Tuesday, March 10, 2009

we love Lucy

My daughter has fallen in love with I Love Lucy and I am getting to enjoy all the old shows all over again. It's been a long time since I've seen any of these, and for the most part they still hold up well. Slapstick and people acting silly never really goes out of style. But what was Lucy's strength and what was constantly imitated afterward, was the domestic set-up, the best friends that are always around, and the deep, squabbling relationship that develops between the four main characters. Basically, family.

Everyone remembers Lucy at the chocolate factory, or trying to sell VitaMeataVegamin, or the constant attempts to get into show business via Ricky's night club and beyond. What I had forgotten was how deeply ingrained that flat little world was in my consciousness. Watching the antics in the Ricardos' apartment I realize that really remember it - how it looks, where the bathroom must be, etc. It was a real place to me in childhood. Some of Lucy's classic moments - like when she is forced to tell the truth and all her girlfriends gang up on her and ask all the forbidden questions - how old are you? how much do you weigh? etc., etc., is still a delight to watch, especially as she answers each question and then proceeds to tell each gal what she can't stand about them. Freedom!




After viewing a few episodes that is a new perspective for me about Lucy. She is irrepressible, to the point of dementia and annoyance at times, admittedly, but she has a will that won't be stopped. She is a woman living in the 1950s wearing pants and going where she wants, when she wants, no matter what her Latino husband has to say about it. Of course most of the situations were created for maximum comic effect, but the message is still clear - if Lucy wants to get into the show, get a job, get a new apartment - she will find a way.



The New York location also fed into my childhood desire to get to that city as soon as I could, because that's where everything happens, right? Between Lucy, The Odd Couple and Barney Miller, I was convinced I had it all covered where the big city was concerned. I wonder now, however, if there could be a Mrs. Trumbull in my building, because there might be the occasional night I might want to hit a modern-day Tropicana...

Of course the show is peppered with loads of things that would never be on television today. Lucy and Ricky are constantly smoking. They fight and threaten physical violence. Somehow I don't find these factors too troubling. It's a time capsule. And the music Desi sings and plays is great. Times and mores change, not always for the better. There is something about how the Ricardos and the Mertzes spend their days that I would like to tap into in some way in our modern lives. I don't expect to be donning a Superman outfit for the kid's next birthday, or "soaking up local color" at an Italian winery, but upping the level of silliness is always a good thing. In the meantime, it is fun to watch Lucy and Ethel sing "Friendship" while they tear each other's matching ball gowns apart. It's even more fun watching my daughter giggle while she watches.

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