So, I know I am totally dating myself, but I loved, and continue to love the television show, Family Matters! As each new season comes out on DVD, I collect, I watch, I re-watch, and then I re-watch again. Steve Urkel’s relentless chase of Laura Winslow’s affections reminds me of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, but something about his pursuit of her heart never gets old. Not to mention the show is hilarious!
Recently, we purchased season four, and I have already watched each DVD multiple times. Viewing it now as a married woman, I find Steve’s attempts to win Laura’s heart more endearing than I used to.
Yes, he was annoying, and none of us would have wanted him as a neighbor; but, one truth remained throughout the entire series – Steve loved Laura. He didn’t just think she was cute. He wasn’t trying to boost his reputation by being seen with her. He was not infatuated with her. He loved her and he proved it repeatedly. Married women everywhere would love even a portion of the affection and devotion he showed to Laura – despite her desperate attempts to get away from him.
Even though I know it is fiction, and that such relentless suitors are quite uncommon, I still love to watch Steve tirelessly pour himself into loving the lovely Laura Winslow; and, at some level, I think we can learn from his adorably nerdy example. ~smile~
He Never Quit Showering Her with Affection.
In episode after episode, we see Steve waltz into the Winslow home (typically uninvited) to ask Laura out on a date, to compliment something about her, to give her a gift, or to simply be near her. He also almost always causes some kind of disaster (e.g., he breaks something, electrocutes someone, glues something together, blows something up, etc.), but nobody makes clumsy as funny as Steven Q. Urkel. No matter how many times Laura turned him down, put him down, or ran him off, he still chose to shower her with affection. Although his persistence drove her crazy for years, it is no wonder that he eventually won her heart by the end of the series.
He Protected Her Reputation.
Whenever anyone attempted to steal Laura’s good name, Steve jumped in to save the day! Perhaps the most memorable time was when Laura’s boyfriend, Ted, bragged to his friends that he had scored on their last date. Steve defended her promptly, and was thus crammed into a locker (something that is so horrible in reality, and yet so funny in a sit-com). When Laura rescued him hours later, he gently broke the news that Ted was spreading gossip about her, which leads me to my next point…
He Told Her the Truth – Even When it Angered Her.
Even though he risked losing Laura’s friendship, Steve cared about her too much to keep her in the dark. He knew she was pure, and wanted her to realize that they guy she was dating was harming her reputation. She became defensive, of course, but later realized that he was only being a good friend. He even helped concoct a plan to get Ted to confess. After years of being rejected, Steve continued to be a faithful friend to the girl he loved.
He Did not Pout and Get Angry with Her for Dating Other Guys.
He sometimes questioned her romantic choices in theatrical ways, but he did not get angry or pout when she dated someone else. Sometimes, he looked as though his heart was splitting down the middle; but, he always treated Laura with respect no matter who she was seeing at the time.
It was clear that his love for her was not dependent on her response to his displays of amour. He was devoted to her. Devotion goes far beyond feelings! Today, we have a lot of married couples who feel something for each other; yet, they lack deep, unwavering devotion.
He Did His Dead Level Best to Help Her When She Needed Him.
When she set the kitchen on fire, he was there to put it out. When she started an initiative to put a Black History course into the school curriculum, he was there to spread the word. When she ran for school president, he was her most faithful supporter. When she overslept and missed her bus to a cheerleading competition, he drove her. When she needed him, he rose to the occasion. He may have broken some furniture while he was helping her, but his heart was in the right place. ~smile~
He Put Her Happiness Above His.
One of the sweetest episodes was when Laura was nominated for homecoming queen. She wanted Ted to ask her to the dance, so Steve approached Ted and encouraged him to ask her. Surprised that Steve would help Laura get together with another guy, he asked, “Urkel, why are you doing this? I mean, everybody knows you’re crazy about Laura.” Steve responded, “But Laura wants to go with you, and all I care about is her happiness.”
While they were dancing, Ted told Laura that Steve was the one who encouraged him to ask her out. She was stunned, and looked as though a little ice was melting from around her heart. Later, after she was crowned homecoming queen, she chose to dance the queen’s dance with Steve because he had always treated her like a queen. <sniff, sniff>
He Was Not Easily Discouraged.
“You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.” – Dr. Jerry Falwell
By most people’s standards, Steve was a little insane. That is, he tried the same thing over and over again expecting change. However, other people would consider him persistent and not easily discouraged. When Laura turned him down, he bounced right back and asked her again. By age sixteen, he had already asked her out 1,000 times. ~smile~ He continued to love her, be there for her, and befriend her; and, nine seasons later, his hard work finally paid off. ~wink~
He Was Willing to Step Aside for a “Better” Man.
At the end of the series, Laura received two proposals – one from Steve and one from Stephan. Stephan was, for all intents and purposes, the perfect man. He was cool. He was a model. He was well-to-do. And then there was Steve. He was clumsy, nerdy, and always tinkering around with new inventions; but, he loved Laura, and had proven his devotion to her since kindergarten.
When Steve realized that Stephan had also proposed marriage to Laura, he packed up to leave the country. He thought she could have a great life with Stephan, and he didn’t want to hold her back. Even though his heart was broken, he wanted her to be happy.
But, after the dust settled, Laura realized that she could not imagine her life without Steve. He had finally won her heart. His years of actively loving her had paid off, and the love of his life finally loved him back.
Yes, Family Matters is just a sit-com… and no, we can’t expect our love stories to include someone groveling after us for fifteen years; however, we can learn a lot about how to treat our significant others by watching Steve interact with Laura. He was kind. He complimented her frequently. He never treated her like an inconvenience. He appreciated her intelligence. He was not afraid to look foolish for her. He defended her. He adored her. He treated her well despite how she treated him. And like Laura’s mom told her once when Steve was driving her crazy, “It’s a wonderful thing when somebody loves you that much.”
If you are a fellow Family Matters’ fan, wax-nostalgic and order seasons one through four now. See what Steven Q. Urkel can teach you about how to love your sweetheart better!
What television character taught you the most about true love?