If you don’t remember ABC’s TV series Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-83), you’re not alone. This spin-off of the more successful Happy Days, where young lovers Joanie and Chachi moved to Chicago to pursue their music career, died quickly after being pounced in the ratings by another new show entitled The A-Team. But to this day, people still believe the program was not only a huge success in South Korea, but the highest-rated American TV series to ever air on Korean television.
The only problem is all of this is completely untrue. “But are you sure?” Some of you are asking. “I’ve seen the show’s creator Garry Marshall and star Scott Baio say in multiple interviews that this was true. In fact, I saw Baio tell the Korea story just last year when he was promoting his reality show.” Well, the fact is even Baio and Marshall fell victim to an urban myth.
This all started when the American media reported that the word “Chachi” means “penis” in Korean. Therefore, the show’s Korean title became Joanie Loves Chachi. But unfortunately, Chachi does not mean penis in Korean. It means nothing in Korean because there’s no such word in the language. However, the similar sounding word jaji does mean penis, which is where the rumors most likely originated, but as a joke. Does anyone think Korean TV censors of the time, who barely allowed a chaste kiss to pass, would be so stupid or open-minded to allow a show to be called Joanie Loves Penis?
Not only that but Joanie Loves Chachi never even aired on regular Korean television. It only ran on the American Forces Korean Network in its original English-language version so it would have been impossible for the program to reach the status of most popular American series in Korea with or without the penis.
Still I can see why Joanie Loves Penis would make for more interesting press. As one of the characters says in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” And knowing what we know about Scott Baio’s sex life, it’s also quite possible that Joanie might just have loved penis after all.