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“The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy”, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1936

Essay

“The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy” are well-known television shows that aired during the 1950’s. While “The Honeymooners” premiered on October 1, 1995 and “I Love Lucy” premiered on June 15, 1951, four years apart, the two shows shared many similar themes and motifs and were loved by the public. Both shows were American situation comedies and even aired on the same channel at one point in time; CBS. The two shows were also about couples and worked as a comedic social commentary on their day to day lives living in New York. Even the characters in the two shows had some level of overlap; both Lucy and Alice are portrayed to be difficult women and their husbands are men who run around them. Despite these similarities, the shows demonstrate some degree of contrast between the different classes of people who lived in the 1950’s; at the beginning of “I Love Lucy”, Lucy and Ricky live in a Manhattan apartment; although Alice and Ralph also live in New York, they are shown to live in a rundown apartment in Brooklyn. Despite the similarities and differences of the two shows, they remained highly successful during their runs and are still aired on some channels today.

One of the most striking similarities between the two programs is the similarity in personality between Alice Kramden and Lucy Ricardo. Alice and Lucy exhibit less than typical personalities for women that live during this time period. Women were expected to be obedient to their husbands, good homemakers, and caring mothers. In some aspects Alice and Lucy reflect the ideal women of the time period, and other ways they do not; this idea of not fitting in with current social standards is one of the main sources of comedy for these two television shows. When Ralphs insults Alice, she usually retorts with sarcasm. Likewise, Lucy usually does many things that she knows will make Ricky upset with her, but she does them anyway; many episodes revolve around her needing to fix these mistakes. On the other hand, both Lucy and Alice both show some characteristics of women that reflect the social ideals of the 1950’s. Lucy, for example, was a stereotypical woman because she always needed her husband to bail her out of tight situations. In addition, she was depicted as being weaker than men; for example, she was a bad driver and she spent too much money and was unable to form a budget. Alice represents a stereotypical housewife by offering nagging comments that her husband hates, but 1950’s social standard for women indicate that she should probably not be offering the advice because it constantly angers Ralph.

A second similarity between these two shows are their setting; “I Love Lucy” is set in a Manhattan apartment in New York City, while “The Honeymooners” is set in Brooklyn. Although these two locations are close in proximity, they reflect the very different lifestyles experienced by Lucy and Ricky compared to Alice and Ralph. The apartment in “I Love Lucy” always seemed to be well maintained and located in a good neighborhood. Meanwhile, the apartment used in “The Honeymooners” was run down and located in a middle class neighborhood. The difference of social status between these two families can also be exemplified by Ricky’s and Ralph’s vocations. Ralph Kramden was a bus driver for the Gotham Bus Company and often shows that he is upset by his social status through developing various “get rich quick” schemes. These schemes are usually far from realistic and Alice tries to explain this to him, which only makes him angry. On the other hand, Ricky Ricardo is a singer and a bandleader who receives many performance opportunities; the only problems Ricky seems to have in his life are results of the mistakes that Lucy makes.

Another similarity between the two shows is that the wife’s, Alice and Lucy, regularly anger their husbands through their shenanigans. Despite this however, the two husbands tend to react differently. When Alice angers Ralph, he usually responds to her with his iconic phrases “One of these days… POW!!! Right in the kisser!” or “BANG, ZOOM! Straight to the moon!”, to which Alice tells him to shut up. When Lucy makes mistakes, Ricky gets annoyed with her at times but usually resolves to help her fix her mistakes.

In both “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” the main couples had close friends that are consistently involved on the show. In “I Love Lucy”, Lucy and Ricky are good friends with Ethel and Fred Mertz and in “The Honeymooners”, Ralph and Alice are good friends with Edward and Thelma Norton. Ethel and Fred are both involved in vaudeville, which is similar to the career path that Ricky has. Whenever Lucy is scheming something, she usually involves Ethel in her plans, often against Ethel’s will. Ethel is depicted as a good wife, and usually tells her husband, Fred, about these schemes. While these attempts to get revenge against Ricky for making Lucy mad are unsuccessful, Fred is usually exasperated once he hears about them. Ethel functions as the voice of reason in her and Lucy’s friendship. In “The Honeymooners”, Ed and Trixie are Alice and Ralph’s upstairs neighbors and close friends. It is interesting to note that while in “I Love Lucy”, the two women, Lucy and Ethel are seen to be closer friends and in “The Honeymooners, the two men, Ralph and Ed seem to have the closer friendship; this is likely because the importance of the friendships of these two groups to the plot of the television show is very different in each situation. In “The Honeymooners” the two men often scheme together; Ed is dimwitted and his involvements in these schemes usually lead to their failure and Ralph becoming angry with him. Despite Ralph’s quick temper, the two are best friends and regularly attend meetings at the “Raccoon Lodge”.

