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Being the Ricardos Trailer and the Stories Behind the Laughter

Like most people, I loved I Love Lucy. I would sit on the couch watching the showing with my parents as it replayed on Nick at Nite back in the late ’80s after Mr. Ed and Bewitched. We’re talking about a show that pushed the envelope in many ways over the better part of the 1950s, especially as societal views started shifting away from women being homemakers and to becoming assets of the modern workforce. Hell, it’s 70 years later, and we’re still making pop culture references to it in shows like WandaVision. Where Hollywood was a sparkling place full of male decision-makers, Lucille Ball knew her worth as an actress and comedienne, and I can’t think of anyone better to embody that role than Nicole Kidman. And with Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz and Aaron Sorkin helming the biopic, I’m confident we’ll be talking about Being the Ricardos during awards season. 

I’m always more impressed when a trailer gives you very little. The Being the Ricardos trailer does exactly that, showing characters we recognize for only a few frames, like Nina Arianda playing Vivian Vance and J.K. Simmons as William Frawley at what we can only assume is a table read for an episode with characters Fred and Ethel Mertz. A flash shows a script for Season 2, Episode 4, titled “Fred and Ethel Fight.” According to IMDb, that episode appears as Season 1, Episode 22. Television shows back then ran for thirty-six episodes, so how the studios split the seasons may have been different. “Fred and Ethel Fight” is based on an actual Lucy and Desi fight. The episode where Lucy and Desi help mend a couple’s relationship at a dinner party by rehashing their own fights ultimately led to a new dispute in the couple’s relationship.  

J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda turn their heads as Fred and Ethel Mertz in Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos also alludes to one of the funniest moments in television history where Lucy stomps grapes at a winery. Rewatching the scene now to write this piece, I find myself brought to tears by Ball’s comedic timing. Unfortunately, that scene wasn’t all it appeared to be. While we sit at home and continue to enjoy the utterly hilarious moment, Lucille Ball was in real trouble. When Ball appeared on the Dick Cavett show in 1974, she told Cavett that while dancing in the vat of grapes, she accidentally hit one of the real-life grape stompers producers had cast while slipping on the grapes. Well, the grape stomper “took offense,” according to Ball, and a fight broke out in the vat of grapes in front of a live studio audience. Ball says that she was held down by the throat and unable to breathe. The woman, a native Italian, was told that there would be an altercation in the scene, but no one on set spoke Italian and couldn’t tell her to stop.  

She kept me down by the throat! And I had grapes up my nose, in my ears, and she was choking me. And I’m really beating her to get her off. And [the audience is] wondering—because we do this in front of an audience, you know? And she didn’t understand that she had to let me up once in a while. I was drowning in those grapes!

The behind-the-laughter difficulty is likely going to be the tone of Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos. The current synopsis on IMDb says the story, “Follows Lucy and Desi as they face a crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.” If anyone can bring laughter and compassion while maintaining a serious tone, it’s Sorkin. His work on The West Wing and The Newsroom prove that, but even in the minute-long teaser for Being the Ricardos, we can see why he’s one of the most prolific screenwriters of the last 20 to 30 years.  

Being the Ricardos will have a limited theater run beginning December 10 before premiering on Prime Video on December 21.  

So what do you think of the trailer for Being the Ricardos? Do you agree with Sean that it looks to strike a dramatic tone between the laughter? What’s your favorite I Love Lucy episode? Let us know in the comments! And if you’re looking for horror trailers, we’ve got you covered!

Written by Sean Parker

Sean lives just outside of Boston. He loves great concerts, all types of movies, video games, and all things nerd culture.

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