May 20, 2015

The Gay-Positive Episode of "Here's Lucy"

The last of the trilogy of Lucille Ball tv series, Here's Lucy (1968-74) made Lucy Carter a widow with two high school-aged kids, Kim and Craig (played by her real life children,18-year old  Lucie Arnaz and 15-year old Desi Arnaz Jr.).  Gale Gordon reprised his blustering Mr. Mooney role, but as Harry Carter, Lucy's brother-in-law and her employer at Carter's Unique Employment Agency.

Plotlines involved the unique characters seeking employment, generation gap antics between Lucy and her kids, plus the usual stream of celebrity guest stars: Jack Benny, Eva Gabor, Liberace, Lawrence Welk, Richard Burton, even Lucille Ball herself (when "Lucy Carter" meets the famous actress).

Note: not a lot of teen stars.

It was definitely Lucy's vehicle; she got the best lines and all of the slapstick comedy.   Craig was cute, nicely tanned, with a penchant for wearing shirts open to his navel, but he had only a few lines per episode, and in the first three seasons he had maybe three centrics (episodes devoted to him).  He sang a few times, but usually when sharing a stage with his mother.  After three seasons, he was written out of the series.

They weren't even trying to draw in a youth audience.  Craig is a fan of Frank Sinatra, not the Beatles.  In one episode, Lucy roils when Kim begins dating a boy who graduated from Berkeley -- with all the sit-ins and protests and...

As a result, Here's Lucy seems less hip, less energetic, and with fewer gay subtexts than the earlier Lucy Show.  






No beefcake to speak of.  No bonding.  No symbolism.

But there was a LGBT-positive episode on November 6,  1972.

Phyllis Diller is scheduled to perform at a benefit, but she can't make it, so Kim finds a replacement, female impersonator Jim Bailey.  Lucy  is shocked at the very idea of a man impersonating a woman, but Kim and Craig are perfectly nonchalant.

I was shocked, too; at the age of 11, I had never heard of such a thing before.

In real life, Miss Ball was gay-positive.  Jim Bailey was a friend of hers.