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Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck: “I Love Lucy”

Marty McFly and Doc Brown had the Delorean to go travel through time; We have the Tu Vez Blast-From-The-Past Truck. Every week, we’ll hop in our time traveling machine, gun it to 88 MPH, and go back in time to bring you the best from the good ol’ days. Will it be a clip from an old telenovela? An old school music video? Stick around and find out!

By Jack Tomas

Name a sitcom on network TV right now with an mixed ethnicity family besides “Modern Family”. You can’t, because there aren’t any. For all of our “We live in a post-racist society” or “We elected a Black president, didn’t we?” stuff, we still have a ways to go. The luscious Sofia Vergara’s TV marriage to Al Bundy aside, what is it that disturbs network execs so much? Perhaps they’ve forgotten that America’s original and favorite sitcom family were called THE RICARDOS! “I Love Lucy” was, is, and always will be the greatest sitcom ever.

Lucille Ball was a genius. Possibly in the top three comedic actresses of all-time. But it wasn’t just Lucy that made the show work so well. If you know your Commedia Del’Arte, (here’s where I utilize my largely unused theater major), the “Zani” must always have a “Pantalone”, or straight man for the comedy to work. Desi Arnaz, who played her husband Ricky Ricardo, was the perfect straight man. Watch the show. The biggest laugh usually comes the moment Desi discovers whatever crazy thing Lucy does and reacts. In fact, the longest sustained TV laugh is in the clip below, when Desi and Lucy tango while he smashes the eggs she’s hidden in her shirt. They can’t continue the scene for nearly three minutes! Add the brilliant (and drunk) Jim Frawley and Vivianne Vance, and you have comedy gold. The show ran from 1951-1957, at the very birth of television. Back then, your TV choices consisted mostly of pro-wrestling, game shows, and that test pattern with the Indian on it. “I Love Lucy” is the basic framework upon which all TV sitcoms are based. I still watch it all the time, and not just because I’m Cuban and Desi is my hero. The show is just plain funny.

“I Love Lucy” has been in continuous syndication since it went off the air in 1957. Think about that. Four generations of people all over the world have grown up with the misadventures of Lucy and Ricky. Now, returning to my original comment, why aren’t there more inter-ethnic families on TV? “I Love Lucy” was on television at a time in America where Latinos weren’t seen on TV and Blacks were only allowed to play servants. The Civil Rights Movement was just about to kick off and the country was divided on racial and ethnic lines. And yet, America didn’t care that a pretty all-American redheaded White girl was married to a swarthy “Espanish espeaking” Cuban guy. TV execs, if you are reading this, take a lesson from 60 years ago and get with the program. Get it? “Program”!

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