I Love Lucy

I Love Lucy (1951-1957) was one of the very first television shows to capture the imagination of American television viewers. Unlike many later sitcoms, the show appealed to both male and female audiences, perhaps reflecting the fact that most of the episodes were written by both a man and a women. [1] The show featured real life husband and wife, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, as newlyweds Lucky and Ricky Ricardo. A typical episode revolved around Lucy and her downstairs neighbour Ethel concocting some madcap scheme which is inevitably foiled by Ricky and Ethel’s husband Fred. Loosely based on Lucille and Desi’s vaudeville act, the show featured lots of physical comedy and slapstick skits. [2]


The show broke many boundaries, including being the first show to be filmed on high-quality film in front of a live audience. Previously, television shows were more like filmed plays, recorded live in one take on cheap film. It also was the first show to show a pregnant actress portraying a pregnant woman. To give some idea of how groundbreaking this was at the time, the word “pregnancy” was seen as too controversial so Lucy was referred to as “expecting.” The show’s producers, including Arnaz, were so concerned that the storyline would be perceived as offensive by viewers that they previewed the first episode, “Lucy is Enciente,” to a Rabbi, a Presbyterian reverend, and the head of the Catholic Legion of Decency. The three were asked if there was ”anything objectionable” about the episode to which they replied, in unison, “what’s questionable about having a baby?” [3]. 


Schuyler, Sarah. 1995. “Confessions of a Sitcom Junkie.” Pp. 476-478 in Gender, race and class in media: A text-reader, edited by Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.


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