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Series / My Wife and Kids

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Dom Com that aired on ABC, starring Damon Wayans. The show is about Michael Kyle and, well... his wife and kids.

This show provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother:
    • Jay, and becomes an Absurdly Youthful Grandmother later on in the series.
    • Tisha Campbell-Martin is about 13 years older than the actor who played her eldest child, but then it was a Teen Pregnancy, even if the age gap was larger by about 5 years.
  • The Ace:
    • Tony. He saved children from a burning orphanage after his first date with Claire.
    • Franklin, being the Child Prodigy variety of Creator's Pet.
  • Achievements in Ignorance:
    • When Junior's test papers come back with a perfect score he starts acting genuinely smarter. Later in the episode it's cleared up he didn't even get his own name correct on the paper, but the paper he helped Claire with was still an A+ and the climbing frame he put together himself was still built perfectly.
    • When Michael tells Junior that his infant son makes him smarter it actually seems to work, to the degree that Michael can turn his son's intelligence on and off mid-sentence by taking his hand off the baby's head.
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  • An Aesop: One episode introduces a friend of Michael's (played by Mos Def) who has become paraplegic since the last time they saw each other. Michael acts like he's not capable of taking care of himself, and eventually his friend calls him on his behavior and says that he wants to be treated the same as everyone else and not like he's half a man.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Mike and Jay attended an opera, and mainly got a few jokes about a rich old man and his young girlfriend wearing a black fur wrap. Mike also tricked Jay into leaving early, and they find Junior in the middle of losing his virginity.
  • Backhanded Apology: From "They Call Me El Foosay," when Michael and Jay tell Junior to apologize to Vanessa for being an obnoxious winner:
    Junior: I'm so sorry that I beatcha like an old rug! LOOPALINDA! I'm gonna tell the baby, he'll never respect you!
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  • Benevolent Boss: Michael is friends with the workers at his shipping company at treats them kindly, but still reminds them that he's the boss.
  • Big Brother Instinct: One episode featured Junior befriending a group of jerkasses who take advantage of him and pick on him. Because they're cool, Junior refuses to stand up to them...until they started hitting on his younger sister.
  • Big Eater: Calvin almost ate all the food that a Chinese restaurant had.
    • Jay's gluttony is also a running gag.
  • Black and Nerdy: Franklin, who takes the Child Prodigy trope Up to Eleven.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Kady. In the final seasons, as she grows older and more clever, she starts showing signs of being a Manipulative Bastard, just like her dad.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Claire. Her tantrums get progressively more intense and loud due to Flanderization, though a few episodes hint it may be because she is averting No Periods, Period.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Michael and Jay, or Junior and Vanessa constantly fight, but they always go back to being madly in love by the episode's end.
  • But Not Too Black: Averted by Claire's original actress.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Junior is the butt of the jokes more often than the others, due to his stupidity.
    • Occasionally, Claire. While not as much as her brother, she is sometimes made fun of by Michael. Also, a running gag involves her falling down stairs.
  • Calling Me a Logarithm: A variation happens in the episode with Michael's sister. As she's leaving she says "Nutmeg", prompting Jay to say "What'd you call me?!" However, she explains that nutmeg is the secret ingredient in a family recipe (the fact that Michael's mother never told Jay always bothered her).
  • Catchphrase: Averted in Season 1. After that, it was open season...
    • Michael had "Ehhhh... No." whenever someone made an idiotic suggestion and he felt like giving them false hope, and a Running Gag was Michael dragging out the "Ehhhh..." part or coming with increasingly creative ways to drop the phrase. Eventually adopted by the rest of the cast.
    • In later seasons, Claire had a a ditzy giggle and Jay had a high-pitched cackle.
    • Franklin (and later, Michael) had the habit of making a particularly bad joke and then following it up with "Any-who...", with a slight elongating of the "any" much in the way of "".
    • Jay also had "What kind of foolishness...?" whenever someone did something stupid.
