Review: ‘Being the Ricardos’

From 1951 to 1957, Monday nights were filled with laughter as families gathered in their living rooms to watch the comedic escapades of actress
Lucille Ball.  

Known famously for her lead role in the American sitcom, “I Love Lucy,” Ball quickly became a household name.  

Although Ball and her co-stars brought laughter to households across the nation, life behind the camera was anything short of chaotic.  

“Being the Ricardos” introduces us to the struggles of Hollywood life during the 1950s. 

It was a time when the television industry was unfortunately still regarded as a man’s game. 

Lucille Ball, played by Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman, is portrayed as a driven, comedic actress who takes charge of all on-set scenarios.  

This caused studio executives, as well as writers and directors, to develop problems with her preferred way of working.  

In many scenes, Kidman is seen demonstrating Lucy’s thought process behind some of the most iconic scenes of the show.  

This includes season 5, episode 23. 

In the episode, Lucy is approached about a role within a film called “Bitter Grapes.”  

Oddly thinking that this film involves grapes, Ball decides to go to a winery where grapes are smashed by foot. 

Thus, an escapade of physical comedy ensues.  

In “Being the Ricardos,” we see Kidman’s character mentally map out how she wants the scene to be set up.  

It isn’t until later that audiences begin to see opposition to her insistent recommendations as to how scenes should play out.  

I love that the director included this portion within the plot.  

It allows for longtime fans of the show to develop a better understanding of how Ball conducted herself while filming.  

It also demonstrates how strong of a character Ball was when offscreen, facing endless opposition and attitude from crew members. 

When Ball wasn’t faced with opposition, she was told what many females are still told to this day – that she was too old for the big screen. 

Back then, rules for television were extremely different than what we know them as today.  

This topic was covered when Kidman is seen discussing the show’s plot with screenwriters.  

Once Ball became pregnant with her first child, she wanted CBS to write about her pregnancy within the show’s plot. 

Once again, the idea was shot down. 

Though, as we know today, Ball’s persistence prevailed and the episode aired with her pregnancy being a key role within the show’s history. 

Though it came with a catch – they weren’t allowed to use the word “pregnant” on air.  

It was a general rule in those days that pregnancy was a taboo word and topic to be discussed on TV.  

The episode where the audience discovered she is pregnant received the name “Lucy is Enceinte.”  

Enceinte is the French term for pregnant. 

Perhaps the biggest controversy discussed within the film is that of the media scandal that accused Ball of being a communist.  

This was a detrimental accusation for any public figure during that time.  

Of course, the issue was ultimately dissolved at the conclusion of the film.  

Though as time progressed, the issue as well as many others, caused turmoil within her marriage. 

Desi Arnaz, who co-started as Lucy’s husband, was married to her for 20 years.  

They even had two children together, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz.  

As the main issue of the communist accusations simmered, so did the tension between the two.  

Devastating secrets were unveiled about their marriage and bridges were burned amid the lights and laughter of the sound stage. 

If you wish to know more about this tumultuous, yet loving relationship, you can find “Being the Ricardos” on Amazon Prime.

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