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YMMV / I Love Lucy

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  • Adaptation Displacement: While some people do know that I Love Lucy was inspired by Lucille Ball's radio show My Favorite Husband, it can be assumed that few but the most diehard fans have actually listened to that program, and thus don't know just how heavily the television series was drawn from it. Many early I Love Lucy episodes have a corresponding My Favorite Husband episode they were based on, and if you do listen to the latter, you will be surprised at how similar the plots are, down to some lines and jokes having been copied word for word.
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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: CBS initially responded to Lucille Ball's insistence that Desi Arnaz play the husband in her TV show by saying they weren't sure if audiences could believe that a celebrity like Lucy was married to an obscure Cuban bandleader. In response, Lucy and Desi gave a vaudeville tour across the country. The tour became a success, proving to the networks that a TV show of the duo would be huge, and over 60 years later the show is still often lauded as one of the greatest and most important sitcoms of all time.
  • Better on DVD: For years, syndicated reruns would edit the episodes for time, and would lack the animated sponsor messages and bumpers. The DVD and Blu-ray releases restore every episode to their original running time (which, back in the '50s, would often mean 26 minutes per episode, virtually unheard of today) and included the animated bits.
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  • Broken Base: CBS aired colorized versions of the Christmas Episode and "Lucy's Italian Movie" in December 2013. This didn't mark the first attempt to colorize I Love Lucy, but it did prove divisive among viewers: Some liked the fact that the picture looked more natural than that of an early-'90s colorized print of the Christmas episode, and felt the color added to the humor. Others disliked the fact that the picture still looked less natural than the original monochromatic versions, and couldn't stand the mere thought of altering the picture in so drastic a fashion. In any case, the ratings proved high enough for CBS to make an annual tradition — and later, bi-annual tradition — out of colorizing I Love Lucy episodes, and eventually apply similar updates to other black-and-white sitcoms in their library, with The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show getting the same treatment at least once each.
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  • Fridge Horror: Though it is Played for Laughs, in "The Amateur Hour" the twin boys Lucy babysits tie her up while playing Cowboys and Indians, fully intending to actually burn her at the stake for real. A call from their mother interrupts them, and when she learns what they've been up to she sternly warns them that their father will spank them both if they burn one more sitter at the stake. It can certainly be disturbing, then, to imagine what happened to their previous babysitters who weren't as lucky as Lucy!
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Any episode that involves a joke about philandering, or Lucy and Ricky's marriage being in trouble, or both.
    • In "The Audition", Ricky asks Lucy to deliver his will to the lawyer's office downtown. She is unsettled by this, but he assures her that he just wants things to be taken care of when he "goes". After she tearfully pleads with him (in a comical fashion) not to go, he responds that we all have to go sometime "unless you know something the rest of us dun't." This can already be sad to watch with the knowledge that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz have now both passed on, but then Ricky tells Lucy he's got her will too and she quips "What are you trying to do - shove me ahead of you in line?" In Real Life, she did end up dying after he did, so it turns out she was right about (and kept) her place in line.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Watching the episodes 'Lucy Meets Charles Boyer' and 'Lucy and Superman' are particularly saddening, knowing both Boyer and Reeves ended their own lives.
    • From 1951-1954, Phillip Morris cigarettes was the show's only sponsor. Desi Arnaz died of lung cancer at only 69.
    • Watching all the tender moments that Lucy and Ricky shared together can be hard to watch when you learn that Lucille Ball's real life marriage to Desi Arnaz ended in divorce literally the day after filming wrapped on the final episode of The Lucy Desi Comedy Hour.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the episode "Lucy Gets Ricky on the Radio", Lucy says that there are 46 states. Ethel corrects her with the right number at the time the episode was made, 48. Then Lucy responds that she forgot Alaska and Hawaii. That line used to be funny because they weren't states then. Now they are.
  • Hollywood Homely: Downplayed, Ethel, and to a lesser extent Lucy. While both were never referred to as ugly, in fact many times there would be a reference to how attractive the two are (especially Lucy), however when put next to the younger, fancier Marlyin Monroe-esque types that occasionally appeared in Ricky's shows, the two would come off as tacky, out-of-shape and sloppy. This is ironic as both Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance began their careers as models and showgirls.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Urban Legend has it that Vivian Vance (Ethel) was contractually obligated to remain overweight, which was born out of a mock contract that Lucy presented to Vivian strictly as a joke, and which Vivian later read for laughs on The Dinah Shore Show. Ethel's stockier appearance was obtained by dressing Vivian in unflattering costumes and too-small undergarments, not by intentional weight gain on Vance's part (at her insistence, the character's wardrobe and style would become more flattering as the series progressed). Vivian fought against Ethel being too heavy, arguing that if Fred called her a fat old bag if she were really overweight, the scene would fall flat because you'd feel sorry for her; whereas if he called her that when she clearly wasn't fat or ugly, the dissonance of it would instead makes it funny.
