If you’re anywhere between the ages of, say, 20 and 35 and reading this website, the question of whether you gleefully devoured ABC’s Friday night, family-friendly line-up TGIF is purely rhetorical. Of course you did.
There’s no doubt you loved Full House, Step By Step, Boy Meets World, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Perfect Strangers, and a variety of other ridiculously addictive shows. (Personally, I spent those Friday evenings stretched out on the floor of my living room with my three siblings and several Book It-earned personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut. Holla! The ’90s were amazing.) But when it comes to one show in particular on that line-up, the block’s anchor for years — that’d be 8 p.m. resident Family Matters — the question isn’t whether you watched, but instead: What’s your opinion on Urkel? Because you certainly watched, and you certainly have an opinion on the polarizing character.
I recently found myself thinking about Family Matters after I stumbled across a rerun on Nick at Nite. I began wondering: What do people think of first when they first recall the series? Well, a few might mention the memorable opening credits, which were set to the catchy theme song “As Days Go By” (I can still sing the whole thing!), but I’m guessing lion’s share of folks would most quickly associate Family Matters with the Winslow family’s annoying neighbor, the purveyor of all things nerd, Steve Urkel. Throughout the ’90s — with his tube socks, huge glasses, suspenders, and jeans pulled up far beyond his belly button — he was the icon of what a dork should be.
As much as I want to say that I hate him — because that seems like the reaction you should have to such a seemingly repulsive character — I have to admit something startling: I loved — and still love — Urkel. I had the talking Urkel doll back in the day. I secretly rooted for him to end up with Laura Winslow and not that impostor skank Myra. I loved it when he riled up Carl in nearly every episode. I felt bad for him when everyone was mean to him. I loved that he could turn himself into the much-more-suave Stefan Urkquelle through a crazy contraption he kept in his basement. And I repeated his catchphrases — everyone’s favorite: “Did I do that?” — at ever turn throughout elementary school.
Who’s with me?
Now that I’ve professed my love for Urkel, tell me, dear PopWatch readers: Did you love or hate him? Vote in our poll here — and sound off with your opinions in the comments section further below!
Tanner on Twitter: @EWTanStransky