My Wife & Kids is an American television show that ran on ABC from March 28, 2001 until May 17, 2005. Produced by Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios), it starred Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell-Martin, and centers on the character of Michael Kyle, a loving husband and modern-day patriarch 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 executive produced the series.
The series revolves around the experiences of a man named Michael Kyle and his family who live in Stamford, Connecticut. After impregnating his wife Jay as a teenager, Michael has grown paranoid of his children eventually spoiling their own virginity, but aside from these concerns he possesses a number of odd, often irritating eccentricities that he virtually never avoids concealing regardless of the severity of the situation. Among his children are Michael Kyle, Jr. (nicknamed "Junior"), Michael's dimwitted eldest son; Claire, his vain, conceited teenage daughter; and Kady, his loveably endearing youngest daughter. Later on in the series, Michael's nightmares come true when Junior impregnates his girlfriend Vanessa, resulting in the addition of a wife and son for Junior in the cast of characters in the series.
One interesting note about the series is that, unusual for a sitcom of the show's length, at no point during My Wife and Kids' five-season run did the series have an episode centering on a major holiday (e.g., Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.). This could possibly be due to Wayans growing up as a Jehovah's Witness. There also is no proper opening theme song, although the series did have two closing themes (one of which was also used at the very beginning of certain episodes during the first season) throughout its run.
Michael desperately wants to have sex with his wife, but Jay fears that having sex would bring about another pregnancy and asks that Michael undergo a vasectomy. Although he has second thoughts about the procedure, his need to have sex with Jay overcomes his fears. Meanwhile, Tony asks Claire to make him a hat so that he can attract the attention of God, but his hat is hit by lightning as he dances in the middle of the forest. In order to avoid having the operation, Michael lies about having had a vasectomy, but Jay is infuriated when she finds out. Ultimately, Michael goes to have the vasectomy done for real, but at the very end of the episode Jay reveals that she's already pregnant.
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 "Jay" Kyle since age 17, 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. He commonly 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 (born Johnson) (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 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, himself served as a recurring gag as many of his physical, personal and mental traits are mined for comedy on the show. From season two onwards, the size of Junior's head becomes the subject of jokes by the family (ironically, Tisha Campbell-Martin's character Jay Kyle was the subject of many "big-head" jokes on her previous sitcom Martin, perhaps suggesting Jr. inherited it from his mother. In the season 3 episode "Sister Story", Michael's sister says Jr. 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 his mispronouncing words such as dumb, psychology and Hors d'œuvres as "dum-bee", "pizzi-chology" and "Horse de ovaries" respectively, his ability to misinterpret certain comments (such as Michael suggesting that he should name his baby after him once he is born, asking him "why would I name it 'Dad'?") and mistakenly thinking that salmonella is the name of a woman. 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, as he knew that the fact that humans have an opposable thumb separates the human species from animals, he was able to successfully build a jungle gym for Kady (though he accidentally got his head stuck between the bars after it was completed) and Junior has a talent for drawing, which catches the interest of ABC to develop an animated series that itself is a parody of the series (though Michael's negotiation tactics with ABC executives backfire, but it ends up getting a life as 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 17 years old; their child, a boy named Michael Richard Kyle III (or Junior, Jr.), was born in the season four episode "The Baby". He 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 went through the typical growing pains of a pre-teen, 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, eventually behaving in a superficial and vain way, while she is never vicious or intentionally mean, she became depicted rather as an innocent and naive young woman. 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. Starting with the season three episode "A Samba Story", a running gag involving Claire running into things, falling down stairs or generally being ditsy. In season three's "Here Comes Da Judge", Claire, at the inducing of Tony, becomes a vegetarian, although this is not referenced in future episodes. Claire's middle name was revealed to be Marie (after her mother) in the episode "He Said, She Said."
Kady Jay Kyle (Parker McKenna Posey) – The youngest daughter and youngest child overall of the Kyle children, Kady is the precocious one out of the kids, and is 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 Kady is very cute and portrayed as nice and polite, she can also be quite cunning and mischievous (e.x., 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 in fact, 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, which 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 was shown to own a doll named Little Pippy that made a few minor appearances in several episodes.
Franklin Aloyisious 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 before the age of 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, which has also been used by the other Kyle family members, usually Michael, on occasion. Franklin has a younger sister named Aretha (Jamia Simone Nash), who herself is an impressive singer; Frankin however does not think Aretha is a good singer however, thinking Kady is a better singer, which Michael tells him in season three's "Sharon's Picture" is because he is in love with Kady and Aretha is just his sister. It is mentioned that, unusual for someone Franklin's age, he is a certified contractor and was able to coach Michael and Junior how to deliver Junior's fiancee Vanessa's baby due to his medical knowledge. However, Franklin did find it hard to fit in with other children his age and even seeks advice from Michael, who is usually the one who seeks advice from Franklin whenever Michael gets himself in a tight situation, on how to act more like a normal kid in the season four episode "Junior Sells His Car".
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 17; their child, a boy named Michael Richard Kyle III (or Junior, Jr.) was born in the season four episode "The Baby". In the season five episode "The Wedding", she became Junior's wife.
Honest 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) are Vanessa's money-seeking parents. Calvin is feared by the Kyles because he is rather big and it is shown that he 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.
Katt Williams – Bobby Shaw, a former classmate and rival of Michael and also Jay's first kiss (season 5)
Sean Whalen – Larry, nerdy employee of Michael (season 4)
Lauren Tom – Annie Hoo, owner of a local Chinese restaurant who goes into competition with Jay. She, her husband, and the Kyles later decide to try and shut down an Italian restaurant recently built down the street. (season 5)
Liliana Mumy – Rachel, one of Kady's classmates who hates Michael. (seasons 3-5)
DeRay Davis – R.J., an employee at Michael's trucking business. (seasons 2-4)
Jamia Simone Nash – Aretha Mumford, Franklin's younger sister. Franklin thinks that she is tone deaf when she really has a good singing voice.
Larry Miller – Stuart Tyler, one of Michael's nemesis for several episodes in season two.
Marlene Forte – Rosa Lopez, the Kyles' Nanny/Housekeeper for several episodes in season one.
Currently, Disney–ABC Domestic Television handles the U.S. distribution rights to My Wife and Kids, while Disney–ABC International Television handles syndication rights outside the United States. For U.S. cable and international syndication, all 122 episodes of the series are broadcast in high definition, this is despite the fact that the thirteen episodes that comprised the first season were originally broadcast in 4:3standard definition (it would not be until September 2001, as the series was entering its second season, before ABC began carrying its scripted primetime series in HD); for the first season episodes, Disney-ABC had previously cropped images on the sides restored, using the 35mm film source, to use the entire 16:9 frame.
Reruns aired in the United States on various local stations, primarily Fox, CW, and MyNetworkTV affiliates, from September 2005 to August 2011. 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.
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 Viacom); 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 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, and in early 2012 the show is set to return to Living which is now known as Sky Living.
In May 2013, the series started on Viva. On March 26, 2012, ABC Spark in Canada started broadcasting re-runs.