Although I Love Lucy did portray the ideals and societal norms of the 50’s, there are also portrayals of a more modern day family. One example of a similarity between how the family is portrayed in I Love Lucy and families today would be their portrayal of exogamy. Having Lucy and Ricky being in an interethnic relationship, and being married out of their particular social group, definitely began to push the boundaries for its time. When Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz brought the idea of their show to CBS, they automatically turned it down because CBS believed Desi to be “too ethnic”. However, with Lucille and Desi performing some vaudeville acts to gain people’s support, CBS decided to go ahead with the show. Lucy and Ricky portraying an interethnic relationship, as they had in real life, was the first to do this in its time. This definitely shows what more modern day marriages are like with the United States being a “melting pot” of all different races and ethnicities. Even though in the 50’s people may have still been a little skeptical at the belief of an interethnic marriage, watching I Love Lucy, which millions did, may have shown viewers that this is now becoming the norm and that there is nothing wrong with being married with someone out of your own social group.
As of pushing the boundaries with gender, it is clear that it may not be as obvious as Lucy and Ricky’s exogamous relationship, but in many people’s opinions, it is still present. As feminist Anne Andes puts it, “Lucy is ultimately UNRULEABLE! …No she does not break the rules to make a feminist statement…But in her own rebellious way, she proves that women can break the molds within which their world tries to cast them...” (2007, para. 3). Therefore, even if people may not think that it is intentional, watching Lucy try to break free from her homemaker life, could definitely impact the viewers. Yes, Lucy is usually put back into her place, but occasionally she does get what she wants, and the fact that she is “disobeying” her husband, may have influenced women to do the same. With the amount of viewers, “40,000,000 regularly”, watching I Love Lucy, it would be hard to believe that no one was impacted by Lucy’s rebellious ways (Pan, n.d. para. 2). It is clear that the media impacts viewers, so women must have at least began to question their place in the family and why things were the way they were. Again, if Lucy was a happy housewife, like ads at the time always portrayed wives in the 50’s as being, why would Lucy, living in the same era, be constantly trying to escape it? An article by Wendy Pan explains that “these issues were very real to women in the post war 1950's and were clearly reflected in Lucy's continuous rebelliousness to become part of her husband's world” (n.d., para. 4). Pan explains that the show was depicting reality, just as how Lucy and Ricky’s exogamous marriage was. Therefore, this was pushing the boundaries of its time because reality in television was usually and for the most part nonexistant. Although I Love Lucy on the surface makes light of the issues of reality, and may cover them up with comedy, they were touching upon them nonetheless and are still noticeable.
Another example of I Love Lucy pushing the boundaries in the media would be when Lucy became pregnant. No one had ever brought up pregnancies on television because it was too risqué with its association to sex. However, because Lucille Ball was pregnant in reality, and with the writers explaining to CBS that the show should portray real-life situations, it was allowed. The cast had to actually say that Lucy was “expecting”, as mentioned in a previous post, but the fact that they even brought up the fact that woman can and do get pregnant, especially in this case with a multi-ethnic child, was a huge step in portraying what real families are actually going through. The night Lucille Ball actually gave birth to her son, Desi Jr., was the same night that Lucy Ricardo had her son, Ricky Jr. This was completely intentional and the viewers were clearly ecstatic. There were a total of 54 million people tuned in to watch Lucy’s pregnancy on January 19, 1953, which was more than the viewers who tuned in for President Eisenhower’s inauguration on January 20, 1953 (I Love Lucy, para. 3; Leiban, n.d., para. 6).
Andes, Anna. (2007, May 30). Online Transactions. Message posted to http://vergingwriter.blogspot.com/2007/05/lucy-accidental-feminist.html
I Love Lucy, Retrieved October 20, 2009, from http://www.fiftiesweb.com/i-love-lucy.htm
Leiban, Nina. (n.d.) BALL, LUCILLE: U.S. Actor/Comedienne. Retrieved October 20, 2009, from http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=balllucille
Pan, Wendy. (n.d.). I Love Lucy History Goes on Making History. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://ezinearticles.com/?I-Love-Lucy-History-Goes-on-Making-History&id=1525551
Some Questions to Think About:
In general, how do you feel about this information?
Do you agree with the idea of I Love Lucy pushing the boundaries? Why or why not?
What do you think about the fact that more people watched Lucy's birth to Little Ricky than Eisenhower’s inauguration?