On Our Own (1994 TV series)

On Our Own is an American sitcom that aired on ABC from September 13, 1994 until April 14, 1995. The series stars Ralph Louis Harris and six real life siblings: Jazz, Jocqui, Jake, Jojo, Jurnee, and Jussie Smollett.[1]

On Our Own
On Our Own Title Screen.jpg
Created byDavid W. Duclon
Developed byThomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Written byDavid Chambers
Michael Din
David W. Duclon
Gregory Thomas Garcia
Ralph Greene
Lore Kimbrough
Gary Menteer
Fred Rubin
Timothy Stack
Directed byRichard Correll
Kelly Sandefur
John Tracy
Joel Zwick
StarringRalph Louis Harris
Jojo Smollett
Jazz Smollett
Jussie Smollett
T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh
Jurnee Smollett
Jocqui Smollett
Roger Aaron Brown
Kimberley Kates
Theme music composerJesse Frederick
Bennett Salvay
Opening theme"Love, Tried and True" performed by Joe Turano
Composer(s)Jesse Frederick
Bennett Salvay
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes20
Executive producer(s)David W. Duclon
Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Suzanne de Passe
Suzanne Coston
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production company(s)Lightkeeper Productions
de Passe Entertainment
Miller-Boyett Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkABC
Picture format480i (SDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 13, 1994 (1994-09-13) –
April 14, 1995 (1995-04-14)

The series was created and executive produced by David W. Duclon, one of the executive producers of Family Matters. The series was also produced by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, who developed the show. Suzanne de Passe and Suzanne Coston were additional executive producers, with Duclon's longtime colleague Gary Menteer acting as co-executive producer (who also was a producer/writer on Family Matters, to which he returned when On Our Own was canceled).

The series was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions, with associates Lightkeeper Productions (Duclon's company) and de Passe Entertainment. On Our Own was the first Miller-Boyett sitcom to be produced by Warner Bros. Television for its entire run.


The series centers on the Jerrico family, consisting of seven brothers and sisters (all of whom have names that start with "J") in the O'Fallon Park neighborhood of St. Louis who lose their parents and are being raised by the eldest brother, Josh (Harris). The early episodes focused on the siblings attempting to not be split up by authorities. This leads to Josh, the eldest brother who was trying to raise the family alone, to dress in drag and pose as older guardian, Aunt Jelcinda (also known as "Mama J"), to fool their case worker, Alana Michaels (Kimberley Kates). Alana quickly sees through the charade, but decides to help the family stay together. Alana and the family attempt to fool Alana's boss, Mr. Gordon Ormsby (Roger Aaron Brown), that "Mama J" is actually taking care of the family. Problems arise when Mr. Ormsby becomes enamored with "Mama J" and pursues her. Ultimately, "Mama J" tells Mr. Ormsby that she cannot enter into a relationship with him because she is focused on the well being of the children.

The pilot episode also featured Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly as Hannah, a young neighbor girl and friend of the Jerricos. She was originally slated to be a regular cast member, as she was credited in the opening title sequence (with "and Rae'Ven Kelly as Hannah" appearing last in the cast credit procession), but she did not appear ever again after the prologue segment of the pilot.

In December 1994, the series was put on hiatus and retooled. When it returned to the air in March 1995, Josh was granted full custody of his siblings, thus ending the need for the Aunt Jelcinda/Mama J character. The characters of Alana Michaels and Mr. Ormsby were also written out of the show, and a new character, Scotti Decker (T'Keyah Crystal Keymáh) was introduced. Scotti, a young, attractive professional contractor, rented a room from the Jerricos in exchange for the work she was doing on their home (in her debut episode, rotted beams caused the bathroom tub to crash through the living room ceiling). She became a sister figure to the younger kids, while fighting off sexual advances from Josh and Jimi and turning them into more responsible "men of the house". Suki (Karen Kim) and Nails (Laura Ponce) were the carpenters who worked for Scotti.

Having aired on Sunday nights at 7:30/6:30c during the first half of the season, On Our Own was moved to the 9:30/8:30c time slot following Step by Step on TGIF when it returned in March 1995. The changes to the series in the spring didn't help ratings, and after six more episodes, the show was canceled by ABC.[2]