  • Characterization Marches On: Tony was initially just a Nice Guy boyfriend of Claire's, that in his early appearances got a bit rude when Michael's Overprotective Dad tendencies got a little too far. Then he got a bit more subdued and even nicer, until he becomes a holier-than-thou Christian evangelist, and pretty condescending to Claire and Michael when they do or say things that don't agree with his beliefs.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • In order to stop Jay and his sister from fighting, Michael starts singing "Oh Canada" badly and with the wrong lyrics: "Oh Canada, I love you Canada!/You gave us bacon! You gave us hockey!"
    • When Jay and Kady fall ill, Jay asks Michael to take Kady to see a physician. Faced with Michael's unwillingness to do so, Jay threatens to kiss Michael (and infect him along the way). That gets Michael on the move quickly.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: In one episode, Michael finally warms up to the idea of Claire and Tony dating and Michael even says he likes Tony because he's such a good kid. The next day she dumps Tony and starts dating a good for nothing gangsta' wannabe who constantly talks down to her. After trying to win Claire back fails, Jay has a talk with Claire, wanting to know how can she dump a good guy like Tony and start dating a thug who doesn't appreciate her. Claire says that lately she has gotten annoyed with Michael and just wants to see him suffer, Jay tells her that she understands she's going through a rebellious phase, but that's still no reason to date the other guy, and suggests to Claire she break up with him and give Tony another chance. Once Claire and Tony make up, Michael jokingly tells them he hates him.
  • Dead Pet Sketch: An episode has Michael accidentally kill Kady's pet hamster. She stays completely oblivious until told about it. Funnily enough, she doesn't seem squicked until Michael explains how he had to keep up the charade.
    Yuck! You let me play with a dead hamster?!
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In one episode Michael meets Jay's psychology professor, Floyd F. Tillman (played by James Avery). Turns out the F stands for "Floyd".
    Michael: So your name is "Floyd Floyd"?
    Tillman: Yup yup.
  • Dirty Coward: Calvin personally brings this out of Michael.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Micheal does this to all his kids. He'll go to great lengths to punish his kids or get a confession no matter how small the issue is. In one instance, he tries to get Junior thrown out of the house for drinking all the milk. Subverted though, in that he needed an excuse to throw him out because Junior got a tattoo and wasn't able to punish him for it.
  • The Ditz: Junior, Claire (in later seasons) and Tony are this sitcom's resident moronic fools who exacerbate the other characters with their stupidity but are usually well-intentioned.
  • Dope Slap: Michael often gives Junior these whenever he says something exceptionally stupid.
  • Downer Ending: To the episode "Road Trip".
    Kady: Are we there yet?
    Michael: Yes, we are. That is Paul Revere's house.
    Junior: Which one?
    Michael: The one behind the sign that says, "Paul Revere's House: Closed For His Birthday".
    (One by one, the entire family dissolves into Inelegant Blubbering)
  • Duck Season, Rabbit Season: The scheme Jay used to trick Michael into letting Claire (as a sophomore) going to the senior prom. Michael even says, upon realization, "Wait a minute, you Bugs Bunny'd me!"
  • Dumbass Teenage Son: Junior, who at one point can't even spell his name.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: The episode "Of Mice and Men" involves the family discovering the presence of a mouse in the house. Michael and Jay play the trope's scenario straight, by hopping up onto chairs at the sight of the mouse (well, actually, taking turns sight-scene-by-sight-scene with one jumping onto a kitchen chair and knocking the other off to replace him/her); Junior and Kady just show the typical fear, minus chair-jumping. Claire, however, does not elicit the fear due to refusing to be around for Michael's harebrained attempts at killing the mouse, and Franklin is only around in one scene, studying the droppings.
  • Egg Sitting: Michael makes Junior take care of a water balloon to test if he is ready to be a parent. Junior draws a face on it and calls it Fetus Face. It is eventually destroyed when he slams down the hood of his car while arguing with Michael and the water balloon falls on the floor, followed by a montage of Junior and the water balloon together.
  • Embarrassing Ad Gig: When Michael tries to stop Claire from getting a modeling gig, the recruiter notes that Michael would make the perfect hand model for an ad for a hand cream marketed towards men. What the recruiter doesn't tell Michael is that his hands are supposed to represent the effeminate hands of those who don't buy the product. On top of that, Michael acts incredible goofy while filming the ad.
    Announcer: Don't be a pansy. Be a mansy.
