November 26, 2010

Steve Urkel: A Retrospective.

It should have been a true “revenge of the nerds” success story. Instead, it played out like a slippery slope oiled with comedic atrophy and worn-out catchphrases, causing a major viewer revolt. Couch potatoes turned into snobby French Fries, demanding something better. (And probably saltier.) The potatoes had spoken: Steven Quincy Urkel was out.
TGIF: Thank God It’s the goddamn Finale!
On July 17th, 1998, after ten years as America’s go-to nerd-in-suspenders, Urkel was launched into space for the series finale (…logically), and after a testy few TV minutes, he returns to the Winslow home, safe and sound. Sadly, he never returned into the homes of America.

Steve Urkel remains one of the most infamously annoying people to occupy the airwaves, sporting suspenders made of woman-repellant and the voice of kitten rape. He was a blundering genius and serial stalker who incessantly asked people that he’d just pissed off if he did indeed just piss them off. (The answer is always yes. Forever, yes Steve, you did do that.) And for nine seasons, America tolerated him. Hell, some even accepted the 100 pounds of squinting sexual repression with open arms.

And some wore blackface to...ya tribute. pop culture-obsessed vagina.

Strangely though, for all of the 90s nerd archetypes that found their bespectacled selves on sitcoms, Steve Urkel is the only one who thrived as a suave, pants-dropping playboy when not in the immediate presence of his costars. When the Winslows were away, Urkel would play. He’d play hard.

Let’s face it; Screech outside of Bayside High is probably the exact same guy as Screech inside Bayside High, just with a lot more baby lotion and hand-to-dong contact.

But Urkel?

At some point between oiling his six-pack and disrobing the ladies at the bar using only lyrics from a Boys 2 Men ballad, Urkel crossed the threshold into nerd-dom, inflicting ulcers on the world from 6 to 7 pm on Friday nights. He transitioned from shades to geek goggles, cranked the pitch up on his vocal chords, and presumably gave himself a very large, very permanent butt probe. (How the hell else did he walk like that all the goddamn time, people?)

And, to some extent, he made it work. For one hour every week, Steve Urkel was routinely welcomed into millions of homes—even with the very real possibility he’d break all of our expensive glassware.

That fucking table's going to snap any second. Just you wait...

To look at Steve Urkel’s track record in the post-Family Matters world is to look deep into the soul of a classically poor decision. It’s the moral of why a handsome man should never, circumstances be damned, hike his white jeans up to his shit-eating grin and talk like the puree option on a blender. During Family Matters' fragile final years, Steve Urkel was a lost dog, sniffing out anything vaguely familiar to take a crap on. Bewildered audiences found themselves staring at a nerdy apparition, the Ghost of Sitcoms Past. Urkel was on Full House. Urkel was on Step by Step. Urkel was on Meego (which was about a 9000-year-old alien...or something).

The fall of Urkle-Mania is not surprising. In fact, when looking back on those nine years, one begins to wonder how he lasted so long without being shot by his neighbor, who carried a gun as part of his job and had the temperament of a colicky baby.

Still, the fact that the handsome Steve Urkel never got the chance to unleash himself on the world the way his ball-squeezed, dork montage of a counterpart did is just wrong. The Steve Urkel whose gaze could unhook bras. The Steve Urkel who was sponsored by Plan B contraception. The Steve Urkel who…kind of looked a lot like that guy Stefan Urquelle, now that I think about it…

Like seeing Clark Kent without his glasses...and a dashing goatee.

The fact that he never got proper face time with America is an outright tragedy. An irresistibly hunky tragedy.

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