When it had been initially broadcast in 1951, I love Lucy was just like nothing else on tv. The sitcom, starring the real life married couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, followed Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s day-to-day life in their comfortable New York apartment. The 2 interacted with the occasional guest star, but the majority of their story lines centered on their landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance). The Ricardos frequently got into trouble, usually because of Lucy’s antics – she spent beyond her means and often attempted to enter into show business to disastrous effect, but they always managed to resolve things by the end of each 25 minute episode. The series was genuinely funny and groundbreaking, but probably the greatest appeal of I love Lucy was the Lucy Ricky relationship, which was the reason it was such a shock when Arnaz and Ball divorced after the show ended.
The fact that the Ricardos were released on Amazon Prime Video on December 21 suggests that the relationship may have been separating from the start of the show. The film follows Ball (Nicole Kidman) and Arnaz (Javier Bardem) over a single production week of I love Lucy. Although viewers occasionally get a glimpse of Ball and Arnaz’s past (Arnaz’s terminally flirtatious personality, Ball’s struggling film career, their different levels of fame), Being the Ricardos breaks the comprehensive biopic norm and mainly focuses on the couple’s relationship at the height of I love Lucy’s success. Set against the creation of “Fred and Ethel Fight” of the first season, the two battle Ball’s alleged Communist Party involvement, Arnaz’s infidelity and whether to write a pregnancy into the show.
In spite of the behind the scenes drama, I love Lucy remained a top rated show for all 6 seasons and syndication still attracts around 40 million viewers annually (based on the official Television Academy website). We have dealt with the 6 essential episodes of I love Lucy, whether you want to see the Ricardos again or meet them for the very first time.
“Fred and Ethel Fight” (Season 1, Episode 22)
Fred and Ethel argue the majority of the time, but Lucy is left to pick up the pieces after a particularly nasty fight. She devises a strategy to reunite the couple with Ricky at a small dinner party in her apartment. The Mertzes tend to be much less than pleased and spend the night elbowing and shoving one another before settling down. The argument leads to a fight between Ricky and Lucy, who split up for the night. The next day, both Ricardos develop strategies to get the other back, including a fake accident on Lucy s part along with a fake fire at Ricky’s end. The episode essentially shows that, in spite of their disagreements, the Ricardos are worse apart than they’re together.
“Lucy Does a TV Commercial” (Season 1, Episode 30)
When Ricky assigns an actress to a commercial, Lucy is determined to prove she is able to do the job. In spite of Ricky’s protests and attempts to employ someone else, she manages to get the job without even realizing what she is advertising. Vitameatavegamin, a meat and vegetable vitamin supplement with 23 percent alcohol, tastes bad enough that Lucy must do a number of practice takes in rehearsal. She’s drunk by the time the live performance starts, a Saturday night variety hosted by Ricky, and has to be taken offstage when she interrupts Ricky mid song.