One of the most successful television shows in the history of America is the hit sitcom “I Love Lucy.” The show first broadcasted on October 15th, 1951 on CBS. The significance of the show is that it illustrates many of the forces and trends that shaped television in the 1950’s (1950's Media: "I Love Lucy”). The show was rated as the number 2 show out of the top 50 greatest television shows of all time. “I Love Lucy” stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.
Lucille Ball was born on August 6, 1911 in Jamestown New York (Ball 9). Her first performance that put her on the map was a role she had in the play Dream Girl, by Elmer Rice (Sanders 9). She didn’t want the part at first, but ended up taking it and flourished from there. In 1940, Lucille Ball fell in love and eloped with Desi Arnaz.
Desi Arnaz was born on March 2, 1917 in Santiago de Cuba. His real name is Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha III (Arnaz 10). When he was a young boy, Desi’s father was sent to jail for six months on the grounds that he had been involved in the 1933 revolution led by Fulgencio Batista. During this time his family was stripped of its wealth and power. Once he was released, the family went to Miami, Florida to find refuge (Arnaz 12). In 1940 he went to Hollywood and played a role in the movie version of the musical Too Many Girls. It was while they were working on this movie that he and Lucille first met.
“I Love Lucy” originated from a radio show Lucille did called “My Favorite Husband.” She did the show with a man named Richard Denning, and even though Denning was excited to play the part of her husband in the actual television show, Lucille wanted her actual husband Desi to do it with her. This, along with other conflicts caused controversy.
In the 1950’s, to have a female lead character was unheard of. For the lead character to be a female, funny, and attractive wasn’t only unheard of, but simply out of this world for society in the 1950’s. It just wasn’t normal. To add on top of that abnormality, the male lead was an urban Latino with an extremely thick accent (Poniewozik 79). This is what stirred up producers and viewers for the television show. It was a change. A change in what people were used to seeing on television. This is one of the reasons that “I Love Lucy” was popular. The show was centered on a mixed racial marriage. Again, this wasn’t the typical view of marriage in the 1950’s. It made people think more about reality, and that not everything is as what is most popular. Producers were worried that the public wouldn’t like the idea of this mixed marriage. Eventually, after deliberation, they were able to make it work and Desi became part of the cast of the new hit sitcom (Poniewozik 79). “I Love Lucy” kicked off on Monday night, 15 October 1951 ("1950's Media: "I Love Lucy”). The show was a CBS television production. Millions of people watched the show and enjoyed its “its comic depiction of marital life” (1950's Media: "I Love Lucy”). The show is about Lucy Ricardo and her husband Ricky Ricardo. Lucy tends to get herself into a lot of trouble with her husband Ricky and those around her. Throughout the episodes, Lucy attempts to achieve fame through her husband in show business. She begs him to let her perform with him, but he resists due to her lack of talent. Lucy goes through countless episodes of trying and failing. Ricky Ricardo is the singer and bandleader of a Cuban Jazz group. He has a lot to put up with, with his wife constantly trying to join him in show business. One of the key things about the show is how Ricky responds when he’s is pushed over the edge. He sets off ranting in Spanish. This is another one of the trends that is shown through. People aren’t used to seeing much, other than Americans on television, and when there is a Hispanic character, ranting on in a language other people don’t really follow, it catches the eye of the viewers. It makes them...
Cited: "1950 's Media: " I Love Lucy"." American Decades. Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli and Richard Layman. Gale Cengage, 1994. eNotes.com. 2006. 25 Sep, 2008
Arnaz, Desi. A Book. New York: Buccaneer Books, Incorporated, 1994. 1-50.
Ball, Lucille. Love Lucy. New York: Berkley, 1997. 1-33.
Poniewozik, James. "17 Shows That Changed TV." Time 170 (2007): 79-82. 2008. EBSCOhost. Academic Search Premier. KU Libraries, Lawrence. 9 Nov. 2008 .
Sanders, Coyne S., and Tom Gilbert. Desilu : The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. New York: Harper Entertainment, 1994. 9-160.
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