Hands down the most influential sitcoms in history is I Love Lucy. Appearing on CBS, I Love Lucy ran for six seasons, had 180 episodes, won five Emmy Awards, and was the first of its kind to be done in front of a live audience.
The real stars of the show were Lucielle Ball (Lucy), her real-life husband Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo), and their two best friends and neighbors Vivan Vance (Ethel) and William Frawley (Fred). With Lucy and Ricky as the focus, the foursome lived in New York City where Ricky was an entertainer. Wanting to be famous herself, Lucy tried her darndest to be apart of her husband's acts and usually conspired tricks with her BFF Ethel in order to do so. What transpired was fantastic TV in the '50s and even today in 2019.
I Love Lucy still has reruns on TV today and even has DVDs of the show for sale in color. Today we're taking a look at some of the funniest lines that came from I Love Lucy, along with some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the show.
After being snubbed by Ricky and Fred for attending a classy party, Ethel and Lucy are sick and tired of being left out. The pair learn about Phoebe Emerson's Charm School and decide if they should enroll. Lucy, of course, agreed with Ethel that the charm school could work miracles but came off offensive after realizing how much work Ethel would need.
The girls spent all week trying to become classier versions of themselves and in the end, their men thought their look was horrendous. In return, the guys also changed their appearance, which then led to the four of them calling it a tie. It's a classic I Love Lucy game of "who wore it better?".
Ethel and Fred may have been older than Lucy and Ricky but the foursome got along swimmingly. While the men were attached to their spankin' new TV set, the girls were anything but impressed — telling them they were spending too much time in front of the TV.
In real life, Vivian Vance (Ethel) wasn't actually married to William Frawley (Fred) like Lucy was to Desi. Vivian was actually married four times while William was only married once. And as beautiful and loving as Lucy and Desi appeared on TV, they too got divorced after they were done filming.
When watching reruns of I Love Lucy, you'll notice that Lucy and Ricky sleep in two different beds. This was because America was still pretty tame and shy and didn't think it would be virtuous to show a married couple hopping into bed together in front of a live audience.
In the scene above, Ricky walks in on Lucy still laying in bed. "I thought you were going to get up?" Ricky says to his sleepy wife. "I was going to but then I asked myself 'why?'" she said sheepishly. Although TV has changed in terms of what we're "allowed" to see, our love for sleep sure hasn't.
In the first season, we're introduced to an episode called "The Diet." The audience learns that the fab foursome has gained a little bit of weight in recent months and promise to do better. Ethel famously says "I can't help it, eating is my hobby" and she's never been more relatable. Ricky even promises Lucy that she can be an act in his show if she promises to lose 12 pounds. By the end of the episode, Lucy practically staves herself for five days so she can look her best in Ricky's show. She actually did a great job and made Ricky proud... that is until she fainted after the show, was carried away to the hospital for being dehydrated, and they realized she tied up a woman in the closet who was supposed to be the main act!
Is there anything more frustrating than being in a relationship that restricts you from doing the things you really want to do? We find Lucy and Ethel in this predicament quite a few times in her marriage. In the episode "The Girls Want to Go to a Nightclub," we find out it's Ethel and Fred's anniversary.
While the boys wanted to go see the big fight, the girls wanted to be wined and dined at a nightclub. Deciding to go their separate ways, the guys get dates (through Ricky's agency) to keep an eye on Lucy and Ethel. After finding out their men grabbed dates, Lucy makes a deal with the agency to make their dates be them. What transpired was Lucy and Ethel pretending to be someone they weren't just to stick it back to them. This blows up in their face, though, because Ricky and Fred knew it was them all along and they all ended up going to the fights anyway.
One of the most unique parts of I Love Lucy is that Lucy married a Cuban. At the time Lucy and Desi pitched the show, CBS wasn't sure America would buy the fact that these two were actually together in real life. Their love was for real, though, and it paid big time in the show. Some of the best parts in the show is when Ricky is rattling things off in Spanish, leaving Lucy confused and annoyed that he was *probably* talking about her in a different language. In one scene, Ricky is rattling off a few words in Spanish when Lucy says "How dare you!" Knowing she has no clue what he said, he asks her anyway and she says "I don't know, but how dare you!"
In the episode "The Ballet," Lucy finds out Ricky is in desperate need of a ballerina for his show. Always up for stardom, Lucy begins taking ballet lessons to be his perfect girl. She does get the chance to perform but let's just say her routine didn't match up with Ricky's.
You may notice while watching this episode that Lucy actually does have bruises all over her body and those were real — caused by *drum roll, please*: training for ballet!
Lucy decides she wants to write a novel called Real Gone With the Wind. Ethel asks her, "What are you writing about?". "I'm writing about things I know," Lucy retorts back. Giving her honest, best friend sense of humor, Ethel tells her "That won't be a novel, that will be a short story." This classic pairing had all the makings of a BFF movie where they go on the run because they don't need a man. If only that didn't scar America back in the '50s!
Ethel isn't wrong. The best things in life aren't always free and it's comical to bring up. Outside of filming, though, this foursome didn't need to worry much about money. Lucy and Desi were given $2,000 an episode in the beginning. As time went on, they made six-figures per episode, which was unheard of in Old Hollywood for a sitcom.
Is there a line that's more fitting for 2019 than this? In the year of the woman, equality and feminism are on the brain for many North Americans. And although Ethel said this to Fred in jest, it certainly garners some truth. As forthcoming, independent women ahead of their time, something tells us Lucy and Ethel would be proud of women in this day and age.