up. And it's not your normal "wacky hijinx" on a sitcom...it's not like Balki wants to eat a bologna sandwich and Larry wants him to eat an apple. Oh no. Say that Carl has just gotten home from shooting white people or something, and wants to enjoy a big bucket of Churches Chicken. As those twinkies he calls digits wrap around the grease-infested tendons of the chicken leg, moving ever closer to the succulent black hole, Steve Urkel and basketball player Larry Johnson dressed as a grandmother show up with some pressing issue about caring. Carl would try to shake them off and enjoy his big piece of chicken, and IT WOULD WORK, but then Laura or Eddie or one of the thirteen-thousand children would show up with another pressing issue. And then his wife shows up with a new orphan. And then his mother bitches him out for being so fat.

I don't know how the motherfucker was so fat, he couldn't even take a dump without Urkel wanting to use it for a science experiment.

And what OF Urkel, the infamous Steve Urkel who showed up for a guest spot on the failing first season and stuck around to annoy us for the rest of our lives? Steve went from being the character who was a complete idiot that we ended up feeling sorry for to being the character who tried to make us feel sorry for him but ended up looking like a complete idiot. Urkel is guilty of many, many crimes, one of which is instilling the false hope in geeks across the country that if they just keep badgering the girl they like that they'll end up getting married. Personally I wasted six or seven years of my teenage life believing in the lies Steve placed inside my fragile heart...I paid twenty-five dollars at WALMART for a pair of yellow suspenders and STILL didn't get asked out on a date. What an asshole.

Oh, perhaps I should've created the "BRANDON DANCE" and wowed my school with a choreographed dance routine on the rooftop. That's what Urkel did. Let me ask you a question, if somebody you hate comes up to you, say his name is Mortimer, and says "Hey, let's both do the Mortimer Dance!" Are you going to go "WELL DUH-HUR OKAY" and start breakdancing with the geek? Of course you aren't, you're either going to shove his face into the toilet after gym class or you're going to kick him right square in the nuts then for thinking he can talk to you. People treated Urkel like a piece of wet racoon shit for the show's fifty or sixty seasons, but deep down they ALL REALLY LOVED HIM.

Urkel created all of the following at one time or another, as is my knowledge:

1) A robot that looks like him, that became a cop and could crush a man's bones in it's unforgiving steel grasp.

2) A wooden puppet that looks like him, that came to life and tried to kill everybody.

3) A machine that transformed him into somebody who was cool.

4) A time machine.

5) A jet pack.

6) An atom bomb.

Okay, I'm not making any of that up. The craziest thing they ever did on Full House was that time Joey accidentally punched Stephanie in the nose and she had to take her school picture with a big cast on her face. Urkel was creating devices of destruction and torture in his basement...a geek who was always treated badly creates bombs in his basement...are you following me yet? Columbine and the ten-thousand-kids-who-want-to-be-on-TV-like-the-kids-from-Columbine aren't killing people because Eminem told them that he hates gay people...they're killing people because Urkel showed them that they could fight back with deadly force. The same way Eskimos learned from Steven Seagal.

So that's two things Urkel has taught us: That if we bother the girl we want to bang enough she'll eventually let you bang her and that we can create instruments of death to win our battles. But whenever a problem arose, what did Urkel do? Did he transform himself into somebody cool and send his robot and evil puppet out to rip their throats out? No. He and basketball players dressed up like grandmas to win basketball tournaments.

How can the world NOT be completely warped with Steve Urkel representing the "caring individual who is misunderstood" of our generation? It's the reason that the last thing to go through Kurt Cobain's mind were his teeth. Who could've stopped this nonsense from destroying our fragile little minds?

Well then there must be some magic clue inside these tearful walls
Cause all I see is a tower of dreams
real love burstin' out of every seam.

The "magic clue" inside these tearful walls. Laura. She never did anything but shake her head like a soul sister and style her hair in unattractive ways. She represents the hateful and uncaring female that makes any good man want to hoist the black flag and begin slitting throats. She always TOLD Steve that she didn't want to be his girlfriend...but she always let him hang out inside her house. She always TOLD Steve that she didn't want him around...but she was in EVERY class with him and worked with him at several places that I cannot completely remember. They fought street gangs together with pride, they had pie fights, they did all the things that at least two of the Stooges would've done with honor.

Laura had a long going storyline which featured a "love triangle" between her, Steve, and the "cool" Steve that Steve turned himself into in his machine. You thought this was a sitcom for children? We've got some severe psychological damage going on here. Laura doesn't want Steve to comb his hair or wear some nice clothes...she wants him to enter a machine that changes him completely and then WANTS TO FUCK WHAT COMES OUT OF THE MACHINE. Are we nearing anarchy? Are our lives ending one minute at a time? Did Laura want to have sex with the robot that looked like Steve or the puppet that looked like Steve? Or Carl?

We're missing the point here. Steve is not STEVE. Steve is Laura, her personality and inner-anxieties about "fitting in" manifested into a human being. We never see Urkel's house or parents. We never see Urkel without stupid highwater pants and suspenders on. He is always with Laura, talking about Laura, examining Laura's feelings. Why would Laura's father have such a close and borderline sexual relationship with some neighbor kid who wants to bone his daughter? Because he had that relationship with that side of Laura.

Why did Laura grow to love Steve over time? Why did she always tell him to "go away" and then feel bad about it...why did she always tell him to "go away" at all? She wasn't ready to embrace serious feelings of society and her relevance IN that society. She was too young... a high school kid with nappy hair and a stupid family that couldn't understand that if you keep sticking your hand into the fire you'll burn yourself. How could they understand that she wanted to exist at all?

Whenever you see Urkel out camping with Carl and messing everything up? That's Laura feeling like a dork, feeling like she can't do anything right. When you see Urkel in his basement creating nuclear bombs or basketball grandmothers that's Laura's repressed rage and desire to destroy. It's all there, people, you just have to look at it.

Why did Steve hang out with basketball players dressed as grandmothers? During the run of the show guest stars included Tommy from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, WWF tag team the Bushwhackers (who made their living licking people's heads), Stephanie from Full House...the list goes on and on and on. Why would a middle-class suburban family meet and interact with these people? Because it was all fantasy. Why did R&B acts like New Edition or All 4 One show up every time there was a school dance? It was Laura, manifesting her deepest desires as physical and living in this bizarre "sitcom" world where she could be the object of somebody's affections.

Urkel cared about her...and Laura could mold him any way she wanted. I am Laura's unbridled rage. Once Laura was old enough to accept that she could be a beautiful person, Steve Urkel became "Stephan Urquel" or whatever and Laura LOVED him...because Laura had finally learned to love herself.

I can't explain in written word the importance of what I'm trying to say..."Family Matters" has helped destroy the walls of human prejudice, and at the same time create an intricately woven psyche that is so thick and broad it could have it's own Olympic swim team. The next time your favorite episode of "California Dreams" is over on WGN and Family Matters comes on, don't go "BLARG" and change the channel like you usually do.

Sit down and REALLY watch it.

Apply it to your life, and try to understand the humanity of it all.

One day you won't have it.

You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.

Laura. Steve. Carl. You are them, and they are you. Carl is your bumbling father, and you keep fucking up his sailboat in a bottle. Our fathers were our models for God. If they bailed, what does that tell you about God? You have to be prepared for the possibility that God does not like you.

I met Family Matters at a very strange time in my life.

As days go by....it's the bigger love of the Family. Learn to love yourself.

b
swan@whatever-dude.com
IM: NotAGoonie

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