Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why I love Lucy  

One of my favorite shows in the entire world is I Love Lucy. I own four seasons of it on DVD and I can easily watch every episode over and over again. Even though the humor is almost 60 years old, it still makes me laugh harder than most modern sitcoms do. But aside from the witty dialogue, I love I Love Lucy because I think it sent a positive message to women of its time. In a decade when many women felt obliged to stay in the home, when too many housewives felt trapped and depressed, and the glass ceiling was stronger than ever, I Love Lucy proved that women can do more than just cleaning and childcare.

In several episodes, Lucy tries to get into show business, and Ricky is always adamantly against it. Sometimes he tells her she has no talent, or she can't handle the show biz lifestyle, but ultimately, he doesn't want her in show business because he wants her to be nothing more than a wife and a mother. Despite this, Lucy never settles for Ricky's expectations of her. In one episode, they have this exchange:

Lucy: For once, I'm not going to do what you told me!
Ricky: For once? You never do what I told you!
Lucy: So why don't you QUIT tolding me?!

Lucy proved that many women were not happy being confined into a perfect Stepford Wives-like lifestyle that husbands desired. She was never satisfied with housework and childcare. And she was hysterical in everything she did, shattering the old stereotype that women "aren't funny." She was outrageous in every episode, doing things that no other woman dared to do, from shoving chocolates down her shirt, to cross-dressing.

In real life, Lucille Ball herself was a role model for many women, especially when she became the first woman in television to be the head of a production company (Desilu Productions). She was also the first woman to appear pregnant on television when she was actually pregnant.

Still though, the sexist attitudes of the 1950s shines through in many episodes of I Love Lucy. The perfect example of this is the episode called "Equal Rights." In it, Ricky gets sick and tired of Lucy making all the decisions:

Ricky: We're going to run this house like we do in Cuba; where the man is the master and the woman does what she's told.
Lucy: I don't know how you treat your women in Cuba but this is the United States and I have my rights!
Ricky: I am the first one to agree that women should have all the rights they want. As long as they stay in their place.

Lucy and Ethel then demand that they receive equal rights, with Lucy saying: "From now on, everything is equal. We want to be treated exactly as if we were men." Of course, Ricky and Fred can't honor this request. Instead, they decide to act like big jerks, doing things such as throwing Lucy and Ethel's coats on the ground instead of helping them put them on, and almost knocking their wives over while trying to get out the door because Ricky and Fred insist on going first. When they go out to dinner, Ricky and Fred immediately sit in the chairs the waiter pulls out for their wives, and when Lucy says, "I dropped my purse dear, can you see it there?" Ricky responds "Yeah, it's right there by my foot" and does nothing. The scene climaxes when Ricky and Fred begin to shave their faces at the table.

To Ricky and Fred, "equal rights" doesn't mean shit. Luckily, at the end of the episode, Lucy and Ethel get sweet, sweet revenge on the boys, who finally agree to give them equal rights.

And that's why I love Lucy. She challenged gender norms, shattered stereotypes, achieved many "firsts" for women, and always got even when the husbands were being ignorant jerks. Lucille Ball has always, and will always, be my idol.

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7 comments: to “ Why I love Lucy

  • September 1, 2008 at 8:28 AM  

    She was an awesome lady! I just sketched her yesterday out of my head...funny I should come here and see this blog post!

  • September 1, 2008 at 12:16 PM  

    I Love Lucy is one of my all-time favorite shows! I'm watching a mini-marathon on TV Land right now.

    We discussed I Love Lucy, and Lucille Ball in a class I took once and came to the same conclusion you did- Lucy's aspirations were often crushed by Ricky, but she always got the last laugh.

  • January 6, 2011 at 11:36 AM  

    Excellent way to redact a blog, I really was enjoyed the text since the fist paragraph and you know what? I think you must try in other job, I mean, maybe a newspaper or magazine... just try on it and you'll see the change because I really think you're good doing this reporter job.

  • May 30, 2011 at 7:44 AM  

    I love the show, but it's so awfully sexist. I don't see it as liberating for women as much as you do; I always get the impression the point of the show is to make women who want to be equal look stupid and childish. Still, the show does stay fresh no matter how much time passes!

  • September 12, 2011 at 6:33 PM  

    would It be a blu-ray version of the show?

  • May 9, 2012 at 6:16 AM  

    Lucy played an average woman in the 1950s, and was often subservient to Ricky's authority.

    But in actuality, Lucille Ball was a VERY able business woman and broke barriers by being such a powerhouse entity in entertainment and business.

    I Love Lucy is a wonderful display of how humans can be so petty. But with such quality humor overlain on it, you're able to take subjects that cause anger, resentment and dissension amongst people; it dispels their grip on our society.

    Laughter dispels so much.

  • August 6, 2018 at 8:28 PM  

    I agree Lucy and the show was/is liberating. Of course there were sexist attitudes. That's the backdrop just like it is today. But in the end, Lucy won more than she lost in the show and in real life.
    The show is named after her, not Desi. She is the star, the protagonist. This in and of itself is liberating. Ricky, Desi and the others learn a lot from Lucy. Whether she wins or loses each goal of hers, she still remains the center of attention, and she is relentless in her pursuit. Sexism doesn't often win in the show any way you slice it. This is progress, and we need to see it this way.