My Wife & Kids is an American sitcom that ran on ABC from March 28, 2001 to May 17, 2005. The series was produced by Touchstone Television. It starred Damon Wayans as Michael Kyle, the patriarch of a semi-dysfunctional upper middle class African-American family who rules his household with a unique and distinct parenting style. As he teaches his three children some of life's lessons, he does so with his own brand of humor. Wayans and veteran television writer/producer Don Reo co-created and co-produced the series.
This section describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style
. (June 2018)
- Michael Richard Kyle, Sr. (Damon Wayans) - Michael is a father of three children and the patriarch of the family. He has been married to Janet Marie "Jay" Kyle since age 16, as a result of having gotten her pregnant with their first child Michael Kyle Jr. Michael owns an eponymous trucking business that he built from the ground up. He often exhibits a very interesting sense of humor, and occasionally does impressions of famous people such as Bill Cosby and Don King. Mainly teaches his kids valuable lessons, using the method of what he refers to as "Michael Kyle Signature Moments", which often involve trickery (e.g., taking the family car in order to make Claire think that it was stolen after he catches Claire driving it without permission, having him and Jay make Junior think he is hallucinating after they discover he had smoked marijuana, etc.), in order to teach his kids a lesson; Kady is the only one of Michael's children who gets the least in trouble. He also shows some impatience with not getting to a particular place on time, as seen in the season two episode "Get Out". A running gag in the third and fourth seasons involved Michael saying; "Eh, no", in a nasal voice as a catchphrase, sometimes used by other characters, with different variations of this phrase used. Many jokes poking fun at Michael's baldness were also made during the show's run. As the series progressed, Michael became involved in increasingly outlandish situations, and often sought the advice of Kady's boyfriend Franklin Mumford when getting into a tight situation; also around this time Michael often took the suggestion by Jay that he cannot do something as a challenge, making a mess of the situation in the process. Michael is often harsh on Junior as he tries to prepare him for adulthood, showing little to no respect for him (mainly because of his stupidity and immaturity), and often mocks him. Despite this, Michael is always there to support Junior when he needs him.
- Janet Marie "Jay" Kyle (Tisha Campbell-Martin) - Janet, usually referred to by her nickname "Jay", is the mother of three children. Jay's role in the series is typically to be the voice of reason for the family, including Michael; for example, when Michael evicted Junior from the house in season three's "Jr.'s Risky Business" after catching him and his girlfriend Vanessa in Jay and Michael's bed after having sex, she is the one who tries to have Michael to rethink his decision. During the series, Jay's maiden name is contradicted as in the season two episode "Make Over", in which a frumpy-feeling Jay gets a new look, Campbell did not appear in 2 episodes due to her pregnancy. She returned in the episode "Thru Thick and Thin" and seemed to have brought back some weight much to avoid Michael. Her maiden name is said to be Thomas (an earlier episode stated her maiden name as Johnson, by Michael). In the pilot, Jay gets a job at a stock brokerage firm, much to Michael's chagrin, a job which she is subsequently fired from in the season two episode "Jay Gets Fired". In the fourth and fifth seasons, a running gag featured Jay often uttering a devilish laugh when she has a plan or when she thinks something is funny. When the other Kyles witness her laughing at something that's really not funny, they sometimes gave her a "not funny" gesture to make her stop.
