Season 6 Reportage

Hello, imaginary new reader who is starting this blog with this very post, let me explain to your non-linear ass what’s going on here. I found it so important that both you and I understand some of the greater context of Perfect Strangers that I was willing to extend the length of this review blog by more than a month so we could explore the extant articles and interviews about the show. This post covers May 5, 1990 through May-ish, 1991. As usual, all of these pieces were curated by Linda Kay of the fansite.

To those of you who have been here longer, you’ll understand why I say that, this time around, I find myself hyper-vigilant for emotions, for buried truths, for certain themes and threads that have revealed themselves over the course of the last three of these posts. We’ve seen a Bronson who waffled and contradicted himself on his own reasons for gracefully agreeing to beg for his chance to settle on being the star of Perfect Strangers, a Bronson who saw his own star rising until everyone else saw Second Sight and informed him which way up was, and a Bronson who wanted to cover his insecurities by claiming to be more cultured than his own pratfalls (like Chevy Chase, whom I’m certain Bronson would swear to be unfamiliar with).

That’s more Bronsons than you can shake a shoe at!  And we’ll get to Bronson–we’ll climax with Bronson–but let’s cover some other ground first.

There’s a tool in the project management world called a triangle. It functions just like any other triangle you’ve seen, except it has words on the vertices.


Anyway, you’ve got these three aspects of any project: scope, time, and cost.  If you want to increase one or more of them, the sum of its angles still must equal 180°. You want to cut costs? Be prepared for it to take longer. Want to widen that scope and keep the time the same? Be prepared for the quality to get squished unless you raise those costs. Anyway, I think this model goes a long way towards explaining how More Stories! More Listings! More Pages! results in having to re-use a promotional image from four years ago.


You could certainly make the case that ratings for the show had dropped, but it was certainly true that the person who did this write-up for Modern Screen in Summer 1991 was able to find someone in the staff lounge to tell him all about Perfect Strangers while he hastily scribbled notes on a coffee filter. This article makes it seem like Larry and Jennifer got engaged maybe a few months after Larry quit working at Ritz Discount.  I’d love to read a whole issue of Modern Screen just to learn how wonderful every single show on the air was. “Melanie Wilson and Rebeca Arthur are wonderful as the boys’ upstairs neighbors….” “Mark Linn-Baker and Bronson Pichot [sic] are wonderful together.” I dunno, maybe I just don’t “get it” because I’m not a true fan.

And really, we ought not forget that fan was once short for fanatic. So could there be a truer fan than Perfect Strangers doyenne Linda Kay, who attended tapings, created a newsletter, and ? Here’s a truth that I discovered entirely on my own this past week: no amount of adherence to non-fiction guarantees an absence of authorial bias, of creative choice of presentation. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Linda Kay reveal herself with the equivalent of trigger warnings for articles that were remotely negative about Perfect Strangers. Telefilm magazine ran an article on the Season 6 premiere “Safe at Home”, and Linda prefaces it by saying “[This article] illustrated how reviewers often just didn’t ‘get’ the show… particularly telling is the review’s assertion that the comedy is based partly off of Balki’s ‘innate stupidity.’ ?????”


Half the show is shit like Larry saying “I’m going to hit the sack” and Balki fearfully covering up his crotch. What is there to get? Was there really some deeper meaning to “Cousin Larry got a perversion”?

I’d encourage you to read that article; it renews my faith in humanity when it says “’Perfect Strangers’ is unafraid to aim low”, or when it points out that the episode used the exterior establishing shot six times in a single-location episode. It aptly refers to Pinchot as having become “slick” and Linn-Baker “delighted at his own cuteness”.  I hadn’t paid this much mind until Judy Pioli took over, but this article did alert me to a revolving door of directors at the beginning of Season 6, which perhaps explains why the quality tanked so quickly in those first few episodes.  The Bob and Tom show their appreciation for how Rich Correll was willing to be overworked by spending potential bonus money on a full page in The Hollywood Reporter.


