Jo Marie Payton Says She'll Do a 'Family Matters' Reboot If Judy Winslow Returns
By Mekishana Pierre
Getty Images / Craig Sjodin
Jo Marie Payton would love to join the rest of her cast in a Family Matters revival, but she has one condition if something ever gets off the ground -- her youngest TV child, Judy Winslow, must be written back in.
At the 90s Con in Hartford, Connecticut, over the weekend, Payton reunited with her former co-stars, Reginald VelJohnson (Carl Winslow), Darius McCrary (Eddie Winslow) and Kellie Williams (Laura Winslow). In a video posted by Williams' media company, Dream Merchant Media Entertainment, LLC, the cast was asked whether they would consider reviving their iconic characters from the hit series, whether in a reboot or a revival. Payton, who played the stern but loving TV matriarch Harriette Winslow, noted that while a Bel Air-esque reboot wouldn't be in the cards for the cast, they would be happy to return to their roots as a sitcom.
But, she said that she would only do it if Judy Winslow, the family's youngest child played by Jaimee Foxworth who mysteriously disappeared in the fourth season, was written back into the show.
Revealing that she was "personally hurt" by the creative decision, she told fans at the convention, "Don’t think for a minute that we did not go in."
"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," Payton, 71, recalled. "If you had taken away my oldest child, we could have always come up with [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,'" she added. "So for me, that's one of the other things that I [wouldn't be] excited about, going back into it."
Noting that "the worst feeling in the world for a parent is not to know where your child is," Payton asserted that the only way she'd play Harriette again, is if "the very first episode has to be that [Judy] comes down those stairs."
Foxworth reposted the clip of Payton advocating for her return to her Instagram page, captioning the post, "My RIDAH!"
Family Matters cemented itself as one of the most popular sitcoms of the time, running for nine seasons from 1989 to 1998. A spinoff of Perfect Strangers, the series followed the Winslow family, a middle-class Black family living in Chicago, Illinois, and their nerdy neighbor, Steve Urkel (Jaleel White). White's Urkel was originally written to appear as a one-time character but quickly became the show's breakout character, and eventually, the main character.
"You need to contact Bob Boyett and Netflix and tell them," Williams told fans of reviving the series.
"The possibilities are endless today," added McCrary. "You guys have so much more power in your hands than you did. There was three networks, four networks -- NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Now there are so many platforms … you guys can start an online campaign. Get on Facebook, talk, share … if you guys had this much power in your hands, Judy would have never got left at the mall."