Lucy and Desi take a deep dive into the work and lives of the creators of I Love Lucy

For a show that hasn’t aired for over 60 years, i love lucy is sure to get a lot of attention these days. The first came from Aaron Sorkin Be the Ricardos, a film that earned Oscar nominations from Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem for their respective portrayals of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. And now comes the documentary Lucy and Desiwhich delves deep into the famous couple’s professional and personal relationship.

Directed by Amy Poehler, the film uses a variety of methods to illuminate their stories, including audio tapes and home videos, classic and behind-the-scenes footage from i love lucy, interviews, etc. Among the bold names looming over their thoughts are comedy legend Carol Burnett and Bette Midler, both of whom worked with Ball early in their careers and consider her a mentor.

Burnett, Midler, her daughter Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill, and executives at the National Comedy Center tout Ball’s virtues, calling her a genius who might actually be underestimated. The risks Ball took, like making herself look ugly for a laugh, were things women just didn’t do in her day.

Ball’s transition from a Hollywood glamor girl, who remains an underexposed part of her career, to a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny is one of the most fascinating parts of the film. And it’s all the more remarkable given the ingrained sexism she faced as a woman in a male-dominated world.

Arnaz faced his own challenges as a Cuban immigrant, but seemed to overcome them with willpower. Using his musical talents and exuberant personality, he rose from a 16-year-old refugee in Miami in 1934 to a supporting role in the 1940 film. too many girls, featuring none other than Ball. Less than six months after meeting on set, they got married.

But, as the film shows, their marriage was rocky from the start. Arnaz, perhaps intimidated by Ball’s massive stardom, spent most of their first nine years of marriage away from her, first in the military and then touring the country with his band. In fact, Luckinbill posits that the creation of i love lucy was more than just a chance for the couple to work together; it was an attempt to bring them closer together as family, an attempt that ultimately failed despite the show’s success.

The cover of the documentary i love lucy The years will be familiar to anyone even halfway familiar with the show’s history, from Ball becoming the first woman to appear pregnant on television to the “scandal” of communism surrounding Ball that Sorkin put at the center of his film. An interesting note is that Luckinbill corroborates a scene in Be the Ricardos which had FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover personally clearing Ball’s name, a scene that had been the subject of much derision.

Ball and Arnaz’s other legacy is Desilu Productions, which was founded in 1950 for their show, but eventually became the largest independent television studio in the world at the time, helping to bring shows such as star trek, Impossible mission, The Andy Griffith Showand The Dick Van Dyke Show in the world. Ironically, however, the studio’s success left them both unhappy, with Arnaz undone by his own ambitious will.

Lucy and Desi attempts to play both sides of the fence, valuing Ball and Arnaz’s skills and romance while acknowledging the very complicated nature of their relationship. If nothing else, it’s a compelling look at the couple’s unique place in 20th-century television history.

Lucy and Desi premieres on Amazon Prime Video on March 4.

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