In a number of ways, I Love Lucy was a successful effort of innovating the art and craft of TV shows back in the 1950s. Two of the most quoted merits of the show are the fact it was the first to be shot in front of a live audience. Also, it brought unprecedented attention to a female central character.
To state the obvious, while 6 decades later I Love Lucy seems a bit outdated, it remains a point of reference in the history of American TV shows. The nostalgic will always keep this memorable show close to their hearts. But what about first time viewers, let’s say the young, brought up with a different type of entertainment?
I Love Lucy is about family and about personal efforts to make it through in life. Too gloomy to actually reflect the reality of the show, you might think. It sounds more like a drama, if you put it that way.
But in truth, this is the underlying narrative. Of course, to giggle, laugh, make fun, clever jokes or downright go crazy enjoying the ride of making your own way through life, as Lucy Ricardo does, is what enlivens the show. It’s what turns the concept into a comedy.
Unquestionably, 1950s viewers laughed when they were supposed to laugh, they genuinely loved the show (stores would close earlier when the show aired). Which is not surprising at all, since viewers would embrace not only the traditional battery of values, but also the novelties put forward by the show.
My personal belief is I Love Lucy can nowadays only draw the attention of the at least mildly astute viewer who can tell between what’s dashing and high-spirited in a woman and what it simply distasteful, hysterical and cheap.
So, what does it take to love the 1950s show in our time? It took me some patience, I admit, but once I got to the hang of it, I found it quite addictive. In so many words, you have to educate yourself into enjoying I Love Lucy: en effort I strongly believe is worth making.