Doty, Alexander. “The Cabinet of Lucy Ricardo: Lucille Ball’s Star Image.” Cinema Journal 29.4 (1990): 3-22. JSTOR. Web.
This article argues that in playing Lucy Ricardo, Lucille Ball reduced and demeaned herself because the show demanded it. It discusses the tension and overlap between Lucille and Lucy and the ways in which these personas interacted, as well as that interaction’s influence on the show. Doty believes that, while at first Lucy had some subversive qualities because it integrated Lucille’s more respectable talents, the “Lucy” persona eventually eclipsed “Lucille,” submitting to the hegemonic ideology of the time. This is useful in the argument I present against its subversive effect, as well as for background information about Lucille Ball.
Edgerton, Gary R. “Here Comes Television: Remaking American Life – 1948-1954.” The Columbia History of American Television. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. 113-55. Print.
This chapter is about the historical setting in which television came to be in America, the significance of certain television shows, the development of new television genres, and some early history of television and the transition from radio. It covers some relevant ideological issues of the time as well as important shows, including I Love Lucy. It is useful to me for understanding the culture in which Lucy was a success, as well as some history of the show.
Landay, Lori. “I Love Lucy: Television and Gender in Postwar Domestic Ideology.” The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed. Albany: State University of New York, 2005. 87-97. Print.
This essay analyzes both Lucy’s reception in light of the patriarchal, domestic culture of the 1950s, as well as its effect on that culture. It explains the show’s success from a proto-feminist standpoint, describing the ground that Lucille Ball broke both directly on screen and subversively on screen. It argues almost exactly what I wish to argue, so it will be very useful as I make my thesis point. I have three pieces from this author so I can trust that she has given great thought to the subject.
—. “Millions ‘Love Lucy’: Commodification and the Lucy Phenomenon.” NWSA Journal 11.2 (1999): 25-46. JSTOR. Web.
This article focuses on the ways in which mass consumerism is fundamental to the cultural phenomenon that still surrounds I Love Lucy. This ideology was pushed in the world of the show as well as through its syndication, the multitudes of Lucy brand products available for purchase at the time of its airing, and the nostalgic collectables available now. The consumption of products isn’t particularly relevant to my inquiry, but the article also discusses the consumption of the implicit in the show, arguing that these were against domesticity.
—. “Television in the Home and the Home on Television: Fifties TV and Lucy TV.” I Love Lucy. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2010. 7-21. Print.
This chapter discusses the rise of television and its effect on American culture. It also discusses the depiction of the home on television, which is the most relevant for my needs. Because people had never dealt with the degree of influence representations on television had, they were particularly sensitive to that influence. While some shows suggested a “perfect” domesticity, Lucy showed a version that challenged the established rules. I can use this in my argument about Lucy’s feminist influence in the 1950s.
Press, Andrea L. “Work, Family and Social Class in Television Images of Women: Prefeminism, Feminism, and Postfeminism on Prime-Time Television.” Women Watching Television: Gender, Class, and Generation in the American Television Experience. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, 1991. 27-96. Print.
This chapter establishes three eras of television: prefeminist, feminist, and postfeminist. It situates Lucy in the prefeminist era, describing the ways in which the show negatively portrayed women as well as pointing out the subversive and more progressive elements of the show. It discusses the strong friendship between Lucy and Ethel and the way they fight against the oppression in their lives as a united force. This will be helpful for both sides of my argument, particularly my thesis statement.
Walker, Nancy. “Humor and Gender Roles: The “Funny” Feminism of the Post-World War II Suburbs.” American Quarterly 37.1 (1985): 98-113. JSTOR. Web.
While this article isn’t directly related to I Love Lucy, it is about the function of humor as a subversive tool by oppressed women in post war America. A lot of it analyzes specific pieces of writing which are not at all relevant to my inquiry, but it also includes information about the cultural climate of the 1950s for women and theories on the use of humor. It also describes and explains the way women had to relate to humor at that time, which will be useful in justifying humor that could be interpreted as degrading.
Walsh, Kimberly R., Elfriede Fürsich, and Bonnie S. Jefferson. “Beauty and the Patriarchal Beast: Gender Role Portrayals in Sitcoms Featuring Mismatched Couples.” Journal of Popular Film & Television 36.3 (2008): 123-32. Academic Search Complete. Web.
In contrast with the dynamic between Lucy and Ricky, in which Lucy is the one being scolded for her behavior and Ricky is the one cleaning up the mess or forgiving, a trend in sitcoms today is to feature a mismatched couple made up of a fat slob husband and a hot, smart wife. The article argues that, while at a surface level this may seem like a reversal with women being represented well, these shows ultimately reinforce the same patriarchal values promoted by shows such as Lucy. This will be useful for contrasting 1950s and contemporary gender representation in sitcoms to demonstrate my topics continued relevance into the present.
I Love Lucy Episodes
“Be a Pal.” I Love Lucy: The Complete Series. Paramount, 2007. DVD.
Lucy feels ignored by Ricky, so Ethel suggests she consults a book written on the subject. The author suggests it is the fault of the wife when the husband ignores her, and that she should work harder on her appearance and try to involve herself in his favorite hobbies. This will be useful for my argument for the sexism of the series because of the author’s outrageous ideas about relationships.
“Lucy is Envious.” I Love Lucy: The Complete Series. Paramount, 2007. DVD.
Trying to impress a wealthy friend from school, Lucy and Ethel accidentally pledge $500 to a charity the friend is collecting for. Unwilling to back out of the donation, Lucy and Ethel get hired to dress up as Martians and kidnap a tourist from the top of the Empire State Building. Afterwards, reports of Martians are so widespread they start wondering if Martians really have landed on Earth. This episode is a good example of Lucy’s jealousy causing her problems. Also, Ricky keeps telling her to be happy with what she has, creating a division between the genders concerning their attitudes towards vanity and material wealth.
“Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her.” I Love Lucy: The Complete Series. Paramount, 2007. DVD.
After becoming engrossed in a murder mystery, Lucy becomes suspicious that Ricky is planning to murder her. After a series of misunderstandings and Lucy’s paranoia, she becomes convinced. She believes he has poisoned her when he in fact just gave her a sedative, but manages to go to the club where he works to confront him about his plot. This episode is a great example of the women being depicted as foolish and childlike, and sends the message that women are too impressionable to read books.
“Ricky’s Screen Test.” I Love Lucy: The Complete Series. Paramount, 2007. DVD.
Ricky has a screen test and a good chance of getting hired for a film, which would mean he and Lucy would move to Hollywood. Lucy desperately wants to be discovered by a Hollywood producer herself, and seizes the opportunity to be seen when she plays opposite Ricky for his screen test. The camera is only supposed to see the back of her head, but she does everything she can to turn towards the camera and upstage him. The episode is a good example of Lucy’s attempts to get into show business, as well as an example of her behaving childlike and unreasonable with her husband embarrassed but unable to control her.