Being the Ricardos: What truly happened and what is fiction?

One of Hollywood’s most famous couples has made a great comeback in the movie industry but, apparently, not everything is what it seems. This is the truth vs. fiction of the Oscar nominated movie.

Celebrities’ scandalous lives have always been well-received by the public since the media appeared. We all like to know everything about our idols and in this case, who wouldn’t want to be informed about what the great comedian Lucille Ball was doing and thinking?

“Being the Ricardos” turned out to be a great biographical drama that takes the audience through three very important moments in Ball’s career - her alleged link to communism, her pregnancy, and her husband’s affairs; all of them developed through her thoughts and in a time frame of only 5 days of filming their famous tv sitcom, “I love Lucy”. But although the whole plot is constructed over real-life events, there are some bits and pieces that the creators decided to adjust for the movie’s dramatic purposes, and here we have some of them explained.


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Who were the Ricardos?

They were the main couple of “I love Lucy” (Lucy and Ricky Ricardo), starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz 12 years after they got married in 1940.


Lucy is very talented musical-wise. In her school years, she participated in drama plays, recitals, and played different instruments like the saxophone and ukulele.

When she met and married Ricky, a Cuban conga drummer, she became a housewife despite her desires of performing and being in front of the public. So basically, this series follows the life of Lucy Ricardo and how she plans, next to her friends Ethel and Fred Mertz, to be included in Ricky’s nightclub music show and be part of the business, even if her husband preferred her not to.


How accurate is the time frame?

The whole movie is set in 1952, when the series has already aired and the United States is in a postwar moment from World War II, at the same time an anti-communism movement is going strong within American society.

According to what is seen on screen, the characters are in the making process of the episode “Fred and Ethel fight”, which in fact was released in 1952 but instead of being the 38th episode of the season, it was actually the 22nd and the three main events that are portrayed throughout the movie, in reality, occurred years after 1952.


Relationship with Communism

Lucille Ball had more to do with the Communist party than the actual movie presents. In the story, she just claims to have filled out a ballot in their favor just to please her socialist grandfather when in real life, she did more than just tick a box. Some investigators found out that she also signed an affiliation certificate, sponsored a communist in his run for Congress, was a delegate to the State Central Committee of the Communist Party of California, and actually hosted party meetings in her own house.

Additionally, the part when J. Edgar Hoover provides his phone testimony in defense of Lucille was also something that the movie creators added to the story but didn’t really happen, even though he was good friends with Lucille and Desi.


Desi’s Affair

The main difference in this aspect is mainly the article that unveiled it all. Instead of being titled “Desi’s night out”, where they focus on a one-time thing to create the scandal, the real version was Confidential’s “Does Dasi really love Lucy?” and in here the accused was said to have multiple affairs that, along with his drunkenness, supposedly ended up being the main reason behind the couple´s divorce on May 4, 1960.

This article was part of the January 1955 issue and had on the front cover the photo of the married couple hugging above the scandalous title. The publication contained the narration of one of Dasi’s extramarital encounters, while also adding some details of other compromising situations in which the actor was discovered to be involved.


As you can see, the drama between these two characters was intense in and out of this movie. For the most part, the highlights of their careers have been presented in a way that stays true to their overall story while also remaining attractive for the audience to watch all the way through. The scenery, the customization of the characters, and how they developed the story is still very good, so despite these minor details, “Being the Ricardos” does pull you closer into the lives of these well-known celebrities from the 50s.

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