Speaking of credit, one spatiotemporal locus where it’s due is Linda’s personal attendance at Perfect Strangers filmings in later seasons. Anywhere corroboration is possible increases the value of an information source, and a short piece from what Linda terms a “rag mag” is one such example. The article describes Pinchot as a powder keg, lashing out at his co-stars and even drawing Linn-Baker into a “screaming match” (likely over whether Jeff Lynne was singing “sweet talkin’ Lola” or “sweet talkin’ lover”). Mention is made of a filming where Bronson had an audience member thrown out for sneezing.  Linda claims to have been there (let’s assume she was there for every episode) and says that Bronson simply left the stage for a few minutes to get back into character after that person’s “disruptive noise”. Her blind spot here, though, is that this article claims to have an “insider” source, who would have been placed to hear Bronson say he wanted the audience member thrown out. I’ll agree with Linda that there are likely exaggerations there, but I have to wonder why someone would make this up out of whole cloth. I have no frame of reference here: was it standard practice for these magazines to slander such minor actors? The size of the article seems to be commensurate with Bronson’s stature, and I’d at the very least believe someone who had a beef with him offered the information.

So we have Linda corroborating that there was indeed a noise in the audience, and that it affected Bronson.  On the other hand, we have a second source giving a reason why Bronson might be testy (again Linda gives us her full blessing to ignore it): that Bronson finally realized they weren’t giving Balki any independent stories and that the impending marriage storyline would sideline him.  According to Star Magazine, Bronson was worried that Balki’s role would be reduced to watching Larry and Jennifer fuck, as if that wouldn’t improve the show. Has it come up yet that Melanie Wilson is now married to William Bickley, one of the show’s producers? And that we have a first-hand source calling Wilson a diva? It would be wildly irresponsible of me to actually try to put anything together from that (Melanie was still married to her aforementioned husband), but I won’t judge you if you do.

Corroborating stories is a tricky thing, and unfortunately the Information Age has both eased and exacerbated the problem.  Consider Philip Roth having to publish an article about his life because Wikipedia wouldn’t allow him to add information to his own entry because it couldn’t be cited. And thanks to mindless copying and link rot, the bullshit mountain often proves unscalable and it’s often impossible to determine where online information even originated. But consider this: a TV Guide piece on “not everyone [being] happy about” Jennifer getting 100% more lines on the show was published before the one in Star Magazine. On the other hand, the idea that Bronson would be unhappy about this doesn’t jibe with his previous discomfort with the behind-the-scenes female tooth-gnashing.

But we can be certain ABC will do what’s best for the show and its actors, right? Haha nah j/k they totally realized that getting kids to watch meant that eventually the family members with wallets would watch too. By the way, turns out Perfect Strangers had also gotten a little bump in the ratings from viewers who stuck around after Full House.

I’m a firm believer in people being the authoritative source on their own lives, even if they lie to you about them, because even the lies disclose something.  So I find this Q&A with Rebeca Arthur in Kidsday to be particularly revealing:

Q: Do you like your part?

A: I love it…. Somebody has to play her and I’ll do it.

Other tidbits of note: Rebeca claims that many of Mary Anne’s lines don’t make it to the final edits, that she and Melanie would hang out outside of work and hit up the miniatures stores, and when asked what her family thinks of her career, Rebeca informs the interview that her mother is dead.

But this quote is going to come in handy later in this post: “[Bronson] is sort of like a big kid, and he gets in trouble when he is so naughty.”


Rebeca appeared on Into the Night with Rick Dees, which aired (I think) after TGIF back then.  Dees introduces her by saying to the guys in the audience that he bets they stare at her tits when they watch Perfect Strangers. They discuss her Circus of the Stars appeances (Rebeca had to withstand suspicions while carrying the “noose” we saw last week through customs) and Rick asks her if being into doing acrobatic stunts is sexual and fuck you, dude. When Rebeca goes home to Maryland for Christmas, she becomes the major attraction at the mall. Oh, and how could I forget Rebeca’s great story about how Melanie almost called in a Milli Vanilli song request to Rick Dees’s radio show?


Rebeca Arthur (Pisces) also was on Mother Love, hosted by comedian Mother Love. I want to say she looks familiar, but I also don’t want to be that white guy. They talk about a Star Magazine article about Rebeca’s diet (somehow it’s not a “rag mag” for Linda when it’s not negative), and how Rebeca hates surprise parties because she doesn’t enjoy “performing” emotion, which further convinces me she and I should get married.  Mother Love asks her other guest, Eric somebody*, whether he prefers “tiny” or “voluptuous” women, and he tries to duck the question by saying that everybody tends to lower their own standards when it’s getting late at the club.

Hmmm you may be thinking perhaps there is an underlying theme that Casey is hinting at.


Before we move on to that, there is one New York Daily News article by Patricia O’Haire about Mark Linn-Baker. Turns out he does theatre shit during the summer!


Patty O. (hi Patty) also gives us an article about Bronson’s theatre work. Remember how last time we learned that Bronson was in a Broadway production of Zoya’s Apartment? Well, the reviews are in: Bronson was in it.


In May 1990, right where we left off last time, Bronson sounds weary of being Balki for so long. Let’s face it: having to do one accent exclusively must be pretty painful when you can do three of them. He expresses surprise to Patty that that would be how he’d get typecast, even though we saw him (years ago now) claim to not want the Balki role to avoid that very consequence. It appears that Bronson networked his way into the play since he was going to be in New York for a Letterman appearance. Bronson tells us that he “can spot a good director or a good antique… anywhere.” But what, to Bronson, is a good director? Some unvisionary paycheck-casher who’ll let him do what he wants?


A further revelation here–or rather, here, in a New York Newsday review of the play by Linda Winer–is that Bronson’s New York Connection was owed a favor by the director of Zoya’s Apartment, a 3-hour play which originally premiered in 1926 Russia. It’s tempting to believe that TGIF lent its actors a particular brand of smugness–Winer here refers to Bronson “[taking] the stage with his familiar exhilarated sense of his own delight”–but I think it simply fostered That Genetic Imperious Feeling in Bronson’s case. Linda Kay must not have caught the nuance of that quote, but she certainly feels the need to distance herself from Daily News theatre critic Howard Kissel’s statement that “Pinchot does nothing beyond cute, tiresome shtick”. The work this woman has done to overcome cognitive dissonance in the face of the opinions of people who have them for a living.


My own sense made explicit: Bronson claims in a May 1990 CNN “Showbiz Today” interview that being “fed up” with his life led him to the play. And let’s give Bronson as much credit as is due: he was engaging in some self-improvement during this period. He mentions his personal trainer and gymnastics instructor in a few different interviews, and he was definitely no slouch with his work. The director for Zoya did try to push Bronson in a different direction, calling him out any time he saw Bronson do something he had done in Perfect Strangers. Almost a year later, when he again appeared on Letterman, Bronson relates one accident that occurred during one night’s performance.  He and lead actress Linda Thorson played lovers and had, over the course of rehearsals and performances, developed their interactions.


Bronson misread Thorson’s readiness and tried a bit of physical comedy they had discussed; but because it was unpracticed he ended up “handstanding” on her face and falling over.  I want so bad to credit him for trying to grow as an actor, but “Honeymooners This” proved that the only lesson he learned was that there are no lasting repercussions for falling on your–or someone else’s–face. And he claims elsewhere that he still uses his downtime to research the role of Balki. Really? Was that for the episode where Balki does a shitty California accent? Or the one where he does a shitty New Yorker accent?


Mark Linn-Baker shows up to mumble about plays, but god damn look at those lapels.


We communicate with one another through various channels, the main two categories being verbal and physical. Some are “leakier” than others, and part of the surreality of sitcoms lies, I think, in reordering the hierarchy. Speech and facial expressions tend to be far leakier for sitcom characters; where bodily movements are more likely to give us away. So maybe that’s why I think I’m picking up on Bronson’s emotions when he’s on talkshows. He seems more relaxed in general, at least for a few months after doing Zoya’s Apartment.

But Season 6 started and Bronson was back on his bullshit again.  It’s going to be difficult to give you these interviews chronologically, so I’m going to group these by theme.

Bronson is better than you


Bronson was a cut-up, I’m sure, but I doubt he was a capable class clown; I sense a frustrated teenager more than anything. “I was smart-mouthed and precocious and made teachers feel threatened.”  I felt the same way too when I was in high school. But then I went and made a career out of staying in college indefinitely and it’s been easy to see my own transition from teen-in-the-80s-teen-movie to adult-in-the-80s-teen-movie.  I think Bronson wanted article writers to play up his Yale credentials, and he certainly wants you to know that he found stardom by ignoring his professors’ encouragement to pursue illustration. There’s also a surprisingly elderly quote about Bronson thinking kids have too many toys because he used to play with weeds. I don’t think it merits a psychology sidebar to say that we’re prickliest about not achieving our most prized goals. Bronson’s appears to be status when he expresses upset over a woman heckling him during a commercial shoot at a mall (for Pepsi, perhaps?).

“Hey, Bronson, easy money, isn’t it?”

