Saturday, October 15, 2011

I (Really) Love Lucy

From a very young age I adored Lucy. I spent many summer nights camped out in front of our living room television watching Nick at Nite and sure, I’m rather fond of Samantha, Jeanie, Mary, Laverne and Shirley, but it will always be Lucy I love. This past Saturday the show celebrated its 60th anniversary, and my feelings toward Lucy as well as Ricky, Ethel and Fred have not wavered.  Why do I love Lucy? There are so many reasons but here are my top 5:

5. She Makes Me Laugh (especially when she’s intoxicated)
Think of the I Love Lucy moments you remember most. Even if you’re not as big of a fan as I am, I’m sure you remember those moments because they made you laugh. And who doesn’t love to laugh?

I don’t know why I don’t turn to Lucy more often on dim or dawnsy* days, because I know that if I watch Lucy Does a TV Commercial (Vitametavegamin), my favorite episode, my day will be brighter in 22 minutes or less.

4. Her Family Reminds Me of Mine
How lucky was Little Ricky to grow up with such fun parents? Think about it: your mom is hilarious and never boring, plus your dad is always singing, playing the bongos and acting out little skits. That’s his job. Now, my father was never a Cuban band leader, but the stage has always been a hobby of his in one form or another.

When I was younger he’d perform in local theater productions and talent shows, playing the lead in Arsenic and Old Lace as well as Harvey. He asked Who’s On First and directed my brother and cousins in Monty Python skits. My mother didn’t exactly play the part of Lucy, though. She never really expressed a desire to “be in the show” (secretly, that was kind of my role). However, there was one act she and dad perform together that Lucy and Ricky could’ve definitely pulled off. A song number titled “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian” in which my father portrays a fashionably challenged Hawaiian tourist and my mother, a hula girl. Classic Lucy, no?

3. She’s a Fun Friend
It’s very easy to argue that in the friendship between Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz, Ethel was the better friend. She was the one who would first attempt to discourage Lucy’s crazy schemes, but then later show her support. She consistently stood up for Lucy no matter how many times her best friend got them in trouble.

So why does Ethel continue to go along with Lucy’s zany ideas? I think it’s because she always has fun. Think of what Ethel’s life would be like without Lucy… kind of boring, right? I think the bond Lucy and Ethel share is the perfect balance between fun and practical. These are two middle-aged women having the time of their lives together without their husbands, all thanks to Lucy herself. Afterall, I believe it was Lucy who insisted the Mertzes join the Ricardos in Hollywood, an experience Ethel probably wouldn't have had if it weren't for her best friend.

2. She Never Gives Up
Lucy Ricardo had a dream. She wanted so desperately to be a star that almost every week she planned and carried out some zany scheme that she believed would make her famous. Instead, hilarity ensues. She would do anything to be in “the show.” And I mean anything… if you remember, she once kidnapped and tied up a girl just to be in one of Ricky’s routines.

Did Lucy Ricardo have talent? No, not really except for an unintentional knack for physical comedy. She could hardly carry a tune, couldn’t dance ballet and only knew one song on the saxophone, but she never let that stop her. Embarrassment didn’t stop her either. Would you want back on stage after falling down a flight of stairs wearing a Vegas Showgirl-style headdress? Yeah, me neither. But Lucy did, and you have to admire that level of determination.
1. She's an Inspiration
Traditionally when we think of a woman in the 1950s we see a housewife. The images of a 1950s woman typically show her wearing an apron and pearls cooking or cleaning. For some, this is the dream and while Lucy Ricardo was a housewife she did dream of something more. I think Lucille Ball did too.

Not only did Lucille star in I Love Lucy and several B movies before that, she also co-founded the Desilu production company with then husband Desi Arnaz (Ricky). In 1960 she became the president of the company, and thus the first woman to head a major studio, proving she was so much more than a pretty face. Although she did modeling in her younger days, when we think of Lucille Ball we remember her more for her talents than her appearance (okay, yeah we do remember her red hair). She was smart and witty; a woman who showed many girls (like me) that it's okay to want and strive for more.

*DAWNSY: a word Lucy's mother created for when you're not sick, but you just feel "blah."

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