This week, we shared our conversation with Jurnee Smollett-Bell about the new WGN America show she's in, Underground. In it, she marveled about how her brother, Empire's Jussie Smollett, ended up being cast in a couple of upcoming episodes, and how great it was to "watch him work on set." It's funny though, because it's not like this is going to be the first time that the Smolletts worked together on a TV show. Hell, back in 1994, the six Smollett siblings starred in On Our Own, a TGIF sitcom that aired for one season.
Fans may first remember Jurnee best as Denise Frazer, a role she played on both Full House (as Michelle Tanner's BFF) and on four episodes of Hangin' With Mr. Cooper. After her time on the former, she linked up with her family for this multi-camera sitcom about the Jerricos, a family of seven siblings—played by Jurnee and Jussie, alongside Jack, Jazz, Jocqui, and Jojo Smollett—who lost their parents. The eldest brother Josh (portrayed by actor and comedian Ralph Louis Harris) spent the first half of the series helping the family duck the authorities, hoping to stay together as a unit instead of being split into foster care.
A shift in focus for the show (after a brief hiatus) found Josh gaining custody of his younger siblings, and added actress T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (who many might remember from her run on In Living Color) as a renter in the home the family shared. This shift had the show airing during the massively popular TGIF programming block during early 1995. Sadly, these changes didn't manifest better ratings, and ABC ended up cancelling the show in April of 1995.
Now, in an era where channels were trying to figure out multiple ways of securing audiences, On Our Own didn't feel like the move. The intro, with all of the kids dancing in front of green-screened waves? It felt like a mixture of a number of different shows, instead of really being something special. There is some kind of fondness for it, though, as a number of full episodes of On Our Own are living on YouTube. Maybe it's just the novelty of seeing such a huge group of IRL siblings together on a TV show, but still. Truth be told, it's just dope to be able to see how far Jussie and Jurnee have grown.