Lucille Ball broke barriers for women in comedy, set television records, and shattered stereotypes on I Love Lucy.
Is there anything Lucille Ball can’t do? The short answer is no. That’s why she’s a legend and I Love Lucy is still watched today.
When I Love Lucy was picked up by producers, Lucille agreed to star on the show only if her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, was cast as her co-star. Network executives and sponsors were hesitant to agree because they feared the public wouldn’t accept an interracial marriage on TV.
Lucille recalled the producers “said the public wouldn’t believe I was married to Desi.” But Lucille stood her ground and the network cast Desi as Lucy’s husband on the show. America fell in love with the television couple and proved that interracial marriage could not only be accepted but also praised by the public.
I Love Lucy Became the First Show to Feature an Openly Pregnant Woman on TV
It may seem hard to believe, but it was once unheard of to show pregnant women onscreen. At the time, TV execs deemed pregnancy obscene in some way. But that’s the way it was with much of entertainment back in the 50s. Many people were terrified to actually acknowledge and openly display the biological consequences of marital sex.
For this reason, no show had featured an openly pregnant woman not concealing her belly. But Lucille Ball broke those cringy walls by displaying herself in all her pregnant glory on I Love Lucy. There was one catch though – she and Ricky weren’t allowed to say the word “pregnant.”
They could say, “we’re expecting,” or “we’re having a baby.” They could even say “pregnant” in different languages such as French – which is what they did for the title of the episode when lucy reveals that she’s “with child.” The episode is titled “Lucy is Enceinte.” But they could not say “pregnant” so as not to terrify and offend all of America with such an obscene word.
The couple managed to get around the barrier in a really beautiful and seamless way. Through musical numbers and cute dialogue, you barely notice that the word is never used during the episode. Despite the ban of the word, Lucille Ball carried her son through the recording of episodes.