‘I Love Lucy’ Star Lucille Ball Actually Loved ‘Perfect Strangers’

The 1980s were known for many things — big hair, bright colors, and the TGIF Friday night TV lineup. One of the shows that found fame anchoring the time slot was Perfect Strangers.

The show introduced audiences to zany Balki Bartokomous and his cousin Larry Appleton. Showing an immigrant trying to navigate his way around America was a novel idea at the time, and audiences loved it. Even more, one of the greatest comedic geniuses of the time thought it was great too.

The premise of ‘Perfect Strangers’

The idea for the show originally came to fruition because of the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles. According to Ranker, one of the show’s creators wondered what it’s like for the athletes coming to the U.S. He was curious about the culture shock they experienced and decided it was a great idea for a new show.

Perfect Strangers centers around distant cousins Balki and Larry. Balki is from the fictional country “Mypos” and moves to Chicago looking to bunk with Larry. The pair often struggle to communicate and instead find themselves in all kinds of hairy situations. Balki’s signature “Dance of Joy” became a staple of the show and delighted viewers. It ran for eight seasons on ABC and even produced a highly regarded spinoff.

During Perfect Strangers, fans were introduced to elevator operator Harriette Winslow who worked at The Chicago Chronicle with Larry and Balki. In 1989, the network decided to center a show around Harriette and her family. You may have heard of it — Family Matters?  Harriette’s quick wit and sarcastic humor delighted viewers, and the show easily joined the TGIF lineup. 

The show aired for nine seasons and became the second-longest-running comedy featuring a Black family, behind only The Jeffersons. It also introduced the world to nerdy Steve Urkel. The Winslow’s geeky next-door neighbor was in love with middle child Laura, and he became the breakout star, much to the chagrin of his castmates.

Gossip surrounded the show when the youngest Winslow child, Judy, played by Jaimee Foxworth, was sent to her room during an episode in season four never to be heard from again. Fans didn’t know what happened to Judy. Did the young actress playing her die? Rumors circulated, but the real reason isn’t as juicy.

Looper reports that Steve Urkel’s popularity meant the higher-ups wanted him to get more air time. This meant there was less money to go around for Foxworth, and she got cut from the show. 

Lucille Ball loved the show

Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo
Lucille Ball as Lucy Ricardo | CBS Photo Archive.

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Often noted as one of the greatest comedians of the twentieth century, Lucille Ball and her then-husband, Desi Arnaz created the beloved sitcom I Love Lucy.

The show depicted Ball as a housewife that had a knack for getting into trouble — sort of like Balki Bartokomous. Both characters are zany with great comedic timing. They also both have a level-headed companion to help them through all their tricky situations.

I Love Lucy relied on physical humor, so did Perfect Strangers, and that was not something often seen in 1980s sitcoms. Lucille Ball recognized all these similarities and couldn’t help but languish praise on the show.

Mental Floss reports that she called the show “just great” and that “I love those two guys.” Bronson Pinchot, who played Bartokomous on the show couldn’t help but gush about the compliment. “It’s like being a watercolorist and having Renoir say, ‘Interesting, good work.'”

Fans agreed with Ball, which is why Perfect Strangers ran for so many seasons and produced a spinoff. TV Web reports a reboot might even be in the works.