Yesterday, I had a little rendez-vous with the 1950s again. I watched an episode of the I love Lucy show and it was hilarious. The I love Lucy show is a sitcom of the 50s starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. The comedy serie is about Lucy Ricardo and her husband Ricky Ricardo. In every episode you can get a 25 minute peek in their marriage and (fictional) life. Thanks to our social media platform nowadays, that’s 25 minutes per episode – without ads. Thank you Youtube. Once again you make it possible to watch one (or two) season(s) in one night.
The I love Lucy show was very popular in the 1950s. There were some pretty good reasons for that. First of all, those two love birds were actually married in real life. Back to 1940s, when it all began. In 1940, Lucille Ball met Cuban singer Desi Arnaz. They fell in love got married and lived happily ever after. Until 1942. Arnaz went into the army and had an episode of unfaithfulness. Lucille filed for a divorce. However, after a while she changed her mind about divorcing Arnaz. Their story wasn’t finished yet.
Via Rainy day recess
Most popular comedy show of the 1950s: the I Love Lucy show
In 1948, Lucille got the opportunity to work for the radio. Her radio show became a success. In fact, it was so succesful that CBS asked her to make a television version out of it. Lucille agreed under the following condition: she would only do it if she could work with her husband. She saw this as a way to save her marriage with Desi Arnaz. CBS agreed and the I Love Lucy show was born. Lucille and Desi set up their own production company: Desilu Productions. You’ve probably never heard of it. However, it produced some hitseries that we still talk about nowadays. (Star Trek anyone?). At first, CBS wasn’t really impressed when they saw a pilot episode of the I love Lucy show. However, Lucy and Desi Arnaz went on a Vaudeville theatershow tour with their concept. It was a huge success and the rest is history…
Success recipe: innovation and real audience
What also contributed to the success was the (for that time period) innovative concept of the show. For example: the I Love Lucy show used a real audience. So the laughing that you hear on the background was live. This gave the sitcom a more authentic and literally, more realistic look and feel compared to other sitcoms in the 1950s. Also Lucy insisted that the show should be filmed in Hollywood. She got what she wanted. Desi Arnaz introduced the concept of filming with three cameras. This was quite revolutionary for the 1950s, because no one had done that before. It led to sharper pictures in comparison to other sitcoms. Nowadays it’s standard to use three cameras when filming a sitcom.
Last but not least, Lucy was a progressive woman. For example: while showing your pregnancy on television is now totally normal, it was quite the opposite in the 1950s. Lucille Ball was one of the first women who appeared on television while being pregnant, although she was forbidden to say “pregnant”. She was only allowed to say “I am expecting”. Imagine that. She was also definitely not your typical housewife. No, she was a housewife with ambition and balls. that’s the main focus of the show and probably also why Desi and Lucille were a good match, on and offscreen. The I Love Lucy show ran from 1951 until 1957. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz eventually got divorced a few years later in 1960. However, they remained good friends for the rest of their life.
via Go Lucille Ball
via Susan Wright
Best sitcom of all time
Until this day the I Love Lucy show is often referred to as one of the best sitcoms of all time. As the curious creature that I am, I wanted to know if I agreed with this verdict. So I started watching. After just one episode, I totally got it. I understand why this serie was so popular then and is still being acknowledged as one of the best sitcoms. First of all: even if you’re born in the 80s, 90s or later you will see a lot of the issues that are also alive and kicking in the present. Same issues, (and often same standards) when it comes to relationships, marriage, family, friends, beauty and let’s not forget food. Which actually verifies that some things will never change, despite of smarter than smart phones or drones or whatever technology innovations are ahead of us.
Keep those (vintage) pranks coming
When it comes to humor this sitcom was also ahead of its times. It shows you the ups and downs of daily married life in a very humorous setting. Lucille Ball was a perfect cast for this serie. She is just hilarious. Also the real life chemistry between Lucille and Arnaz is also nicely transferred to their fictional television world. However, a lot of dialogues were based on their real life marriage. They both were temperamental, stubborn and for those reasons…well matched. The way Lucy pulls a prank on her husband and he reacts with another prank… Humor is key! During the first episode, I was sitting and watching it with a keep-those-pranks-coming attitude. Above all, when you watch the serie, you’ll get sympathy for them. Simply because they seem like people who you would want to have around. Also Lucille plays a really assertive housewife and she always has a plan that gets her in trouble. That’s also when the fun begins…
via Go Lucille Ball
via Go Lucille Ball
So, would I recomment watching this serie? Well, definitely. With a little realistic side note. This sitcom is for you:
– if you’re curious
– if you are openminded and not just limited to nowadays Netflix series
– if you’re not afraid to – temporarily – turn your (television) world in black and white.
– if you have a big imagination and realise that this serie was made for a 1950s public
This is definitely not for you if you believe the opposite of the above described bullets. It’s as simple as that.
Well, I can officially say that I have another serie addiction. I am also still in my Mad Men bubble. So I have to see how that will work out. In one month I’ll probably discover another interesting vintage or retro serie. So little time, so many series to watch…
via Seth Messer