I have decided to go back in time to discuss the man who quite possibly shaped my ideal guy, Steven Q. Urkel. Yes, Steve Urkel is a sexy piece of genius that his target of desire, Laura Winslow, never deserved.
This may very well be my last testament as I will happily die on this hill.
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The late ‘80s introduced audiences to Steven Quincy Urkel on the ABC family sitcom Family Matters. Serving nerd trope realness for the gods, Steve waltzes into our homes and lives wearing coke-bottle glasses, braces, suspenders for high-water pants, oxford shoes, and sweaters with a pocket protector full of pens. He has a disturbing posture bent backward, and a high-pitched voice making him prime for not being taken seriously despite his above-average IQ. He has an interest in bugs, listens to Polka music, is versed in all things science, and is a clutz who constantly wreaks havoc on his next-door neighbors, the Winslows.
He’s mostly tolerated by the Winslows due to his parents’ unusual lack of parental guidance, but mostly due to his undying love for the eldest Winslow daughter (who eventually becomes the only Winslow daughter), Laura.
Since kindergarten, Steve has been in love with Laura, and the whole time, she’s loathed him. However, over the years this love-hate relationship morphed into a friendship in which Laura is occasionally reminded that Steve is a nerd with a heart of pure gold — nay, platinum. And no matter how geeky or weird he is, he always has her and her family’s interest at heart.
While Laura may not have found Steve to be the man of her dreams, I absolutely did and it shouldn’t be hard to see why. Steve was the quintessential “nice guy” who always finished last with the ladies, though he was possibly the only guy worthy of anyone’s time.
Let’s take into consideration several things about him: He never followed the popular fads (unless coaxed into it) and walked to the beat of his own drum, making him a total individual. His intelligence exceeded geniuses of our time creating things like a Robo-version of himself, gene-altering elixirs, cloning machines, and teleportation devices. Steve was picked on at school purely for being different, smart and slightly uncoordinated, and through it all, never really caved in to the peer pressure of acting like everyone else.
“Family Matters” Jaleel White as Steve Urkel Courtesy of ABC 1990 Mario Casilli/ IMDB
In addition to intellectual allure, Steve was also kind, sweet, and unabashedly caring. There were countless times where Steve used his savvy and know-how to either give Laura something she wanted or help her out of a sticky situation, like the time he got Johnny Gill to serenade her when she couldn’t get tickets to his sold-out concert, or the time he went to the strip club Le Buff and posed as a dancer to keep Laura from being busted by her mom, aunt, and grandma (who were also there for a great time). And we absolutely can’t forget how Steve was able to isolate the “cool gene” in his DNA and create the man of Laura’s dreams, Stefan Urquelle. The fact that he would alter who he was down to a molecular level showed just how dedicated he was to being with her, and he was often rebuffed by Laura when he would revert back to his true nature.
And the latter brings me to my point: Laura was not deserving of Steve’s hotness. Was he problematic in his incessant pursuit of Laura’s affection after she clearly said no at his every advance? Of course. In today’s world, he would be “canceled” by tons of people; however, back in the ’80s-’90s sitcom world, his inability to accept “no” was nothing more than fodder for comic relief, as Steve’s adoration never turned into something intentionally harmful or dangerous to Laura and her family. Steve, though a bit heavy-handed with his affection, did know how to give space to Laura and her unrequited love. When the Winslows were tired of his shenanigans, a simple “Go home, Steve” typically sent him packing. And whenever Laura began dating someone who’d actually treat her the way she deserved, he’d do his best not to meddle in her affairs for the sake of her happiness.
Steve loved Laura for who she was — shallow flaws and all — while she was only interested in him after he ditched his glasses and became “cool.” Let’s face it: Steve was a dreamboat whether anyone cared to admit it. Sure, later on in the series, their cohabitation in the Winslow house led to sparks finally flying between the two, but for me, that was too little too late.
Much like his true equal, Myra Monkhouse, I adored Steve for the zany, geeky, basketball-playing, brainiac romantic he was. I was also a different kind of girl growing up and so seeing Steve, an intelligent young man of color with a gracious attitude absolutely helped mold my type of guy (to this day, I fall for a smile full of braces). If Steve were a real guy, I wouldn’t think twice about dating him and I’d totally shun the woman (looking at you, Laura), who saw him as anything other than a real man.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.