‘Saturday Night Live’ Reimagines Classic Sitcom With Gritty Reboot

by Allison Hambrick
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Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Saturday Night Live fired shots at the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot with a gritty remake of another popular ’90s sitcom.

The skit opens with shots of Chicago. A character with his back to the camera delivers a dramatic monologue: “Chicago. People from outside call it Chiraq, but I call it home. Around here, ain’t not good news on the newspaper’s page. Only advantage I’ve got–my mind. That don’t count for much in these streets because out here, you’ve got to make a name for yourself.”

The camera pans over to reveal a mailbox with “URKEL” on it. That’s right, the next classic show getting a dark reboot is Family Matters. The original show starred Jaleel White as the dorky Steve Urkel. Also starring Reginald VelJohnson and Kellie Shanygne Williams, it ran from 1989 to 1998. Tonally, it has more in common with Full House, so turning it into a heavy drama would yield… interesting results.

The SNL spoof continues with the voice over explaining the series has “the goofy characters you loved in the ’90s with absolutely none of the fun or charm.” It includes a few familiar callbacks with Steve bringing Laura Winslow flowers, only for her father Carl to cut him off. The skit really shines, however, when it plays up the absurdity of an R-rated Urkel.

Updating the character with a tragic backstory, Urkel’s father is dead, and his mother is a drunk. As Laura’s neighbor, he witnesses her hooking up with another guy. After destroying his latest invention, Urkel confronts him. When he disrespects Laura, Urkel attacks him, punctuating each blow with his iconic catchphrase: “did I do that?”

He is interrupted by Carl, who catches him pulling out a gun. A series of fake reviews flash up on the screen, with Rolling Stone saying “Family Matters is #1 worst choice for a sitcom to modernize like this.” The ending shot teases a heart to heart between Urkel and Carl. The latter assures Steve that they are his family and “family f—— matters.”

Saturday Night Live Roasts Bel-Air

While the SNL sketch is funny regardless, it’s especially funny considering its inspiration. Recently, Peacock released a trailer for Bel-Air, which is a serious take on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Despite being produced by original star Will Smith, the trailer failed to impress fans. After all, the original show was a comedy.

Even so, the series was no stranger to serious topics. Notably, one scene involving Smith talking to Uncle Phil about his father while breaking down into tears. This moment remains popular with fans of the series because it was so powerfully acted. Perhaps that’s what inspired the show’s creators to take a serious approach to the reboot.

Whether or not fans want it, Bel-Air is coming in 2022. Who knows? Maybe it will recapture the emotions behind the iconic scene well enough to win audiences over.

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