In the age of reboots and remakes, there seems to be no stone left unturned. A lot of classic 90’s Black sitcoms are seeing new life on services like Netflix and getting reboot orders over on streaming services like HBO Max. One show is infamous in TV history and despite the good vibes happening in the business, the star that was mistreated is no longer interested in staying silent.
Family Matters ran for a number of seasons as part of the “TGIF” Friday programming block and saw stars Jaleel Urkel and Darius McCrary break out in later years due to their runs on the show. The show followed the template set by other successful Black sitcoms of the time, such as The Cosby Show, which had gone off the air only 5 years before.
HBO Max has announced that the iconic sitcom family from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is reuniting for a special to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the show, for example. Fans were surprised to see the original Aunt Viv, Janet Hubert-Whitten, back for the special. She’s been very vocal about her exit from the show over the years, both dragging Will Smith and the industry in general about their treatment of Black actors and other issues related to television.
With shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air receiving reunion specials and new, original remakes, Family Matters as content to be exploited was sure to be revived in some way, and it was. While the show hasn’t had a run of success for its stars like Will Smith, it also had its share of issues over the years. Many fans remember that actress Jaimee Foxworth, who played young daughter Judy Winslow, disappeared at the end of the fourth season, never to return.
The actress, who was 13 at the time, remembers the whole thing differently, given that she was unaware of how the business works behind the scenes. She told The Root a few years ago what happened.
“The producers felt that they could do it and no one would notice. They’d done it with previous shows they had. They figured no one would really care. My fans took notice of it,” Foxworth said. “They figured they could just throw me away, no explanation at all. Some of my cast members knew before I did.” One might have been Jaleel White, whose “Steve Urkel” character being upgraded to the main cast being the true reason for Foxworth’s dismissal – upping his salary led to the need for a cut in characters and salaries.
After the show, Foxworth gained some infamy for pursuing a career as an adult film star, but in the time since, she’s now simply taking care of her son, having last done an adult film over a decade ago. “Sure, I did adult films, but the only people that are going to be shocked about it are kids. It’s not shocking. I did not kill anyone. I didn’t murder anyone,” she said after the cast was invited to do a reunion shoot for Entertainment Weekly and she wasn’t invited.
Foxworth felt there could have been a discussion around her character’s disappearance in the grand scheme of the show and a potential reboot. “By being included, it could have started a conversation about how certain people in a family don’t always do what everyone agrees with.”