Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why I Love Lucy

by Jen AlLee

When I grew up, TV was my constant companion. You may think I'm kidding, or exaggerating, but I'm not. From the moment I woke up till the time I went to bed, the TV was on. I knew what time it was not by looking at the clock, but by what program was on. I watched soap operas with my great grandma, Lawrence Welk with my grandma, and Dark Shadows with my mom. As an only child, TV not only kept me company, it fed my imagination. Television has been a source of entertainment and even inspiration. But I never thought it would save my sanity.

Flash forward to the summer of 1993. My son had just been born, and it should have been the happiest time of my life. But I was plagued by unexplainable bouts of deep sadness. I later learned that I had a mild case of post-partum depression, but at the time, I knew only that I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. And that's when I rediscovered Lucy.

It just so happened that I Love Lucy was being rerun on several different stations at different times of the day. I found that when I sat and watched it, I laughed so much that the blues were chased away, even if only for that half hour. By the end of that summer, I knew every time and every station it was on. And by the end of summer, I needed it less, but enjoyed it more. Lucy was an honest to goodness God-send and got me through a very challenging time in my life. Now, when I catch an episode on TV, I don't remember the depression so much, but I have sweet memories of my baby boy.

There are so many great Lucy episodes, it's hard to pick my favorites. But here are a few that stick out in my mind...

Lucy Makes a TV Commercial - "Hello friends, I'm your Vitameatavegamin girl!" Poor Lucy gets sloshed on a nasty tasty health-concoction that's almost 100% alcohol. Hilarity ensues.

Job Switching - The girls and the guys switch places. Ricky and Fred become house husbands while Lucy and Ethel find jobs. The scene where they can't keep up with a speeding conveyor belt and end up stuffing chocolate in their mouths remains a classic.

The Operetta - This may be my number one favorite. Lucy writes an operetta for her women's club, but post dates the check for the costumes and props. Ricky singing "I am the good Prince Lancelot, I love to sing and dance a lot" is funny enough, but when Lucy continues to sing "I am the queen of the gypsies" while the whole production is being repossessed brings me to laughter-induced tears.

LA at Last - Probably the best of the Hollywood episodes, it's the one where Lucy makes a fool of herself at the Brown Derby in front of Eve Arden and William Holden. Remember the bit where she eats too much spaghetti and Ethel snips it off with a tiny embroidery scissors? And how about when she tries to disguise herself later, and her putty-nose catches on fire? I've read that that was an accident, but rather than stop the take, Lucy kept going and put the fire out by dunking her nose in a cup of coffee. That's thinking on your feet!

How about you? Do you love Lucy?  Or is there another TV show that has a special place in your heart?


  1. Oh my gosh, I am so glad you picked Lucy, Jen. I have to admit the tv was on at my house all the time, too. My grandparents lived with us and it was such a novelty we were all hooked.

    It never changed for my mom and until the day she went into the nursing home, the tv was on as long as someone was not in bed.

    I remember all those Lucy episodes. A while back I caught quite a few consecutive episodes of their move across country to CA. What a hoot!

    By the way - Lucy was born in upstate NY and Jamestown has the Lucy and Desi Museum and an "I Love Lucy" Weekend every year!

    Thanks for reminding me how much I Love Lucy, too.

  2. http://www.lucy-desi.com/

    Here's the link to the museum and it gives festival info, too.

  3. We didn't have a TV at our house until I was 12, I blame my passionate enjoyment of this novelty item, on early childhood deprivation.

    Luckily there are reruns of Lucy on all the time. She was an incredible comedienne. You know it struck me she might not have felt as if what she did really mattered in the grand scheme of things. But what a legacy she left the world. There are a lot worse things to pass on than laughter.

  4. My Mom is one of the biggest Lucy fans on the planet (she also loves Andy Griffith). Thus I've seen all episodes. Weren't there actually three separate Lucy series over the years. We watched a lot of tv, but if there was swearing or any references to s-e-x, the show went off, so it was mostly old re-runs at my house.

    Vitameatavegamin is my all time favorite, but there are so many hysterical episodes. I do love the Price Lancelot line.

    Jennifer, it's really cool the way this show touched your life in such a simple way as laughter.

  5. I do love Lucy! In fact, my best friend and I seem to have a knack for getting into Lucy-like scraps. Of course, I'm Ethel, just following along. She's the one that always says, "Hey, you know what we could do?"

    But isn't that why we Ethels love Lucys? They bring excitement and laughter to our otherwise predictable lives.

  6. Hey D'Ann, I can't picture you as an Ethel. There have been times in my life when I've been the Lucy, dragging someone else into the predicament.

    Jen, thanks for this fun reminder of the wacky, zany, lovable Lucy. I, too, spent a season of depression watching her and being lifted up with the laughter. She was one of a kind, that's for sure.

  7. This is my all-time favorite show! Lucy is one actress I wish I could have met in person. Ahh...great memories!

  8. I Love Lucy is a classic! It's pretty funny that I didn't watch it while growing up, but my daughter (who is now 18) loved it so much that we bought her a couple seasons for a gift one year! Now we pop them in when we need a good laugh!