If you’re out there, oh anti-Linda, marry me.

Bronson wants control


Or maybe what I mean is somewhere between that and “Bronson wants to know what’s going on” and “Bronson gets distracted when he doesn’t”.  In an interview from sometime in 1990 on Northwest Afternoon, Bronson starts the interview trying to ask about some freight cranes he saw on his way in that morning and the (female) host subtly lets him know that he’s not in control of the interview. But soon after that, he’s distracted by a kilt-wearing crewperson getting audience soundtrack. We get insight into themes #1 and #2 combining here when Bronson talks about getting pouty on set when the writers won’t let him do what he wants; but also that, on that rare week where there’s no new issue of Puss & Boots, Cleats In Heat, or Tongue Kiss and he actually watches Perfect Strangers, he’s able to see that the show works better that way. Even so, he still puts it down in general. A woman in the audience took the time to memorize an alliterative question about Bronson’s favorite episode; and Bronson responds by calling the show “boring”. The woman’s face falls briefly before the awareness that everyone else is laughing–and that she should too–catches up to her.


All these poor Lindas!

A slight tangent here: Bronson tells Arsenio in Feb. 1991 that it’s hard for him to know how well he does on Perfect Strangers because no one will tell him if he’s done a bad job, so please send him a link to this blog, I know he’ll appreciate it.

A couple more tidbits from rather long Northwest Afternoon interview: thank God Louie Anderson didn’t stay on the show, because hearing “Cousin Lowie” 8 million times would be its own special hell; Bronson expects that newer, better sitcoms will make Season 7 his last; and Bronson makes a joke I actually like! He claims that Mypos is south of Rhodes, but that it floats around.

As I was saying, Bronson has trouble letting someone else drive. He’ll stop the interview to ask a host about the micro-nods they’ll make to the crew who are also sending signals he’s trying to figure out. After 6 years of being a celebrity he’ll be surprised when the hosts announce that they’re cutting a commercial and ask “oh, are we done?”

Bronson chases a chicken around with a net


Bronson does not have his finger on the pulse of pop culture

And this makes it impossible for him to make good off-the-cuff jokes about celebrities. And when you combine this with the fact that

Bronson has no tact

…well, he “gets in trouble when he is so naughty”. He claims to prefer classical art and to have watched The Wizard of Oz hundreds of times (Regis quizzes him on the film and Bronson tells them that some of the answers their staff provided were wrong).  It’s re-established in that same Arsenio interview that Mama Pinchot wanted her children to be exposed to greater art than pop culture, and Bronson continues to mention elsewhere not being familiar with the Beatles as a result.


Matter of fact, Young MC was in the audience during Bronson’s October 1990 Arsenio interview, and Bronson admits to “liking” rap but having no idea who the main people or trends are. Again, Bronson is at his most relaxed when he’s around Arsenio, and maybe at his most vulnerable. In October, Bronson mentions being upset at the directing/editing choice of not showing his and Linn-Baker’s feet during their stirring rendition of a rap song he couldn’t give less of a shit about; but in the February 1991 interview, Bronson apologizes for having said so because it made the editor and associate producer “miserable”. I can appreciate that.

But what goes unaddressed in that first interview is, right off the bat, Bronson jokes on national television that his gymnastic instructor’s daughter was recovering from herpes. He even manages to elicit an “aww” from the audience when he tells her to “feel better”, which has got to be the worst way to wish someone improved health.


Something equally difficult to take is when he starts tossing off insults that don’t appear to have any shared public support.

In the second half of that 1991 Arsenio appearance, Bronson repeats a story about another interview he was on. I think this came up before, but: Bronson took a female host’s questions to him and Mark Linn-Baker as being an attempt to prove that men were scum.  In the audience, however, were a group of women using *ahem* their leaky channels to make clear they would fuck the two of them in alley outside if the desire was mutually shared. Who cares if he was misrepresenting, exaggerating, or misinterpreting; that’s an interesting story.

You heard that “but” coming and look at the size of it: he then immediately comments on Madonna having fucked her way to stardom. When the audience gets upset with him, he stands up on the ottomen and scolds them:


Bronson: Come on! Come on! What is the problem? Wait. If you want people to talk nice, then just go home and meet your friends.

