Friday, December 31, 2010

I Love Lucy

For Christmas, I bought my six-year-old step-daughter Season 2 of "I Love Lucy." She had previously seen the video below on YouTube. She has a terrific belly laugh, and this video brought it out full force. Lucille Ball and her companions from the 1952 season on DVD have provoked similar results.

As 2010 ends, hooray for Lucy. Hooray for laughter. Hooray for strong women.

Watching this 58-year-old sit-com, one cannot help but reflect on what has changed and what hasn't. The social gender roles are significantly out of date and the "situations" for the comedy reflect that, but what a powerhouse Lucy is. She is set-up perpetually to work herself out of problems. She is set-up perpetually to desire more from her husband ("Give her a chance, Ricky," Fred and Ethel say. "Yeah," Lucy says. "Give me a chance").

Within the confines of her environment, she comes out time and again a winner. My six-year-old's eyes light up, her belly shakes, her toes wiggle. This Lucy, she doesn't take no for an answer. She goes for it. She has a hunky husband who adores her (even as he misunderstands and often marginalizes her). My six-year-old sees that ("I don't like Ricky," she said, immediately, after watching a couple of episodes).

But what she sees more, I think, is Lucy fighting back. With laughter. With zaniness. With unbridled determination.

What I see is, wow, what a great comedienne. I see Chaplin's tramp in her physical comedy. Her range - verbal delivery, timing, expressiveness - is astonishing. The writing on the show is sharp, timeless.

The situation below is from an episode called "Job Switching." The men challenge the women to "make the living," as Ricky says. In turn, the men need to look after the house. Both fail in these tasks, and the episode ends with a return to the status quo. It was the 1950s, after all, and that status quo would change.

That status quo isn't anything to be nostalgic about, but the fact that "I Love Lucy" can rock a six-year-old girl's world in 2010 is curious to me. What are the contemporary equivalents? Miley Cyrus? Dora? Marge Simpson?

Ooops, I did it again. I'm trying to end the year on an up note.

Yay, Lucy!

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