Many episodes of “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” are also similar. In one episode on each of the shows the two main characters get handcuffed together; Lucy and Ricky in “I Love Lucy” and Ralph & Norton in “The Honeymooners”. Similarly, there were episodes on both television shows that Kramdens and Nortons, the Mertzes and Ricardos took a break from marriage; this episode was entitled “Vacation From Marriage” in “I Love Lucy” and “Battle of the Sexes” in “The Honeymooners”. Other episode similarities include an instance when someone broke into their apartment, Both the Kramdens and Nortons and the Ricardos and Mertzes sued each other over a dispute concerning a television set, the families from “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” visited Europe, and both Ralph and Lucy made television commercials that shamed them.

Aside from episode similarities, there are many small characteristics of the characters, the setting of the shows, the filming of the shows, and aspects of the characters’ lives that make these two shows even more similar. The physical similarities between the characters of the two shows include the fact that Ralph Kramden and Ricky Ricardo are the main husbands on the show and they both have the same hair color and wear similar hairstyles, Lucy and Alice are both red heads with curly hair and wear the same kind of dress and apron when they are seen in the house, Norton and Fred are considered the second most important male characters in the show and they are both bald or balding throughout both series’, and Ethel and Trixie are considered the second most important male characters in the show and they both have blonde hair and wear it in the same style. The filming of the two shows were also similar; both shows were filmed in front of a live studio audience and both shows were initially only a half hour long, but this length expanded to an hour. The aspects of the characters’ lives that make these two shows similar include the fact that Alice and Lucy both had older mothers who regularly got on their husbands nerves, Lucy and Alice always complain about their apartments, the Ricardos and Kramdens both had a maid that ended up leaving either because she was fired or decided to quit, and on both shows the wives decide they need to act and dress more glamorous in order to keep their husbands interested in them. One of the most interesting similarities between the two shows was the use of the name “MacGillicuddy”; on “I Love Lucy”, this is Lucy Ricardo’s maiden name, while in “The Honeymooners”, this is the name of the member of the Raccoon club that beat Ralph in an election by one vote. The second most interesting similarity between the two shows is that both the Kramden’s and Ricardo’s had a baby that they named after the father; the Kramden’s baby was named Ralphina after Ralph and the Ricardo’s baby was named Little Ricky after Ricky.

It is interesting to consider the many similarities between “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” when examining the time in which the two shows were released. Since “I Love Lucy’s” first season aired four years before “The Honeymooners”, it may have been used as a template by the creators of the latter show for the type of comedy they wished to have. The writers and the actors on “The Honeymooners” had to be aware of “I Love Lucy” and even fans of the show themselves; the show won a total of five Emmy awards, in addition to a handful of nominations, and won second on TV Guide’s list of all-time greatest television shows. The popularity of “I Love Lucy” was large during both the times of its initial showing and modern days. While “The Honeymooners” was also an iconic and loved television program of the 1950’s, it was slightly less successful that “I Love Lucy”; the program only ran on air for about a year, while “I Love Lucy” was on air for six seasons. Fans were extremely disappointed when the show ended, so the network released thirteen one hour specials between 1957 and 1960; therefore, the show was technically on the air for nine years.

Although “The Honeymooners” didn’t rank as highly as “I Love Lucy” in awards shows and general acclaim, the show did receive a lot of notice back during its initial airing and during reruns throughout the years. When the show first came out, it was ranked as the #2 best television show of all time in 1955, but this rating soon dropped to #19 in the following year. Even though the series only lasted for a year with 39 episodes, people still enjoyed the comedy that “The Honeymooners” delivered and sketches of the program were regularly done on “The Jackie Gleason Show”, where the program first got its success.

In conclusion “The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy” are similar programs because of the time period in which they were created and filmed. They were both successful during their runs because they depicted two average American families with their fair share of problems that were depicted in a comedic fashion. People around the world still know, love, and watch repeats of “The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy” today. Even though a lot of the jokes made are mainly relevant to the 1950’s, we can still appreciate the acting and hard work that went into the development of these programs; this is exemplified by the fact that young children who grew up during the 2000’s still enjoy watching these shows even though it was made for a different time. Therefore, people will continue to enjoy watching “The Honeymooners” and “I Love Lucy” for many years to come.

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