Do I have to make a fuss every time somebody sighs? I’m looking for clues, and Arsenio does hang his head at this. But then Arsenio backs him up on it, throws the audience under the bus, and then asks them all to compliment Bronson on his suit. Hall & Goats combine their voices to protect the criticism of the rich girl, but I can’t go for that because some things are better left unsaid maneater private eyes. It’s kind of surreal when you see this chauvinist shit play out in real time.

Was it a common insult that Madonna was so untalented that she had to sleep with producers to get record deals? I’m not finding much evidence for it, though I am interested to hear if that was the case, because it would at least give some context. I think that Bronson simply thinks that you’re supposed to shit-talk others when you’re on television (“if you want people to talk nice…”), but pulling stuff out of your ass doesn’t make you cheeky, man. And don’t take that explanation of why he decided he was going to get a laugh as my way of trying to excuse him. Hell no, I think it’s doubly bad that he sexslandered a celebrity whose work he’s made damn sure we know he doesn’t give a shit about.

Thankfully, David Letterman doesn’t protect Bronson the same way in their February 1991 interview. Bronson’s last time there was when he was promoting Zoya’s Apartment; and here, while telling the story of landing on her face, he calls co-star Linda Thorson ugly. (These poor Lindas!)

First of all, fuck you on principle!


Second of all, fuck you on accuracy!


The audience boos Bronson and he scolds them.

There’s a handful of other factoids in all these interviews: they taped Perfect Strangers on Friday nights, it took between 3 and 4 hours to get one episode done, Bronson collects 1905 Danish phones, Bronson doesn’t believe the humanities’ ideal of consideration for its own sake has a place in higher education, he was in a Thanksgiving Day parade in Houston in 1990 that also included a float-sized version of the Kenner Real Ghostbusters Bug-Eye Ghost toy, which even the online Ghostbusters fan community was not aware of–


–Bronson really wanted to be the star of Richard Attenborough’s Charlie Chaplin biopic, he wanted to have his own Saturday morning cartoon show, he somehow both idolized Art Carney as a child and hated when The Honeymooners would come on because it was “too loud”, and he bought a house that used to be owned by Liberace.

But *sigh* there’s some more thematic overlap as we get into the last, and worst theme

Bronson’s a fucking creep to women

Multiple times in my life I’ve picked up the idea that it’s better for me–that social rewards await me–if I simply keep my mouth shut about being anyhow better than others. The Lord Chesterfield quote about wearing your learning like a pocketwatch; Proverbs 17:28; and probably most impactfully, the ending of Wanda Gág’s Millions of Cats, where millions of boasting cats devour each other in their vain attempt to gain an elderly couple’s adoptive favor, and the only survivor–the humble cat who neither boasted nor fought–is adopted.


My teenage stint as a Christian, among other influences, instilled in me the idea that doing is worth a lot more than saying; and seeing so many examples of imbalance towards the latter convinced me to put nothing on that side of the scale. I’ll admit to being put off when some media I consume become preachy (read: present a morally authoritative viewpoint), because that’s not what I came for in the first place.** I’ll always prefer nuance in the art I consume and make, but ultimately saying and doing are a false dichotomy.

All that to say I don’t, you know, call out sexism a lot; but I need to here since, as I’m told, silence tends to uphold the status quo. And I wish I could say that I wasn’t basically forced to do this in order to even talk about some of the shit Bronson pulls in his interviews this time around.


In an October 1990 appearance on Regis & Kathie Lee, he begins the interview by plucking at the crotch of his pants and talking about how big his dick is; for which Kathie Lee apologizes to a woman in the audience. One of the defenses of the bullied is to beat others to the punch and make fun of yourself, but it’s a bad look once you’re powerful.  At one point in the interview, Bronson walks behind Kathie Lee Gifford and gives her a massage, joking that he’s seen that same face on other women.


With mild self-deprecation, Bronson created a situation where Kathie Lee would be the bad guy if she voiced any real complaint. He gets away with being cute, but she probably went home and took a few scalding showers.


In a November 1990 interview on Into the Night, Rick Dees is just as much to blame when he tells Bronson that the musical guest that night–Tiffany–is now old enough that Bronson can hit on her. If you feel you need some symbolism that Rick Dees is cut from the same cloth as Bronson, he brings Bronson’s shoes into the conversation. Dees allows Bronson access to the audience, where lays across two women after signalling that he was just going in for a hug.


Bronson is surprised when Rick goes to commercial, but he’s allowed to stick around after Tiffany’s performance and talk about touching her genitals.


