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Wayne State University Press

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Paperback
Published: April 2010
ISBN: 9780814332610
Pages: 136 Size: 5x7
Illustrations: 13 black and white photographs
eBOOK
Published: April 2010
ISBN: 9780814335734
Review

Imagine watching I Love Lucy in 1951. Television was very new, not yet in every household, let alone in almost every room, so maybe you are watching at your house or apartment, or maybe at a friend's or family member's house. The characters on your screen inhabit a living room with a television set; you are watching them watching television, and television is rapidly becoming an essential part of everyday life. This is the backdrop to the cultural phenomenon of 'Lucy TV.'

— From chapter 1

I Love Lucy aired for six seasons between 1951 and 1957 as a top-rated weekly sitcom, and its characters appeared in thirteen hour-long specials between 1958 and 1960. In I Love Lucy, author Lori Landay investigates the groundbreaking series and its highly charismatic stars, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, to consider the program’s impact on the conventions of the sitcom, television culture, and wider postwar culture.

In chapters that proceed chronologically through the life of the series, Landay takes an interdisciplinary cultural studies approach to understanding the wider phenomenon of I Love Lucy, with an emphasis on a variety of issues as they arise from different phases of the show. She examines the program’s efficient production system, compelling narrative formula, hilarious writing, and the technical genius behind the scenes that put it onto film. Landay also considers the show’s clever plots within a familiar situation, magnificent comic performance, and the remarkable chemistry of its actors. In addition, she studies the end of the series and its continued place in popular culture.

I Love Lucy is perhaps the most popular television show of all time, and its stars are some of the most recognizable in television history. For scholars of American television history as well as the series’ many fans, I Love Lucy will be an enjoyable and informative read.

Lori Landay is associate professor of cultural studies at Berklee College of Music, teaching visual culture. She is a new media artist and author of Madcaps, Screwballs, and Con Women: The Female Trickster in American Culture as well as articles on digital narrative, virtual worlds, silent film, and other topics in American culture.

For a short book, I Love Lucy covers quite a lot of ground: the cultural, industrial, and commercial contexts in which the comedy series was produced and watched; the significance of Ball's star text and performativity; and the series' impact on the TV situation comedy genre. This discussion is nicely balanced with close readings of specific episodes with overviews of episode types that recurred through the many years of the series' run on CBS."

– Steven Cohan, professor of English at Syracuse University

Imagine watching I Love Lucy in 1951. Television was very new, not yet in every household, let alone in almost every room, so maybe you are watching at your house or apartment, or maybe at a friend's or family member's house. The characters on your screen inhabit a living room with a television set; you are watching them watching television, and television is rapidly becoming an essential part of everyday life. This is the backdrop to the cultural phenomenon of 'Lucy TV.'"

– From chapter 1