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Family Matters Star Shares Strong Feelings About Judy Winslow Disappearing From TGIF Sitcom

Jo Marie Payton and Jamiee Foxworth
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

To this day, Family Matters is still one of the few sitcoms to feature a multigenerational Black family living under one roof. While Steve Urkel’s chaotic nerdy energy brought in plenty of viewers, it was arguably the strong Winslow family unit that made them stay. The fictional family changed drastically, however, when the youngest child, Judy Winslow, stopped appearing without being formally written out. Many fans still wonder about the character and why things went down the way they did with her. But it wasn’t just viewers who were uneasy about her absence as one series alum has some strong feelings on the matter.

Family Matters matriarch Jo Marie Payton served as the jumping point for the series, as her character, Harriette, spun off from another ABC sitcom, Perfect Strangers. While working on the TGIF sitcom, Payton functioned as a second mother to her younger castmates. (Of course, Jaleel White might have a distinct perspective after not feeling welcomed initially.) Given the cast's closeness, it's understandable that the veteran actress would have a visceral reaction to her TV daughter running up the stairs during a fourth season episode and never returning.

She and castmates Reginald VelJohnson, Kellie Shanygne Williams and Darius McCrary recently reunited for '90s Con, during which the word “reboot” was thrown. When asked about the possibility of one, the TV mom said she would only consider it if Judy actress Jaimee Foxworth was written back into the sitcom. During the discussion (via People), the 71-year-old star got candid about her initial response to Foxworth's departure:

When I mentioned it to the producers, I said you guys need to tell me something that is not only creative, but also politically correct to straighten out this situation because there's nowhere in the world a family… You gave me three kids; you took away my baby. If you had taken away my oldest child, we could have always come up with [various excuses in the episodes] that she was at the mall or with her friends. You took away my baby, and when I asked you, 'Why did you take away my baby girl?,' you said, 'Nobody would notice.’ I said, 'You know what, when we're walking down the street, nobody's gonna notice you because they're not going to ask you, they're going to ask me what happened to Judy.'

It would seem that the star's assumptions proved to be correct, considering that many did indeed notice that the Winslow family was down one kid. While Judy's disappearance seemed to hurt the actress on a personal level, it's nice to hear her speak up for her former co-star.

Jo Marie Payton also had the best idea for reintroducing Judy Winslow if a reboot were to happen. As a nod to the last time audiences saw the youngest Winslow, she felt Jaimee Foxworth should come down the stairs in the first episode of a purported sequel series. Personally, I'm hoping that some studio is already considering a revival of sorts.

Aside from the Judy Winslow talk, it appears the Family Matters cast had fun at the convention, based on fellow TGIF vet Candace Cameron Bure’s ace pics. The cast has been doing a few things since the iconic sitcom ended its run in 1998, so the fact that they took the time to meet with fans is very special. Let's hope this recent reunion helps spark some genuine interest in a follow-up of sorts.

If you want to relive the joy of Family Matters, you can subscribe to Hulu, join Amazon Prime, or grab an HBO Max subscription to watch all nine seasons of the beloved sitcom.

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