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Abstract

I Love Lucy is one of the most legendary and popular situation comedies of all time, maintaining its ability to charm audiences even half a century later.  The show follows the life of Lucy Ricardo, a zany housewife in 1950s New York City as she attempts to break into show business, defy her husband or just keep life interesting through a series of schemes and mishaps.  Showcasing the exceptional comedic talents of its star, Lucille Ball, the show has a timeless ability to entertain.  In addition to its entertainment value, the show’s 1950s setting provides a rich point of cultural critique.  It has been accused of reinforcing patriarchal norms and being degrading to women.  In viewing the show with a contemporary perspective, these accusations have some undeniable legitimacy.  Lucy and her best friend Ethel are often consumed by petty, material desires; they are frequently depicted as incompetent; their messes are usually cleaned up by their more sensible, authoritative husbands.  Still, what messages in I Love Lucy speak the loudest?  Do Lucy Ricardo’s never-quite-successful schemes as a housewife overshadow Lucille Ball’s professional success as a businesswoman, comedian and actress?  Despite the show’s outward adherence to some of the patriarchal ideology of the times, I Love Lucy was a vehicle for Lucille Ball to empower women, both within and outside the world of the show.  This website provides evidence for that argument.