The sitcom that by now is almost a synonym for “classic” got that way by doing all the things that everyone at the time knew you weren’t supposed to do. You couldn’t have a female star who was both attractive and funny. You couldn’t have her male lead be an urban Latino—playing those devil conga drums at that!—whose Cuban accent was thicker than a platter of ropa vieja. You couldn’t for God’s sake build a storyline around a (gasp!) pregnancy. Lucille Ball’s contributions to TV’s past are so obvious—Vitameatavegamin, the Tropicana Club, the slapstick routines—that it’s better to note what this show says about today’s future: sometimes the greatest sign of a future-classic TV show is that it doesn’t look like classic TV.
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