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I Love Lucy was just about the most famous show in the history of television, but the dramatic behind-the-scenes story stayed off screen, until now. Amazon Studios’ Being the Ricardos incorporates several of the true stories of Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman), Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) and their staff. Only writer-director Aaron Sorkin sets them all in one week.
In Season 2 of I Love Lucy, Ball gets two pieces of troubling news on a Monday: A magazine reports that Arnaz has been seen around town with another woman, and Walter Winchell discovers that Ball had once applied to be a member of the Communist party, sharing that news with his audience.
Ball and Arnaz show up to work to start the episode; Lucy fans will recognize the episode in which Lucy orchestrates a dinner party for Fred and Ethel to bring a reconciliation to the bickering couple. Staff writers and actors Vivian Vance (Nina Arianda) and William Frawley (J.K. Simmons) are aware of the Winchell news too, but Ball and Arnaz want to get to work. Arnaz suggests it was a mistake on a form Ball filled out, but Ball does not appreciate the implication that she can’t fill out paperwork on her own.
They spend the week working on the episode, while Ball feuds with director Donald Glass (Christopher Denham) over the physical comedy. Ball and Arnaz also propose they incorporate Ball’s current pregnancy into the show; fans will also remember they succeeded, but it was a controversial step in network television.
All of these events did happen over the course of I Love Lucy’s run at different times. Sorkin also incorporated other classic Lucy bits, like the grape-stomping at a vineyard, to create a portrait of Ball and Arnaz at work and in their marriage.
Being the Ricardos opened in theaters on December 10 and premiered on Prime Video on December 21. Sorkin’s screenplay is nominated for Critics Choice and was nominated for a Golden Globe, where Kidman won the Best Actress – Drama prize this weekend.
Click below to read Sorkin’s screenplay.
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