Rick joins in, making damn sure Bronson knows that Tiffany is of legal fucking age. I’m glad the host was cancelled before the show, because Dees’s nuts.


I’m surprised Attitudes kept bringing this guy back. Linda Dano calls Bronson out on wanting to just wander into the audience and fuck around instead of answering her questions (these poor, poor Lindas), and the conversation turns to Bronson’s girlfriend Wren Maloney.


She’s off-stage, and Bronson gets her to come out and have to be on camera and tell the muliebrous crowd that Bronson is “excellent” (she shakes her head while saying it instead of nodding; does this signify anything or am I too on qui vive?).


What’s more is that he uses this national television platform to acknowledge he and Wren had agreed to keep their planned marriage (which he himself brings up) a secret. Jesus Christ I’m trying to decide whether wondering aloud if Tiffany actually felt “New Inside” or publicly shitting on your intimate partner’s trust is worse and I hope I never come up with an answer.

One more thing from the Letterman interview: Bronson mentions wearing a button reading “Can I Fuck You?”.

I’m breaking chronology and putting Bronson’s May 1990 Regis & Kathie Lee appearance last because I had to do some soul-searching.


Regis Philbin–who, by the way, is what you’d get if Mark Linn-Baker snorted coke–has on hand a promotional image from “A Christmas Story” and Bronson almost immediately starts in talking about Melanie’s breasts, barrelling over some off-camera protest.


And… I said the same thing when I reviewed the episode. Bronson literally says “Look at the breasts on Melanie”, and I simply said the same thing with more words:


Jennifer and Mary Anne (Sagittarius) come by, and damn, whatever happened to that style of overalls? I’m not into blondes, nor am I into female characters who barely have the one personality trait, but Jennifer’s doing a lot with a little thanks to 80s fashions.

And I said that mere sentences away from my criticism of mistletoe’s pop-culture portrayal of mistletoe as a tool of the patriarchy! Blind spots suck.

Obviously, Bronson’s openly being a letch, and the fact that his and my audience differ by orders of magnitude doesn’t mean a damn thing. I find myself scrambling for reasons to excuse my behavior, and I’m not sure that there are.

Let’s test out one: it’s okay because I don’t have to interact with her, the implication being she’ll never know. Bronson may have had to talk to her later; I won’t. And you could argue I’m not harming Melanie Wilson directly; but I may have harmed your view of her by saying that I didn’t consider her fuckable until she used an outfit to accentuate her breasts.

The other main one: it’s just a joke. And the more complex version of this is: this blog is for humor and shouldn’t be taken seriously. I have a little trouble believing that Billy Superstar would talk to you in person the same way he wrote Full House Reviewed (his spelling and punctuation improved vastly any time he had to talk about something more serious); and you could argue he had developed a character to go along with the screen name. If I’m writing as a character, it’s maybe just an extremity of an inner voice that I only let out on paper or in front of close friends. I try to apply the same set of morals to everything I do; but perhaps I let Billy’s focus on Aunt Becky’s posterior permit me to continue commenting on Anterior Jennifer’s. And taking others’ leads–including the show’s tendency to see Jennifer as nothing but eye candy–isn’t the self I tell myself I am.

I was making jokes, yes. But they’re jokes that functioned only for those sharing my male gaze. My comment about breasts was unfiltered “hey, I kind of like those this week”. To say that the latter butt joke was less bad would miss the point, and the inner voice coming out there was allowing itself comments similar to those made by a past partner of mine. I even asked her about the jokes, and she laughed; but she knows enough of the greater context of Casey that it didn’t trouble her view of me. You don’t get to see all that context because, as I say, I don’t make a point of talking about how *ahem* virtuous my beliefs are. Hell, down here I’m God, right? I’m in a position where I get to explore the greater context of Perfect Strangers and even heap criticism on a Linda of my own, and keep my own faults as hidden as I can.

I owe an apology to the female portion of my audience because I–to whatever extent, it doesn’t matter–made it clear I was willing to unthinkingly consider Melanie Wilson in terms of whether I’d want to fuck her, making me less of a person you’d feel safe around. Doing is greater than saying, so my goal is holding me to never, ever doing that again. If you share that goal, thank you.

Kathie Lee offers Bronson some politer language–”nice figure”–which he agrees to. But then they surprise him by bringing out Rebeca Arthur and–

Bronson: Oh, Rebeca!

Rebeca: What is this stuff? [in reference to Bronson’s beard]

Bronson: Thanks! And you have big breasts!