  • Flanderization: Hoo boy, where to begin. Junior's stupidity, Claire's clumsiness, Jay's callousness, etc.
  • Freudian Excuse: When Michael and Jay were still in high school, she got pregnant with junior, they got married and had to put off whatever plans they had for after high school for several years. That experience made Michael an overbearing Overprotective Dad towards Claire, and the only reason she's allowed to date is because Jay convinced him to. Even though her latest boyfriend, Tony, is more than happy to wait until marriage, which he understands and has clearly stated to be several years after high school, and even college, Michael would rather he stayed as far away as possible from Claire.
  • Gag Penis: In one episode Jay paints a picture of Michael in the style of Michelangelo's David, and a friend puts it in her art gallery. When it's unveiled, a woman standing next to Jay says "Holy moley, how do you find time to paint?!" Subverted since Michael had altered it the night before to avoid embarrassment about what Jay had actually painted.
  • Genius Ditz:
    • Claire is portrayed as an overly vapid, clumsy ditz who mostly cares about her appearance and superficial things...but she is a honor student.
    • Junior has shown himself to be quite bright when the chips call for it, and he's a very talented portrait artist and cartoonist. In later seasons, he's more or less at extreme levels of stupidity, although an episode focuses on the idea that Junior's son is a trigger for otherwise unseen levels of intelligence. Also, it's hinted that his flash cartoon parodying his own family might become a hit.
  • Genre Savvy: Micheal is usually the one to suspect if his kids are up to something and occasionally does his own little Batman Gambits in order to prove a point, although occasionally he's wrong and it turns out his kids weren't up to anything suspicious and he was just quick to jump to assumptions.
  • Good Parents: "Perfect Dad" basically centers around this, with the kids elaborating to Michael on their definition of a perfect father, whilst being immune to repercussions as they are under a family meeting as they know Michael will retaliate otherwise.
  • Groin Attack: One of Michael's favorite home movies is Junior catching himself in his fly.
    "My ding-ding!"
  • Grounded Forever: Michael punishes Claire by grounding her (and forcing her to do all the chores in the house) until she gets him an apple from the apple tree in the backyard. Then he gives her a few apple seeds.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Junior and Claire. Arguably more so Junior given that it resulted in a Teen Pregnancy.
  • Hypocrite: Several examples.
    • Jay taking offense to Michael calling their therapist, openly stating they only call him when she has a problem with Michael. When Michael decides that since he pays for the therapist, they're seeing a different one; Jay gets upset & immediately starts complaining when the new therapist takes Michael's side instead of hers, Eventually, they find an impartial therapist.
    • Michael saying he won't punish Junior for getting a tattoo, then kicking him out of the house when he finds out Junior drank all the milk, and again when Jay points out that her husband has an earring that his own father didn't exactly approve of.
    • In a later season, Jay decides that all the couples should play a game where they have to answer personal questions about their partner to see how well they know one another. All the men get their questions wrong, and after the women storm off the men realize that the women had yet to answer any questions, so they convince them to return so they can answer the men's questions. When they do, all the women get their answers wrong and forgive their partners for getting their questions wrong... except Jay, who refuses to forgive Michael for getting his question wrong even when she got hers wrong.
    • In the episode "Road Trip," Michael berates the family for breaking one of his rules of the car by switching seats, despite the fact that he broke one earlier in the episode when he threw Claire's phone out the window.
    • In the last episode, "The "V" Story", Jay expects Michael to go and get a vasectomy because she's really that paranoid and petty about not having anymore children, so much so that she kicks him out of his own bedroom just because Michael doesn't want anyone else touching his reproductive system, but when he suggests that she get her tubes tied, Jay cannot be bothered to do the same thing. It's bad enough to the point that they try to make Michael out to be the monster to the very end just because he doesn't want anyone fooling around downstairs to be infuriating, and it's even more insufferable when Jay acts like she, and the sex by association, is 100 precent worth it when it's probably not even worth that much and how Michael does not even get a say despite it being his body and his decision.
  • Improbable Parking Skills: Junior, trying to show his dad how he can drive responsibly and that he's maturing, parallel parks his car perfectly in less than a second.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Tony. Or at least he tries to be. Way too hard.
