We’ve got some ‘splaining to do:
It’s March 2nd, which means today, actor/musician/pioneer/Cuban/handsome person Desi Arnaz would have been 95 years old. That’s minbdblowing, considering that I Love Lucy is still one of the only shows that I absolutely must watch: if I’m flipping through the channels, and there’s an episode of Lucy on, I cannot change the channel. If there’s a marathon on, nothing will get done that day.
About half a century ago, America felt the same way. What remains so incredible to me, even after spending so much of my childhood on my abuela’s rug in front of the TV watching I Love Lucy, is that the character Ricky Ricardo remains one of the most sympathetic, normalized, positive examples of a Latino character on television ever. No, seriously, he is: here was a Cuban actor playing a Cuban character with a Cuban accent and spoke Cuban Spanish…married to a white woman and working in New York and nobody on the show ever really makes a big deal about that. Because why should they? It’s an inspiration more TV should look to. (By the way, Sofia Vergara on Modern Family is the closest thing we have these days to what Arnaz was doing and it’s awesome.)
Speaking of Cuban Spanish, it showed up a lot over the course of I Love Lucy’s run, usually to hilarious effect. Here are my picks for The 5 Best Ricky Ricardo Spanish Moments.
05. Ricky’s Spanish Freakout
Ricky, like all of our mothers, is known for getting mad in Spanish. This is the best.
04. Arroz con Pollo
Okay, so Ricky’s not actually in this clip, but his commitment to poking fun at the realities – not the stereotypes – of multiculturalism in the States is all over it.
03. Ricky translates for Lucy
Ricky not only addresses bad habits people have speaking to those who don’t understand them, he takes advantage of Lucy’s lack of Spanish and even gets caught up in English himself. In its own way, this clip is extremely American.
02. Ricky’s Bedtime Story
Honorable Mention: Ricky’s English Lesson
Not Spanish, but still amazing.
Feliz cumple, Desi! We miss you!