I grew up on I Love Lucy. It was one of my favorite TV shows, and it still is. I watched it innocently, without understanding what it represented in American history or our collective consciousness. I read late what it meant for Ricky and Lucy to sleep in separate beds and how daring it was for them to write her pregnancy into the show. I took it all on faith, at face value, and loved it for what it was. I thought their relationship was fine and even romantic. Oh little unenlightened Meg, with no parents to help me analyze or interpret what I consumed.
So lately I’ve been thinking we could reboot this series for modern television. Almost nothing has to change. The events are the same: Ricky and Lucy Ricardo are a married or cohabitating couple living in a Brooklyn brownstone. He’s a member of the creative class, and fairly successful. She’s a dreamer and works now and again when economic pressure builds up, or she just feels like getting a job.
She envies Ricky’s creative outlet and tries often to get him to include her. However, instead of wacky hijinks to get into the show, Ricky tells her coldly she’s too fat to be on stage. She’s too old to get into the movies. He undermines her self-esteem, so she derives most of her emotional support from her friend and neighbor, Ethel. The two of them smoke weed together, drink together, and generally enjoy funemployment like anyone would.
Lucy begins to suspect that the nature of her relationship with Ricky is abusive.
The two of them grow apart. They have a child, but it doesn’t fix anything. Ricky’s career is better than ever, but his insecurity also skyrockets. He escalates his abuse until there’s no denying it.
We watch them fall apart. There are a terse couple of years, they fight over money. Lucy develops a secret life, Walter White style. She’s internalized his body shaming for years and has a hard time feeling attractive, so she gives up on performing. She goes back to school and gets an internship with a startup. Despite success and a new outlook, she’s still attached to her marriage. She suspects Ricky has been cheating on her, and he is. She follows him just like in the original series but instead of hilarious misdirection, she finds them fucking. Wounded and confused, she sleeps with her best friend and finds it surprisingly satisfying.
She and Ethel run away together. Ricky drinks too much and his smoking ruins his singing voice. The two women raise Little Ricky in Southern California, a place Lucy fell in love with when they all went there together to discuss a film option. They settle in Palm Springs and adopt a baby girl from China so that Lucy’s son can have a sister. Ricky calls sometimes, crying. Lucy is kind to him, but her triumph is all over her face as she hangs up. I love you, Lucy, she says to herself. At last.
Call me, CBS. I’ll write you a pilot.