- Michael Richard "Junior" Kyle Jr. (George O. Gore II) - Junior is the only son and first child of Michael and Jay Kyle; initially, Junior was depicted as being simply an underachieving student and in the first season, his ascent into puberty was a recurring theme (ex., in season one's "Breaking Up and Breaking It", Junior locks himself in the bathroom repeatedly, bringing along some unusual reading material like Field & Stream (though not mentioned it is possible he was hiding porn magazines in them, though the hidden magazines are never shown). While in the bathroom, Junior suffers a muscle spasm to his "joystick" while masturbating, much to his embarrassment when he is told this by the doctor treating him, when he ends up in the hospital. One of his greatest ambitions in the early seasons was to lose his virginity, which after a few failed attempts, does occur in the season three premiere "The Kyles Go to Hawaii"; later on in "Jr.'s Risky Business" from the same season, he and his girlfriend Vanessa Scott have sex for the first time--in Michael and Jay's bed--which gets Junior evicted from his bedroom and the Kyle house, though after some prodding by Jay to get him to change his mind, Michael allows Junior to live in the house again but he winds up living in a makeshift bedroom in the garage (Michael turned Junior's old room into a personal room for himself). Junior's physical, personal and mental gaffes/traits served an reoccurring jokes in the show. From season two on, the size of Junior's head becomes the subject of laughter for the family and the viewing audience. Tisha Campbell-Martin's character Gina Waters was the subject of many "big-head" jokes on her previous sitcom Martin. In the season 3 episode, "Sister Story", Michael's sister says Junior has his mother's head. From season three onward, Junior is usually portrayed as an imbecile (in the season two episode "Junior Kyle, Boy Genius", in which his idiocy first becomes a major plot point, Junior loses points on his actual SAT exam, which was mistakenly switched with that of an unrelated higher-scoring classmate named Michelle Kyle, by misspelling his name as 'Junyor' instead of 'Junior'). Other examples of Junior's less-than-intelligent moments include mispronouncing words such as dumb, psychology and Hors d'oeuvres as "dum-bee", "pizzi-chology" and "Horse de ovaries" respectively. His low intelligence is on full display when Michael suggests that Junior name his baby after him, Junior wondered out loud, "Why would I name it 'Dad'?" Michael's impatience with Junior's lack of intelligence often got him slapped on the back of the head, though occasionally other family members did this to him as well. Despite this, he does display some savant-like characteristics. For example, Junior knows that the fact that humans having opposable thumbs separates the human species from animals. He also successfully built a jungle gym for Kady (though he accidentally got his head stuck between the bars after it was completed) and is very talented when it comes to drawing, This aspect of Junior's character was highlighted heavily when they coordinated with ABC to develop an animated series. It was a parody of the series. Even though Michael's negotiations with ABC executives backfire, it ends up as a series of webisodes. In the season three episode "Graduation", Junior reveals to Michael and Jay that he and his girlfriend Vanessa were going to become teenage parents, much like what occurred with Michael and Jay when they were 16 years old. Their child, a boy named Michael Richard Kyle III (or Junior, Jr.), was born in the season four episode "The Baby". Junior is heavily involved in comic books and is also fluent in Klingon Language.
- Claire Marie Kyle (Jazz Raycole in Season 1; Jennifer Freeman Seasons 2-5) - Claire is the middle child of Michael and Janet Kyle. In the first season, Claire was a sweet, friendly pre-teen who went through typical growing pains, such as having her first crush, wanting her first bra, and feeling embarrassed or irritated by her parents. After Jennifer Freeman took over the role in the series' second season, Claire was rapidly aged from 12 to 14, and her personality noticeably changed. She is depicted as an innocent, naïve young girl who behaves in a superficial and vain way, though she is never vicious or intentionally mean. In the season two episode "Letting Go", Claire begins dating Tony Jeffers, whom with the exception of a short-lived breakup in the season three episode "Claire's New Boyfriend" after Michael says that he approves of Tony leading Claire to briefly date a boy nicknamed "1040-EZ", she remains with Tony for the rest of the series. The season three episode "A Samba Story" began a running gag which involved Claire running into things, falling down stairs, or generally being ditsy. In season three's "Here Comes Da Judge", Claire becomes a vegetarian at Tony's urging, although this isn't referenced in further episodes. Claire's middle name was revealed to be Marie (after her mother) in the episode "He Said, She Said."