  • Left Hanging: The series ends with Jay attempting to have a tubal ligation surgery because Michael was too afraid to subject himself to a vasectomy, only to find out that it's too late and she is already pregnant.
  • Lethal Chef: Claire. One episode has Franklin trying to help improve her cooking... and it doesn't quite pan out.
  • Literally Laughable Question: In one episode, Junior wants to follow his girlfriend when she goes to college and says he can get a job in the city she goes to. He asks the guy sweeping the pizza parlour floor what his job pays, and is greeted by hysterical laughter.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Michael forced Junior to live in the garage for around about two seasons, as he had kicked Junior out of the house. By the time he was allowed to move back in, Michael had converted his son's room into his own play area and didn't want to give it up. Eventually, Junior was joined by his wife and son in "The Remodel", which led to him asking Michael if they could convert the garage into an apartment. An entire episode was spent doing that, after which Michael tells Junior he can move back into the house purely so he can take the remodeled garage for himself. And everyone else just went along with this.
  • Magic Feather: In one episode, Michael convinces Junior that as long as he's holding his son, he's a genius. When Junior starts being an Insufferable Genius, Michael reveals that it's a Magic Feather, explaining that his own father did the exact same with him in the past.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: A variation where Honest is Tony's real first name while Tony is actually his middle name.
  • Missing Episode: In-Universe. In the episode "The Director", Michael was trying to record his basketball game. Later, he found out that the tape is overwritten as "Kady's First Steps", and tries to recreate the video. Fortunately, Jay made a DVD copy of all of their home videos beforehand.
  • Nepotism: Averted in one episode. Junior comes to help Michael at work and starts bossing around his employees on the grounds that being the boss's son means he's the second-in-command. Michael ends up putting Junior through some demeaning jobs like scrubbing the toilet to teach him that he isn't the boss, and that you should treat your employees with respect.
  • Never Trust a Hair Tonic: In "The Sweet Hairafter", Michael's friend Jimmy has a hair-growth pill that makes him paranoid. Once Michael starts to take the pills, he displays the same symptoms.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy:
    • In the episode "They Call Me El Foosay", Jay dresses up as a sexy maid and talks seductively to Michael to try and get him away from the new foosball table. He's more excited by the fact that he was able to move the foosball table to their bedroom.
    • In "Quality Time", Jay tries to seduce Michael to get his attention away from the game that he's sucked into at the moment, by sensually dancing for him... only for Michael to tell her to do that off to the side while still playing his game and not even giving Jay a glance.
  • Overprotective Dad: Even after getting proof, time and again, that Tony is pretty much a boy scout, Michael still offers some stubborn resistance to letting Claire date him - even going so far as to drag Jay with him to turn their first date into a double date.
  • Pac Man Fever: In the episode "Quality Time", Michael gets hooked on a video game. We never see the game in question (and judging by the few lines of dialogue referring to it, it's not a real game) and whenever Michael plays it, he mashes the buttons on the controller and wiggles the joystick around wildly non-stop.
  • Parallel Porn Titles:
    Junior: Okay, I admit it. I accidentally ordered Star Whores on Pay-Per-View last night.
    Michael: Accidentally?
    Junior: I meant to order I Know Who You Did Last Summer!
  • Parental Favoritism: Michael with Kady. It's revealed Michael is this way because Kady has always preferred Jay to him, ever since the day she was born where she would cry whenever he went near her, and so he has been trying to win his daughter's affection literally since she was born.
  • Parenting the Husband: Implied with Vanessa and Junior.
    Jay: You're going to make a great mommy.
    Vanessa: I get a lot of practice with Junior.
  • Parody Sue: Betty White played a one-shot character that was an obvious parody of Mary Poppins.
  • Pet the Dog: It's clear that Michael truly does care for his family, despite his Jerkass behavior.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Junior escaping to the bathroom with increasingly supposedly non-sexual magazines, the height of which was an issue of a monthly cooking magazine.
  • Prematurely Bald: It's mentioned a couple of times that Michael began losing his hair in his 20s. Same also for Damon Wayans.
