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.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.