  • Hype Backlash: It could be argued that "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" and "Job Switching" apply. They are commonly regarded as being the best episodes of the show, though it's quite possible that the reason is the simple fact that they are so often commemorated with merchandise and highly praised in the media. Other episodes are just as funny (perhaps even more so), yet they're all overshadowed by these two. Even some hilarious portions of "Job Switching" itself involving Ricky and Fred's antics at home don't get the recognition they deserve in comparison to Lucy and Ethel's famous candy factory scene.
  • Informed Flaw: It would oftentimes be stated that along with being Hollywood Tone-Deaf, Lucy was a horrible dancer. Despite this, in many, many instances Lucille Ball demonstrated her real life background as a highly trained and skilled dancer, be it performing at the Tropicana/Club Babalo, waltzing with Van Johnson, tangoing with 6 dozen eggs in her blouse or just perfectly executing difficult comedic blocking.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • From The Young Fans episode: "Keep jiggling, Peggy."
    • "Are you tired, run down, listless? Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular? The answer to all your problems is in this little bottle!"
  • Retroactive Recognition: Actors who appeared on this show early in their careers include Richard Crenna, Bart Braverman and Barbara Eden.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: This show invented the modern sitcom, and every single sitcom that has ever existed since has borrowed something from the lexicon it created, to the point where things that were groundbreaking in the '50s are not even noticable, let alone edgy... unless you are blocked by the Nostalgia Filter. And somewhat ironic for this trope, both the real and sitcom versions of Jerry Seinfeld have proudly noted having NEVER watched an episode of "I Love Lucy" in their lives.
  • Too Good to Last: CBS/Paramount's efforts to release the show on Blu-ray stopped at season two, due to low sales of the first two seasons' expensive sets.
  • Values Dissonance: Being made in The ’50s, this would be a given.
    • In "The Girls Want to Go To A Nightclub," Lucy and Ethel lie that they have dates to make an excuse to go without their husbands. In the twenty-first century, they'd be able to go on their own without needing a date.
    • "Job Switching" has the inciting incident where Ricky tells off Lucy for emptying their shared bank account at the hair salon. He and Fred start complaining about their wives spending their wages; Lucy and Ethel naturally take offense. Women at the time couldn't hold their own bank accounts, but with changing times Lucy could have a separate account and that would have avoided the problem.
    • On that note, at an employment agency, the man helping Lucy and Ethel find jobs doesn't ask for their resumes as they get into a Duck Season, Rabbit Season argument. That might have avoided the candy fiasco if they had shown up with papers for their skills.
    • Having white people play "Indians" in Ricky's show comes up fairly frequently. While more than acceptable in the time it was filmed in, it's known to be an extremely offensive practice today.
    • Much like The Honeymooners, Ricky would occasionally make an empty threat to hit Lucy, which would never be seen today even at that level. Desi Arnaz actually mocked this himself when he hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live and presented a series of "failed concepts" for the show, including one where Ricky was openly physically abusive called "I Loathe Lucy."
    • When miming the concept of "rice" (It Makes Sense in Context) Lucy acts out some Chinese stereotypes that would be considered offensive now.
    • The entirety of "Lucy Gets a Black Eye" would never pass censors of any kind today. The basic plot of the episode: Lucy and Ricky are both excited about a new thriller novel, and, because they can't wait for the other to finish, opt to read it aloud like a play. Unfortunately, Ethel overhears them reciting the lines of a fight scene and thinks they're actually arguing. Ricky then gets overeager and accidentally drops the book; it flies across the room and gives Lucy a black eye. We as the audience know that it's totally innocent, but Ethel is convinced that Ricky deliberately punched his wife and becomes terrified for her. Later, when Ethel comes to get details about what happened and refuses to believe the odd but true incident, a frustrated Lucy concocts "a real juicy story" about Ricky grabbing, punching, and kicking at her, and reenacts the fictional battle, including her cowering in fear and begging for mercy. And this is all Played for Laughs. The audience goes wild at Lucy's antics, but it's genuinely disturbing and realistic to see her whimpering in fear and crying as she describes being brutally beaten by her husband, even she's just pretending.
      • Even Ethel's concerned attitude has problematic elements—while she is genuinely worried about Lucy, she's also clearly excited to hear her gossip about Ricky and eagerly fills in more aggressive details herself. The notion of anyone, let alone someone's best friend, treating domestic abuse of any kind so flippantly is shocking.
      • In the same sequence, Lucy remarks "You know how wild those Cubans are" regarding Ricky's temper, a rather racist notion that, tropes aside, likely wouldn't fly today.
  • Values Resonance: Ricky Ricardo as a Latino character who isn't an offensive stereotype and plays the role of Straight Man. They managed to write him as a character with different traits without erasing or exaggerating his Cuban heritage. Also he and Lucy raise Little Ricky in a household that is bilingual, in a time when Latino students would be punished for speaking Spanish at school. Ball and Arnaz actually had to fight the network a bit to be allowed to play a married couple, despite actually being married.


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