She came all the way to New York to see him in Zoya’s Apartment.


*Eric Carle Lewis

**Later Groo comics; Leslie Hall’s fifth album Destination Friendship

I think I need a week away from Bronson before doing the season review, so join me next week for a bonus post!

9 thoughts on “Season 6 Reportage

  1. 1. Honest self-reflection is a good thing, and it’s wise to re-view our inherent biases through new lenses. When we know better, we do better.
    2. That ad congratulating Rich Correlli is really bothering me. It immediately raises the question–what was the 4th show? There’s no such thing as a block of *three* sitcoms. (I know this because I majored in broadcasting.) Wikipedia tells me that the 8pm/7pm central show on Friday nights in 1990 was “Full House.” So, Correlli directed all three of the lesser sitcoms that night. (Defined by ratings, I mean.)
    3. I own the regular sized version of that eyeball monster.


  2. You’ve alluded to the fact that you write this blog as much for yourself as anyone else. But for whatever reason, the personal reflection (here and in other posts) hits home with me.

    I was a huge fan of the show growing up, and have fond memories. I’m sure it affected me in my formative years. It probably says something about me that this was my favorite show, not Full House or others in the lineup, since we watched them all (For what it’s worth, the runner up – for me – was Dinosaurs.) I’ve always been fond of comedy duos, especially the straight-man.

    I wonder if Perfect Strangers fans are a distinct breed. Prone to introspection. Then again, the Lindas and the Caseys of the world prove just how different we can be.


    • Man I wish I had more reason to talk about Dinosaurs. I watched a behind-the-scenes clip of Kevin Clash (as Baby Sinclair) improvising in-character about being upset with the director. Even knowing that still couldn’t break the illusion that the characters were real.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Not that it’s relevant to what I’m going to say, but I want to point out that Dave’s viewing experience mirrors my own exactly. Virtual high-five/condolences.

    Alright, so, this post really does make me wonder if I am critically protective of any piece of art myself. (I want to use the phrase “wilful blindness,” but I’m not sure if I can. I doubt Linda consciously rejects negative comments on the grounds that they’re negative; I really do believe that in her mind she seems them as invalid.)

    Certainly, without any question, there is bad art that I love. Bad art that I adore. Bad art that I return to time and again, finding things to genuinely appreciate. I’m not saying Perfect Strangers is bad — it’s more mediocre with flashes of both greatness and horribleness sprinkled throughout — but I am saying that I have a lot of experience enjoying things that are often spoken of in negative tones.

    I can imagine responding to those things. I can imagine questioning the reviewer a bit. I can easily imagine trying to take their criticism on board, to see if I’m picking up on positive elements that aren’t actually there. In short, I can imagine engaging, however passively, with those negative comments.

    Even more easily, I can imagine ignoring them completely.

    I can’t imagine dismissing them with such fierce protectiveness. Even things that I love. I’ve read plenty of negative things about my favorite novel (Gravity’s Rainbow) and one of my favorite films (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). In many cases, folks just enjoy those things. In other cases, they unquestionably misunderstood them. These things happen, and the latter can be a bit frustrating.

    But I don’t think I’m frustrated because they said unfortunate things about something I like. I think I’m frustrated because a misunderstanding means they didn’t actually get to experience the material the right way. They MIGHT have enjoyed it, but they were focusing on the wrong things. I’m frustrated for them the same way I’m frustrated at the character who goes into the basement of the haunted house. They’re missing obvious clues, and having a worse experience for it. I’m frustrated FOR them.

    Again, though, Linda would probably say the same thing in her own words. She wouldn’t be aware of the nature of her response to criticism. I don’t mean this as insulting in any way; her brain is processing something without active, conscious consideration on her part. It happens.

    I just wonder if that happens with me, as well. Is there a piece of art — good, bad, high, low — that I would unilaterally dismiss all criticism toward? Am I already doing that and not realizing it?

    I mean, I don’t think so, just from the sheer fact that I’ve never immersed myself in any particular fandom and just kind of enjoy things (or not) on my own…but maybe. I wouldn’t know. That’s interesting to me, and it’s going to make me very conscious of the internal response I have to the next negative thing I hear about something I love.

    Will I dismiss the work of the rag mag? Or I will I approach it respectfully, aware that on the other end there’s just another human being who disagrees with me?