- Kady Melissa Jenny Spilken Kyle (Parker McKenna Posey) - The younger daughter and youngest overall of the Kyle children, Kady is the precocious one, commonly referred to as "the cute one". In season one's "Making the Grade", Kady is shown to be able to speak multiple languages as the then 5-year-old sings Itsy Bitsy Spider in Spanish and Swahili as well as English. At times, Kady aspired to be like Claire, doing all sorts of things like wanting to spend time with her at the mall. Although portrayed as sweet and polite, she can also be quite cunning and mischievous (like spitting in Junior's drink when he is being rude to her or letting Claire be falsely accused of stealing nail polish from a department store when Kady was the one who took it.) In season three, Kady tries to hang on to her status as the baby of the family by acting younger than her age, until Michael and Jay explain to her in the episode "Blackout" that it is actually more irritating than cute. That same season, she begins "dating" child prodigy Franklin Mumford. In the earlier seasons, Kady's doll Little Pippy made minor appearances in several episodes.
- Franklin Aloysius Mumford (Noah Gray-Cabey; seasons 4-5; recurring, season 3) - Franklin is Kady's playmate and "boyfriend", first introduced in season three's "Jay the Artist". Franklin is a child prodigy, who is very skilled at playing the piano, which usually amazes first-time listeners, and is generally very intelligent, so much so that he had accomplished attending and graduating from Harvard University by age 7. Franklin has very strong feelings for Kady and sees her as his everything. He is also good friends with Michael, despite not being equals. He loves Kady with all of his heart and often says poetic comments to Kady, which often led Jay to slap Michael across the shoulder asking him, "Why can't you be more like Franklin?". Running gags involving Franklin include him uttering, "Isn't she great?", "Anyhoo", or "However", in a drawn-out tone when trying to change the subject or when he sees that he is talking with someone less-than-intelligent. This segue was also used by the other Kyle family members, usually Michael, on occasion. Franklin has a younger sister named Aretha (Jamia Simone Nash), who is a very good singer, although Franklin believes that Kady is a better one. Michael tells him in season three's "Sharon's Picture" that because he is in love with Kady, and Aretha is just his sister, he is certainly going to find anything that Kady does to be superior to his annoying little sister. Because he is a genius and has already graduated from Harvard, Franklin was able to coach Michael and Junior on how to deliver Junior's fiancée Vanessa's baby because of his vast medical knowledge. Franklin never seemed to have trouble fitting in with other children his own age but the main focus with Franklin was the back and forth of advice shared between Michael and Franklin.
- Vanessa Scott-Kyle (Meagan Good; recurring, season 3; Brooklyn Sudano; seasons 4-5) - Vanessa is Junior's girlfriend, who was first introduced in the season three episode "Jr.'s Risky Business", and whom Junior sees as "the greatest girl in the world", though a disapproving Jay believed Vanessa had an agenda with Junior. At the end of the first part of the two-part episode, Junior and Vanessa decide to make love for the first time, a decision which gets Junior evicted from the house by Michael after he and Jay, who were coming home from watching an opera performance, catch the teen couple in their bed. Vanessa explains to Jay that she is truly in love with Junior. Later in the third-season finale "Graduation", she and Junior break the news to Michael and Jay that Vanessa is pregnant, and that they are going to become teenage parents, like Michael and Jay did when they were 16; their child, Junior Junior, was born in the season four episode "The Baby". In the season five episode "The Wedding", she became Junior's wife.