  9. Deb, same here. I was raised by my mom and grandmother. My great-grandmother also lived with us until she died (which was when I was eight). Growing up surrounded by older women seems to be a contributing factor to non-stop TV watching!

    Ladies, it's so good to see all of you here! Lucy is one of those shows that always makes me smile. (Funny, though, to watch it now and realize what a part of everyday life smoking was back then!)

    One thing I miss on TV today are good sitcoms. The last one I really enjoyed (and still watch on reruns) was Frasier. But then, I watch a lot less TV now than I used to. There are so many books to read and write, you know :+}

  10. Frazier was something special!
    Great writing and casting.

    Yesterday I heard a commentary about the golden age of movies and how the limit of sexuality and graphic violence pushed for stronger story lines and better plotting. The example was It Happened One Night. Ripe with sexual tension. Nowadays, they would have just... well, you know and then were would the story have to go?

  11. I love Lucy, too! I DVR her every chance I get and watch her to help cheer me up and get me through the long winters. A merry heart is good medicine!

  12. I loved Lucy from childhood. Wanted to dress like her, which was crazy since I was growing up in the '60s and '70s, but when she dressed up, I just thought she was so fashionable.

    Loved her madcap ways, and kind of imagined that Ricky somehow gave me insights into my less than talkative Panamanian dad.

    But Lucy kept me company after my first child was born. In the wee hours of the morning, when I cried over a child that wouldn't sleep, I found Law & Order, followed by an hour of I Love Lucy re-runs, that was just enough TV to get baby boy fed and back to sleep before the sun came up.

  13. Oh, I DO love Lucy, and was thrilled that my daughter and I were picked to act out the scene in her show where she and Ethel bungled and laughed and pigged their way through their short-lived chocolates conveyor belt picker job.

    Thanks for the memories, Jen! Great post!!


  14. Jen, this resonated with me on several levels! As an only child whose parents worked nights, daytime TV and books (sometimes at the same time) were my constant companions.
    My mom watched Dark Shadows daily while pregnant with me. We've long assumed that was the reason I've had a lifelong vampire phobia, complete with recurrent nightmares. Well, until Twilight, anyway. : )
    I only got to watch Lucy on occasion, when that channel was coming in. My favorite part of the show was the relationship between Lucy and Ethel. I think everyone woman dreams of having a friendship like that!
    As to being a Lucy or an Ethel... I'm usually a Lucy, though I think I'd rather be an Ethel.

  15. Jen, great post! I also grew up with our black and white tv on for most of the day (often tuned to sports) and loved watching Lucy and her adventures. I also watched a lot of tv when my children were babies - a season in my life when I was exhausted. I remember a time when I regularly tuned in to Joyce Meyer at 4am :-)

  16. We didn't watch Lucy all of the time, but I caught some of the episodes and the one I remember the best is at the chocolate factory although I didn't remember why they were there. I do remember the chocolate covered frozen bananas and trying to eat the evidence, though. LOL

    Great post!

  17. Jen, I LOVE I Love Lucy too! My fav episode was the one with John Wayne. When Lucy tries to cover up her curlers with her handbag. Hilarious! But love all the ones you mentioned too. I also love Dick Van Dyke. And Andy Griffith. Classics.

  18. Patricia, how fun that you have a baby-connection to Lucy, too! I agree about how stylish she was. She had this one outfit that was loungewear, I suppose... a black top with sheer tails that hung down around her black pants like a skirt. I always thought that was so striking.

    Niki, during the time Dark Shadows was on, we lived above a mortuary. Once, my mom took me to the park and I was playing in the sandbox. A lady asked what I was making and I said, "It's a cemetary." The woman was apalled, but my mom laughed. (I'm not really a morbid person... promise!)

  19. Le, so many of those episodes were classic. How about when Lucy wrote a novel and she got an offer from a publisher only to find they wanted to use an excerpt and call it "Don't let this happen to you!"

    Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith were great, too. Oh, and Gilligan's Island. I'll never forget when they did Hamlet - the Musical. So many props and so much clothing for a three hour tour :+}

  20. Hi, a little late in the commenting and reading, but I will weigh in. While I was nursing all my babies, I discovered the Dick Van Dyke Show. Wow. It is so great. I even stayed awake for the 2am feedings when I watched it.

  21. Mary, how cool! Isn't it something how those old comedies played a part during our baby years? Yep, Dick Van Dyke is another great one. Unfortunately, none of the stations in my area reran it... don't know why. We did get the Andy Griffith Show, which was also fun. I always felt a little sad for Barney, though :+}

  22. The humor was so much better then, cleaner, yes, but more clever as well, and intelligent. And, Dick, is the master of the sight gag! Mary, her voice, she had such a boring role, but made it as fun as possible. Did she ever leave the apartment, or stop ironing?

  23. And did she ever not look gorgeous while ironing? You're right about the humor. That's why I enjoyed Frasier. For the most part, it was a very smart comedy and reminiscent of the classics (although there was more sexual humor than you would find from Dick, Andy or Lucy). But anymore, comedy writers seem to be going for the cheap/smutty/disgusting laughs, which I don't find funny. Seriously, what's funny about bodily function jokes? To me, not a thing.


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