I didn’t watch much television as a child. Programming was limited back then – three channels if you were lucky and had a good antenna and set of rabbit ears. The real reason I didn’t watch much television was because I was too busy down at the creek building a fort or dam or trying to catch tadpoles and crawdads; too busy playing football/basketball/baseball with my friends in the neighborhood; too busy reading the latest Hardy Boys mystery or Chip Hilton sports book.
I did like the Donna Reed Show and Father Knows Best because I had big time crushes on Shelley Fabares and Elinor Donahue. Shelley Fabares was amazing. She was like a female Ricky Nelson – almost impossibly good looking. Google her picture if you don’t believe me.
I never loved Lucy. I couldn’t relate to the show. It was mildly entertaining, but I didn’t know what to make of some loud, zany woman living in New York city with a Cuban band leader. Desi wasn’t like any father I knew; Lucy wasn’t like any mother I knew; they didn’t have any children my age.
I’m older now, but I still don’t love Lucy. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a talented ensemble cast and the acting is good. I still don’t think it’s all that funny but, more importantly, I think the writing is weak. The premise of Fred and Ethel as a married couple borders on the ridiculous. Vivian Vance is an attractive, vivacious woman. Bill Frawley is a sourpuss and a cheapskate. It’s inconceivable that they would marry. It’s obvious they don’t even like each other. Underneath the gags, escapades, and canned laugh track is something darker. Lucy is constantly undermining her husband’s career and putting his job at risk by trying to turn his nightclub act into an amateur act starring Lucy Ricardo. She does the same thing with his film opportunities, sometimes costing other performers a paycheck. Why is she doing this? She’s not eighteen years old. Is she being passive-aggressive? I know, I’m reading too much into it. I should just enjoy the comedy. I probably would if it was funnier. In the meantime, as long as I’m on the Internet, I think I’ll take another look at that picture of Shelley Fabares.