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TV History: I Love Lucy

by Christine Becker

This clip was uploaded for an assignment in Prof. Christine Becker's FTT 30461: History of Television class at the University of Notre Dame in Spring 2017. Check the commentary dropdown menu for a student's analysis of the clip.

How Housewives Break the Role of the Patriarchal Role and Domesticity

by Caitlyn Brooks

The clip that I selected it from the 1950’s Television show, “I Love Lucy”. The clip is about Lucy being pregnant and having crazy pregnancy cravings, and her husband, Ricky, going around town to pick it up for her. This episode was aired on Monday January 5,1953 at 9:00 pm on CBS. During this time television was geared toward the home life and the men going to work, and the female or wife staying home and looking after children and cooking. “I Love Lucy” deals with domesticity, patriarchal ideals, and a headstrong female lead character. This clip showcases the marriage between Lucy and Ricky. Throughout this decade of TV women were known to be housewives that clean and do wifely duties while their breadwinner husbands worked. Domesticity entailed the wife cleaning and cooking for their husband and family. In this episode of “I Love Lucy,” Lucy is pregnant, and is seen knitting waiting for her husband to come home and bring the food that she is craving. Douglas states, “They were restricted to low-paying jobs like schoolteacher, beautician, waitress, nurse, and secretary, and were paid less than men for doing exactly the same work” (Douglas 44). The women of the households often did not go to work, and neither did Lucy. Instead she was an aspiring actress in showbiz and was trying to get recognized and become famous. However, she gets pregnant and is currently unable to work on that dream, or any others, and waits for Ricky to come home in this clip. 1950’s television captures the role of the husband and wife, and their relationships across America. “I Love Lucy” is no different because this family is just getting started, and in the clip we are shown Lucy and Ricky’s relationship and how that still displays domestic behaviors that can resonate with younger families and couples. Although Lucy is a housewife, she betrays the common wife duties in her career choice to be in showbiz. According to this clip, Lucy seems to be helpless and cannot go and get herself the food that she is craving without her husband’s help. To the unknowing viewer, this seems like the classic patriarchal relationship between the characters. However, throughout the show “I Love Lucy” Lucy is constantly on a mission to find out information, or do something fun with her best friend Ethel. The classic patriarchal marriage consists of the housewife and the breadwinning husband that goes to work everyday from 9 am to 5 pm. Even though the show “I Love Lucy” pushes the boundaries, it still follows these two key concepts with the word. Lucy often defies her husband, and does what she wants, but she still is the housewife and he is still the workhorse of the family. Lucy is a headstrong character that does what she wants while her husband is away. Even when Ricky gets home, she hasn’t lost her spunk and humor. This episode captures this relationship perfectly because Lucy demands her husband gets her these specific food items like sardines, pistachio ice cream, and papaya, and he complies without questioning her authority. Most men would not let their wives speak to them in the way that Lucy speaks to Ricky, but their relationship is different, and Lucy pushes the boundaries of the typical 1950’s housewife. . Douglas refers to The show, “I Love Lucy,” and the lead character Lucy breaking the mold of women by stating, “ Either physically or verbally, or both, these women refused to stay in their place, and broke the stays of corseted demureness” (Douglas 51). This sitcom shows women at home that they can be who they want to be and not have to comply with everything their husband demands. By Lucy demanding for the things that she needs in the clip, she is showing women across the country that they too can do the same. It also shows the men across the country that behavior from their wives in that manor is acceptable, and wanted. By having a strong female character, the show tells audiences across the country the ways that women can break out of the ideology that men run the house and women cook and clean. This clip shows Lucy not cooking or preparing food for Ricky to come home to, instead it is he who is bringing her food. “I Love Lucy” still captures the main components of 1950’s television with the working husband and housewife. It also pushes many social boundaries that were known throughout the era by having a strong lead female character with wit and a sense of humor that often defies her husband and does what she wants to do. Throughout the clip, Lucy is the ne telling Ricky to go get food, thus capturing the way the show changed perspectives on what husbands in America can to do for their wives, and what women can do for themselves. Douglas, Susan J. "2." Where the Girls Are: Growing up Female with the Mass Media. New York: Random House, 1995. 43-60. Print

Lucy Ricardo's Pregnancy Cravings

This clip features two moments of pregnancy cravings by Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy.

from I Love Lucy (1952)
Creator: Producers: Jess Oppenheimer and Desi Arnaz
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Christine Becker