    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate this comment, and I agree, and I can relate to it, too. Potentially other positive verbs that aren’t coming to mind right now. I’d like to think Linda does engage in some of your thought processes; after all, not getting it implies a way to get it; and perhaps she gets into that elsewhere on her site. I haven’t read all of it, meaning my presentation of non-fiction may well be unknowingly stepping past non-. There are plenty of things I’m sure I haven’t been able to experience the “right” way, like most rap/hip-hop, Wes Anderson films, and Donald Barthelme’s short stories. I think there’s also a (psychology sidebar) investment aspect to it as well. I in no way want to question her honest love for the show. I think it’s worth mentioning that Linda has invested far more effort into Perfect Strangers than anyone ever has, or will; and threats to the show’s merit will carry more threat to her than other fans.


      • ” In many cases, folks just enjoy those things.”

        Blah. Probably loaded with typos, but this one is most annoying because I meant to say the opposite. In many cases, folks just DON’T enjoy those things.

        In addition, I think you framing it as “threats to the show’s merit” makes clear to me the distinction between whatever she feels and whatever I feel. I don’t believe public opinion (least of all one individual’s opinion) work against the actual merit of a work of art. It can work against its reception or its legacy or its chance at continuation, yes, but those are things that only interest me in a passive, cultural way, if at all.

        If something I love is loved by many, that’s fine. If something I love is loved by hardly anyone…I genuinely don’t see that as any less fine. I don’t see it as a threat to its merit, perhaps because I honestly don’t even care if that particular work HAS merit.

        I think you’re right to pick up on this. It’s important to Linda that Perfect Strangers has merit because, on some level, that justifies her decades’ long hard work keeping the show and information about it alive. (There may be other reasons, of course, but I think that’s the fairest one I’d have the right to single out.) It’s not important to me that anything I love has merit because I love the bad as much as I love the good.

        Perfect Strangers doesn’t have merit as far as I’m concerned. Not overall, at least. The cast often deserves merit. (Mark nearly always deserves merit.) Some of the episode concepts deserve merit. Some of the legitimately funny exchanges deserve merit. But, on the whole, I wouldn’t rush to rescue The Complete Perfect Strangers box set from the apocalypse.

        And yet I still do love it. I don’t feel the need to see it as having merit, so it certainly doesn’t bother me to see its possible merit assaulted.

        Majoring in literature probably helped me with this, because as much as I still love and study the subject, literature majors are largely a tiresome bunch of hollow cynics. No matter what work of poetry or prose you’d like to hold up as a shining example of the form, a large percentage of your classmates will roll their eyes. Everybody hates everything, except the stuff that they don’t hate, which everyone else hates.

        You get used to the things you DO feel have merit being torn down. And that is frustrating. I probably felt to some degree what Linda feels reading negative reviews of “Cousin This.” But you also learn two things quickly: that criticism is often valid to hear, and helps you understand both as a reader and as a writer the different filters through which others interpret the same works; and that criticism doesn’t and shouldn’t affect the love you have for something.

        The Catcher in the Rye is no less impactful to me today than it was before one of my classmates pissed all over it during a lecture. And Ghostbusters ’16 wouldn’t be more impactful to me today if I heard hordes of people gushing about how clever it was.

        I don’t want this to turn into a loose essay…I just wanted you to know that your blog about cousins porking each other made me think through this in a way I otherwise wouldn’t have.

        Now go review The Gazebo.


  4. Years later, when Bronson gave his infamous candid interview with the AV Club where he called out Tom Cruise’s homophobia and Denzel Washington’s horrid on-set behavior he had this to say about his time on Perfect Strangers (note he can’t be bothered to mention Rebecca Arthur’s name):

    “It’s really just like a relationship. At the start, you’re so in love and you can’t believe it, and then you settle down and it’s comfy, and then you start to get bored, and then you get resentful, and I think at the very end, it was pretty bad. Never ever between Mark and I. Our curve was that we started out bickering about everything because we were being territorial, and then we realized over the course of time that we very dearly did care about each other, and that we did dearly love each other, and that was interesting. We eventually had a deep bond. And then toward the end of the show, you know, just being really brittle… The girl that played my girlfriend came in one day and was in a snotty mood, and I stopped and said, ‘You can get a stand-in to rehearse her scenes, and she can come in later.’ I regret that, but there was crap like that.”

    She was a series regular and he’s just dismissing her from the set outright? That’s pretty egregious for any sitcom star, no matter how famous.


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