Cast of On Our Own




No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Pilot"Joel ZwickDavid W. DuclonSeptember 13, 1994 (1994-09-13)
After their parents die in an automobile accident, twenty-year-old Josh takes over as the authority figure of his six younger siblings. But the by-the-rules head of Department of Children Services, Gordon Ormsby, hears of the Jerricos' case and sends new social worker Alana Michaels to investigate and, if accurate, prepare for foster care. Josh assumes the identity of "Aunt Jelcinda" to combat the authorities.
2"Last Tango in St. Louis"
"Dog Day After Groom"
John TracyFred RubinSeptember 18, 1994 (1994-09-18)
Josh has a problem: Gordon asks "Aunt Jelcinda" for a date, and he cannot refuse if he wants the family to stay together.
3"Matchmaker Mama"TBATBASeptember 25, 1994 (1994-09-25)
"Aunt Jelcinda" finds a distraught young woman in a restaurant ladies' room and sets her up with her alter ego, Josh. She eventually becomes his girlfriend.
4"A Matter of Principal"John TracyDavid ChambersOctober 2, 1994 (1994-10-02)
When Jesse is unjustly suspended from school for fighting, Jimi poses as Jesse's grandfather for a meeting with the principal.
5"Nok 'Til You Drop"TBATBAOctober 9, 1994 (1994-10-09)
Jimi loses money he doesn't have to a con man on a game of Nok-Hockey. Meanwhile, Jai readies for her first dance.
6"Swiss Family Jerrico's"TBATBAOctober 16, 1994 (1994-10-16)
Josh thinks a camping trip will provide relief from his impersonation, but Gordon tags along.
7"Bargain Basement"TBATBAOctober 23, 1994 (1994-10-23)
The Jerricos discover a trunk full of memories of their parents – and Alana too may soon be a memory, since Gordon wants to take her off their case.
8"Bonnie is Really Clyde"John TracyGreg GarciaOctober 30, 1994 (1994-10-30)
"Aunt Jelcinda" befriends a runaway teen while Joc threatens to do so.
9"A Family Affair"Joel ZwickLore KimbroughNovember 13, 1994 (1994-11-13)
Josh is getting serious about his new girlfriend. "The trouble is," sighs Jimi, "if a girl gets serious with Josh, she gets a free six-pack of assorted Jerricos."
10"Baby Blues"Rich CorrellLore KimbroughDecember 4, 1994 (1994-12-04)
The kids try to raise money for tickets to a Whitney Houston concert, with mixed success. Meanwhile, Josh gets stuck in an elevator with a very pregnant woman.
11"That's My Car and I'm Sticking to It"TBATBADecember 11, 1994 (1994-12-11)
Neighborhood gossip gets the Jerricos investigated.
12"All I Want for Christmas"TBATBADecember 18, 1994 (1994-12-18)
When a kindergarten bully tells Joc that Santa Claus doesn't exist, Josh dons a Santa suit to prove the bully wrong – and succeeds only too well.
13"Parents' Night"TBATBADecember 28, 1994 (1994-12-28)
Josh can not attend parents' night at Jordee's school because he has to finish an article.
14"The Boarder"Kelly SandefurFred RubinMarch 3, 1995 (1995-03-03)
Josh wins custody of the kids, and the family takes in a boarder: live-in contractor Scotti.
15"Obstacle Illusion"Joel ZwickDavid ChambersMarch 10, 1995 (1995-03-10)
Jordee gets into remote-control cars. Meanwhile, Jimi is shot down by a girl who admits she is a jinx and proves it.
16"He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"Joel ZwickLore KimbroughMarch 17, 1995 (1995-03-17)
While poking around in the attic, Josh discovers love letters to his mom from his dad – who was not the father of his siblings.
17"Girl Talk"Kelly SandefurGreg Garcia & Ralph GreeneMarch 24, 1995 (1995-03-24)
A football star eyes Jai, who wants a particular shy boy to ask her out. Meanwhile, Josh gets in trouble with his girlfriend because of Scotti.
18"Little Rascals"TBATBAMarch 31, 1995 (1995-03-31)
Josh, a cracker-jack coffee shop manager, has a crisis to manage: his staff has the flu. Enter the replacement staff: his siblings and Scotti.
19"The Easy Way"TBATBAApril 7, 1995 (1995-04-07)
Jordee takes the easy way out of a geography exam: she cheats. And a girl with a "bad rep" has her eye on Jimi.
20"The Tonsil Tale"Joel ZwickFred Fox, Jr. & Jim GeoghanApril 14, 1995 (1995-04-14)
Joc needs a doc – "Someone pulled a Christmas tree from my throat" – so it's tonsillectomy time for the first-grader. Meanwhile, Jesse takes up hypnosis.

After cancellationEdit

After the series was cancelled, the exterior shots of the Jerrico home resurfaced on Miller-Boyett's (rather, in this case, Miller-Boyett-Warren's) short-lived 1997 sitcom Meego. Although not set in St. Louis, Meego used the On Our Own home exteriors to depict the residence of the Parker family in that series. Meego largely used the view from the house's east side in exterior shots, but most of the shots from On Our Own were recycled.


The series was briefly re-aired on TV One in 2007.

Award nominationsEdit

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1995 Young Artist Awards Best Performance by an Actor Under Ten in a TV Series Jake Smollett Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress Under Ten in a TV Series Jurnee Smollett Nominated


  1. ^ "The '94 TV Season: Who's New and Who's Back". Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. 49 (12): 27. October 1994. ISSN 0012-9011.
  2. ^ "The '95 TV Season: Who's Gone? Who's New? Who's Back?". Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. 50 (12): 94. October 1995. ISSN 0012-9011.

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