Being The Ricardos
See It Or Skip It: See It
A Sitecom For The New Millenium
Not everyone will say I Love Lucy but I’m sure everyone will say “ I Love Being The Ricardos”. Being The Ricardos follows a particular week in the 1950s when Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) is accused of being a member of the communist party. She must face this public relations rumor along with tabloids that Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) is cheating on her as he is trying to ensure the now pregnant Ball can be pregnant on the show (Which in the 50s simply wasn’t done) and the constant squabbling between co-stars William Frawley & Vivian Vance (J.K. Simmons and Nina Arianda). Throughout the week, Aaron Sorkin provides viewers a portrait of what that week must have been like along with necessary flashbacks of Lucy’s and Desi’s relationship.
I feel that biopics are way overdone these days, especially where Oscar season is concerned. Original stories straight from the imagination need a platform more than ever now so as long as biopics keep lining up one by one, they’d better be worth the time. I’m happy to report that Being The Ricardos is worth multiple viewings. The film is fun, stylish, hilarious, touching in certain areas, and always leaves you waiting hungrily for the next episode. That wasn’t a typo. Being The Ricardos is NOT the I Love Lucy show but it does have a tone to it that feels like television. When the television is great, we are all like animals waiting tirelessly to be fed. Being The Ricardos divides itself into chapters based on the days of that difficult week for Ball and Arnaz. They feel like entire episodes because there was so much that was going down.
Kidman went through so much work to pull off the performance she gives but she makes it look so easy. Actors like Lucille Ball of that era made it so that eventually, actors like Nicole Kidman could star in meaningful work and have it be socially acceptable not to put up with certain nonsense. Nicole herself is doing the same thing for the next generation. There’s really a very generational chain of feminism that swarms the production halls of Being The Ricardos. It’s a feminism that’s handled very respectfully. Tribute was paid by having Lucy and Desi’s real daughter with Nicole during production. Validation is key and I can’t imagine Nicole not being proud of this performance because she does such a phenomenal job with her voice and Lucille’s over-the-topness in some scenes and her bluntness in others.
Javier lets Kidman shine and he doesn’t lean on her to pull off his own brilliance. He portrays Arnaz as someone genuinely interested in Lucy’s mind and talents and the two make an amazing partnership. I feel what Being The Ricardos captures so perfectly is that once you’ve known someone for such a long period of time, you get used to seeing them a certain way. All that newness is gone and everything in between is just life. Arnaz genuinely loves Lucy but not enough to stay faithful to her. I wonder if he would have stayed faithful if he truly believed consequences would happen. To get away with any betrayal is simply permission to repeat itself in the future. He loves the show as much as Lucy does but as success rises, so do the pressures to maintain it. Arguments are made on both sides as to who really holds the full stack of cards and not just from Lucy and Desi. The writing team of I Love Lucy has their own cracks in their surfaces and Vivian Vance is consumed with insecurity when she compares herself to Ball. She loses quite a bit of weight, she’s stopped eating breakfast, she smokes like a chimney, and with the amount of bickering she and William engage in, they might as well have been married.
There’s never any victory in winning any argument the characters find themselves in because at the end of the day, what’s changed? The show is still filmed live and if one person slips, everyone falls down. It’s only when everyone is certain that they’re about to lose everything that they can close their mouths, listen to what the other has to say, and be mature about it. It shouldn’t take all of that but it often does. People are like fitness equipment. Treadmills and weights. Eventually, we wear ourselves out leaving nothing but exhaustion. Sometimes we go through all this with one particular incident over the course of several months, a year, or something new each day.
Aaron Sorkin really makes Being The Ricardos a sitcom for the new millennium. Even if the writing is culturally problematic (Because let’s face it, most of them are), sitcoms have always taught us something about people being together. We can get so annoyed and so fed up with them and the relatability to all that is what makes it so funny. At the end of the day, we’re so invested with them all and there’s so much history and love that we overlook everything else. Or maybe it’s just easier with fictional characters, who knows? What I do know is that Being The Ricardos hit a lot closer to home upon my second viewing and I was just as captivated as I was the first time. Each viewing feels like a new episode and each episode makes you look at the sitcom in your own life.
Image credit: Markowitz, M. (n.d.). Being the Ricardos' está basada en una historia real? Retrieved March 3, 2022, from https://tusresiduos.com/being-the-ricardos-esta-basada-en-una-historia-real/