Growing up there was one show that I bingewatched before “bingewatching” was even a word: “I Love Lucy.” On Tuesday nights, Nick At Nite ran six episodes back-to-back. I used to record them all on VHS tapes (LOLZ) and watch them other nights of the week. As a result, I have a weirdly specific knowledge base about 1950s Hollywood movie stars, a diehard love of polka dots, and a lifelong envy of redheads. (Even fake redheads.)
I didn’t realize it until I grew older, but Lucy — both the TV character, Lucy Ricardo, and the actress, Lucille Ball — was a strong feminist role model for me as a girl. She may have been constrained by her domineering husband and a society with a specific path in mind for nice, white, middle-class ladies, but Lucy had gumption in spades. She believed in herself and never took “no” for an answer. She was creative and just a little bit naughty. And her best friend Ethel Mertz was by her side for every harebrained scheme.
As for Lucille Ball, she came from nothing and worked hard to succeed in Hollywood on her many talents. She and Desi Arnaz (her real life husband, who played Ricky Ricardo) broke ground depicting an interracial marriage on TV. ”I Love Lucy” was also the first show to depict a pregnant woman on television — even if America was still so censorious about sex that they had to say the word “pregnant” in Spanish. She continued to star in TV shows centered around her talent throughout the rest of her life.
Today is Lucille Ball’s 103rd birthday. She passed away in 1989 at the age off 77, but she lives on — both in dozens of VHS tapes in my parents’ family room and the Internet. In honor of Lucy, who I love, here’s eight life lessons we can all take from “I Love Lucy”: