Abstract

The ideology of mass consumer culture is central to all the levels of the Lucy phenomenon: in individual episodes that revolve around commodities, in the "good life" portrayed in the series, in Ball's public persona as "just a housewife," in the myriad of products tied to the series in the fifties (comic books, paper dolls, furniture, clothes), as a syndicated series, and in the nostalgic products popular today. At the core of the phenomenon is a juxtaposition of public and private embodied in both the character of Lucy and her creator, the popular public woman Lucille Ball. A textual reading of the episode "Lucy Does a TV Commercial" in the contexts of other aspects of the Lucy phenomenon (Ball's public persona, audience knowledge of the "real" marriage of Ball and Arnaz), and other popular articulations of gender and middle-class life in the postwar era suggests how the Lucy phenomenon was framed by and broke the frames of commodification. Overall, the series offers consumption as the solution to Lucy's dissatisfaction, an example of the consumerist-ethos that presented private solutions to public problems. However, at the same time that the phenomenon participated in the mass consumer economy, the show's comedy played on conflicts and anxieties about consumption and domesticity.

Additional Information

ISSN
2151-7371
Print ISSN
2151-7363
Pages
pp. 25-47
Launched on MUSE
1999-06-01
Open Access
No
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