  • Prom Baby: Junior. According to Michael, this is why Jay missed her high school prom.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: In some airings of the episode Marathon, Survivor's "Eye of The Tiger" is used for the race between Jay and Michael. But, later airings instead use a song that sounds similar to "Eye of The Tiger" likely to get around copyright and/or having to pay royalties to use the song.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • An interesting version — Damon Wayans' kids were on the writing staff in later seasons, so various plot points (such as Junior getting Vanessa pregnant) occurred because it had just happened to the writers.
    • Played straight when Jay was missing for the first part of Season 2, due to the actress taking maternity leave. Handwaved as Jay's mother having had an accident, so Jay had left to take care of her.
  • Rebus Bubble: In one episode, Michael attempts to help Jay study for a psychology test using what he calls "Sight-Kyle-ogy" (for example, Lion + Shaquille O'Neal = Rorschach). Unfortunately this causes her to fail the test, so she hands him one that says "Booty on lockdown". Later, when he convinces the teacher to give her a re-test and she passes, she hands him another and walks off.
    Michael: "Spank that donkey"? Why would I want to spank that a- ("Eureka!" Moment, runs off after her)
  • Screaming Birth: Vanessa giving birth to her baby (with some help).
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Michael. Want proof? Watch him meet LeBron James.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Jay is convinced that she's a lot smarter and more attractive than she really is.
  • Soap Punishment: Junior decides to run the name Chuck through The Name Game algorithm in the presence of his parents. Cut to Junior sitting at the kitchen table with a bar of soap in his mouth.
  • Sore Loser: In "Of Breasts and Basketball", after losing a basketball game to Junior, Michael starts making excuses as to why he lost, e.g. claiming Junior was showboating and being derisive to him the whole time, and went as far as to punish Junior for beating him. Then, Junior soundly beats Michael again at a rematch, with Michael having to do Junior's chores.
  • Stout Strength: Calvin can throw standard-size refrigerators easily & has been shown to be strong enough to move an entire factory truck.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: After Michael discovers he taped over the video of Kady's first steps by accident and Junior walks into the room.
    Junior: What are you doing?
    Michael: I ain't erasing anything!
  • Take a Third Option: One episode has Jay feuding with Michael's sister (played by Vivica A. Fox). When they demand to know who he'd save first if they were drowning, his response ("I'd probably kill myself trying to save both of you") is what makes them calm down and start listening to him.
  • Taped-Over Turmoil: As the result of Michael accidentally taping over a video of Kady's first steps.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Jay was pregnant with Junior during her senior year of High School. Claire's friend in Season 2, and later on Junior's girlfriend.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Junior has a standout moment in "Outbreak Monkey". While all other members of the family come down with flu through the usual means (Jay being patient zero, and Michael avoiding it like the plague it is until the end), Junior is the only one who actually infects himself voluntarily (if obliviously): he explains to Michael he had made a "study" on how the flu enters people's bodies, and demonstrates with a trashcan full of Jay's discarded tissues, which he proceeds to rub on himself while explaining how the virus could "hypothetically" enter his body.
  • Tsundere: Jay, a rare case considering she's, well, married.
  • Volleying Insults: Michael and Wanda communicate with each other this way.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Michael is often called out by Jay when he goes too far, mostly with his way of dealing with the kids.
  • Wham Line: The very last line of dialogue heard in the series.
    Jay: "I am pregnant."
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: In the final season, Junior comes up with an idea for a TV show called My Wife And Kid. The premise is essentially his life, albeit flip flopped with him being promoted to the breadwinner whilst his parents are instead mooching off him. Cartoon Michael has a giant head and is obsessed with get-rich-quick schemes, while Cartoon Jay's ass is its own separate character. Named Rufus. Surprisingly enough, they both find it Actually Pretty Funny.
  • Your Head A-Splode: In Season 5, Tony's stern religious beliefs begin conflicting with his sexual desires for his girlfriend Claire to the point that he couldn't be around her and do even the most mundane things. To deal with this, Claire decides to stand in front of him completely naked until he's so desensitized to her that they can go back to how they were before. Tony promptly freaks out and his head explodes, and then it turns out that it was just his imagination, since Claire comes down stairs fully clothed, leading to Tony running away screaming.


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