- Tony Jeffers (Andrew McFarlane; seasons 2-5) - Tony is Claire's boyfriend for the majority of the show's run. In season two's "Letting Go", he was depicted as not being very bright, sexually inactive because of his religious beliefs, though his subsequent appearances depict him as a nice, Christian teenager, though Michael often thought that Tony had an agenda that he is really using this as a ruse to try to trick Claire into having sex with him; Tony's actual demeanor and what Michael thought Tony was really like had Michael refer to him in the season two episode "Papa Said Knock You Out" as a "religious Eddie Haskell"; although Tony and Claire announce to Michael and Jay that they were thinking about having sex in the season three episode "The Big Bang Theory" (which does not happen as Tony saw that a Bible that was in a drawer in the hotel room they were going to lose their virginity in was a sign from God, not knowing that all hotels have a copy of the Bible), Michael's beliefs about Tony were never the case. Tony often sought ways to prove his devotion to purity and to God using extreme measures, such as fasting for eight days and wearing a handmade religious hat to get the approval of God (which backfires). Whenever Claire is breaking up with him or he falsely thinks she has broken up with him, he often wails. In season three's "Here Come Da Judge", it is revealed that his real first name is Honest and Tony is his middle name. In the Season One episode, "Breaking Up and Breaking It", Andrew McFarlane, the actor who played "Tony", also played the role of "Roger", another boy with a crush on Claire.
- Jasmine and Calvin Scott (Ella Joyce and Lester Speight; seasons 4-5) are Vanessa's money-seeking parents. Calvin is feared by the Kyles because he is rather big, superhumanly strong, and it is shown that he eats a lot and even eats live meat, but Calvin is a childish, dimwitted, crybaby on the inside married to Jasmine, Calvin's disapproving and wealth-seeking wife. While Calvin's stupidity and immaturity annoys everyone else, Jasmine caters to it, and often treats him like a child.
- Dr. William Parks Klieger (Phil Reeves; seasons 1-2) - Jay and Michael's marriage therapist.
- Erica Washington (RuDee Sade; seasons 1-2) - Claire's friend.
- Shante Bre (Cara Mia Wayans; seasons 1-2) - Claire's friend.
- John (Damon Wayans Jr.; seasons 2-4) - Junior's silly best friend.
- Rachel McNamara (Liliana Mumy; seasons 2-4) - Kady's classmates and friend, who hates Michael.
- Melissa (Jessica Sara; seasons 2-3) - Kady's classmates and friend.
- R.J. (DeRay Davis; seasons 2-4) - an employee of Michael.
- Brian (Brian Holtzman; seasons 3-4) - an employee of Michael.
- Todd (Todd Lynn; seasons 3-4) - an employee of Michael.
- Larry (Sean Whalen; season 4) - an employee of Michael and Junior's friend.
Reruns aired in the United States on various local stations, primarily Fox, CW, and MyNetworkTV affiliates, from September 2005 to September 2006. ABC Family began airing My Wife and Kids in high definition on September 1, 2008; the episodes aired by ABC Family are the original versions aired on ABC, though like syndication airings, closed captioning sponsorship tags appear before the final act/scene of each episode. The series no longer airs on ABC Family, as of January 2012. As Of October 2014 The series airs on MTV2 along with Fresh Prince of Bel Air as part of throwblock.
The series also began airing on Nick at Nite on August 30, 2010, though the blooper reels at the end of nearly every episode of the first three seasons and a small few from season four are omitted and replaced with marginalized credits. Thus far, the only episode of the series that has yet to be broadcast by Nick at Nite is the season three two-parter "Jr.'s Risky Business". The premiere episodes of seasons two and three ("Mom's Away" and "The Kyle's Go to Hawaii", respectively) have been relegated to special airings and are also not aired as part of the network's regular cycle of the series. Since October 3, 2011, the show also airs on BET (a sister network to Nick at Nite through parent company ViacomCBS); unlike the Nick at Nite and ABC Family airings, BET broadcasts episodes of the series in a letterboxed format. The series then aired in reruns on Centric on October 12, 2011. In Late 2018, the series reruns on Aspire and Fuse.
In the United Kingdom, reruns of the series were aired on Channel One (formally known as Virgin1) until its closure on February 1, 2011. Sister channel Living also used to air the show in 2001. The show first aired on Trouble and then BBC Two. Currently reruns of the series are on 5Star and Comedy Central.
In May 2013, the series started on Viva. On March 26, 2012, ABC Spark in Canada started broadcasting re-runs.
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has released the first two seasons of My Wife and Kids on DVD in Region 1.
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