The Lucy Show: Almost — Just For a Moment — Feminist
As pointed out in Desilu: The Story of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, the first season of The Lucy Show was “far superior to its subsequent five seasons” and was almost — but not quite — groundbreaking. In some ways, it picked up where I Love Lucy left off: the setting was still Connecticut and Lucy was still essentially Lucy. But now she was a widow with two children sharing her house with a divorcee (possibly the first such continuing character on television) with one child.
The two women, who had served together in the WAVES ( U.S. Naval Women’s Reserve), tried to blend their families, attempted to operate home businesses, organized an all-female volunteer fire department, and did the things they would have previously depended on a husband to do, such as installing a television antenna or a shower stall.
Rich possibilities were there but they weren’t fully explored and, after a time, they weren’t explored at all. It probably didn’t help that some wags at the network were calling the program “The Dykes Sans Dick Show.” Ultimately, Lucy and Vivian became two women competing for male attention.
The better episodes in the early seasons can be credited to Desi Arnaz. The book Desilu quotes him: “The property to follow I Love Lucy was based on a book that we bought, Life Without George. It was very carefully considered for many reasons. We didn’t want to copy Lucy, and at the same time, we didn’t want to go too far away from the Lucy character. We all agreed that the fact of these two women trying to raise children, make a living, face plumbing problems, etc., etc., without a man around the house, offered tremendous possibilities. But when I read a script such as ‘Lucy Flies a Helicopter,’ it makes me wonder if anybody ever read the book. If they didn’t, then perhaps it would be wise to have them re-read it, very carefully.”
But it didn’t happen, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was Desi Arnaz being bought out by Lucille Ball and leaving Desilu. Television audiences would have to wait until Kate and Allie (1984-1989) to see the comedic possibilities of this situation explored.
This post is part of Me-TV’s Summer of Classic TV Blogathon, which ends today. Hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association, you can find a complete list of posts in this blogathon at http://classic-tv-blog-assoc.blogspot.com. You can also go to http://metvnetwork.com to learn more about Me-TV and view its summer line-up of classic TV shows.
Photos from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch photo collection.
Tumblr Archive | Ask A Question