How I Love Lucy Impacted My Own Family

While this class is divided into decades, I liked that last week (the 1950s) had a very obvious theme: family. With the rise of television, stories about families and communities were the first to hit air. I appreciated that we were able to get a feel for these early depictions of familial units through the viewing and then further understand the evolution through the reading.

In particular, however, I was excited about getting to cover I Love Lucy.

I Love Lucy follows the antics of ambitious and undeniably comical Lucy Ball and her husband Ricky, who is a bandleader and also a Cuban immigrant.

This multicultural marriage is entirely atypical for this time period and signified social change.

[Image from EthelMertz.com]

My mother’s family is Cuban. They came to the United States in the late 1960s. My mother, as she was a child, completely assimilated into American culture, while her parents did not. They never even completely learned to speak English.

As lived in a small community of Cuban exiles in Miami called “Little Havana,” her family never anticipated her falling for an American and ultimately marrying him.

Initially, my Abuela (my mother’s mother) completely disapproved of the relationship. How could she, even in the US, choose to be with someone who wasn’t Cuban?

It wasn’t until my mother got the rest of the family hooked on I Love Lucy reruns in the late 80s that Abuela started to warm up to the idea. She loved Ricky and she even loved Lucy, so she eventually came around and decided that maybe she could love whomever her daughter loved too.

Albeit tangentially, I have I Love Lucy to thank for my family. My parents have been married for 25 years and Abuela now lives with us.

This, although a personal story, demonstrates the scope and impact of television. It took seeing a multicultural marriage on primetime television for Abuela to become comfortable with the idea of it and I can’t imagine that she is the only person to ever be swayed by something on television.

Whether it be multicultural relationships on I Love Lucy in the 1950s or lesbian weddings on Friends in the 1990s, it seems as if sitcoms can absolutely be a force for positive social change.

Taylor Borden

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8 Responses to How I Love Lucy Impacted My Own Family

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I love the way you use personal experience to make a point. In a different way, my parents also come from different backgrounds and I know this can be hard for both sides of the family. I definitely agree that TV at that time was a great impact on families, and definitely helped other families on their lives. – Jon Baquero

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Love the use of a personal anecdote! I’m so glad Lucy and Ricky’s relationship had a positive impact on your family. I agree that sitcoms can definitely be a strong force of social change. Take Lucy’s character herself- constantly trying to escape the domestic/private sphere, and paving for other women on television to do the same. – Kelsey Sierra

  3. mediaphiles says:

    This was so fun and cute to read! Being hispanic, I completely understand your grandmothers perspective. It is so common for hispanics to have such strong views…especially on relationships. My parents both still have a very hard time getting adjusted to American customs so they are usually more strict in that department. Maybe I should have them watch some I love Lucy too?

    Alexandra Peralta

  4. mediaphiles says:

    This is such a sweet and touching post! I agree–we study, talk about and analyze trends in sitcoms but rarely do we talk about the actual emotional impact of these shows. Your story was really touching and is a perfect anecdote to demonstrate the tangible impact of shows on individuals and families. I bonded with one of my best friends over the show Friends and although everybody loves Friends, we feel it is something that truly connects us.

    -Sam Moore

  5. mediaphiles says:

    Wow, this is so moving! Part of the reason I got my mom hooked on Modern Family was to introduce her to the idea of families with LGBTQ+ individuals functioning just like everyone else. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Karly Morgan

  6. marymdalton says:

    I can’t tell you how much I love this post!!!!! Thank you for sharing your story — putting this series into a cultural context!

  7. mediaphiles says:

    I loved hearing your story!! My mother was not born in the US and when she came she did not assimilate well initially; also since my dad is a different race it was difficult getting her family to understand. Television definitely has an impact over how we perceive or understand reality and I love how it worked out in your mom’s benefit! It’s inspiring to hear how a sitcoms can have a such a positive impact.
    – Ziba Klein

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