Whoever said women can’t be funny has never seen Molly Shannon perform. This actress, comedienne, and Saturday Night Live alum have been making audiences laugh for more than twenty years.
Her new autobiography, entitled Hello, Molly!: A Memoir, which was co-written with Sean Wilsey, was published last month. Her life was forever changed at the age of four when her mother, younger sister, and cousin were killed in a car crash. Her father was behind the wheel. Raising his surviving daughters as best he could, Molly had a unique childhood that opened the door to her future career as a performer. While becoming a celebrated actor/comedienne, she struggled with the loss of her mother and her complicated relationship with her father.
I loved this book. It is candid, it is funny, and it speaks to the power of belief and rising above tragedy. What hooked me was her ability to deal with grief in a way that was not overpowering or stopped her from living.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
P.S. I cannot end this post without talking about my favorite character of Molly’s, Mary Katherine Gallagher. Mary Katherine was the rare comedic combination of insecure, fearless, and not afraid to be herself. The comedy love child of Lucille Ball and Chris Farley, this character never failed to make me laugh.
Hello, Molly!: A Memoir is available wherever books are sold.
I Love Lucy is one of those television programs we have all seen. The antics of wannabe performer Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) have kept audiences howling with laughter for seventy years.
The new movie, Being the Ricardos, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, is a biopic that takes audiences into one turbulent week of the personal and professional lives of Ball (Nicole Kidman) and her then-husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem). While trying to go through the weekly process of putting together a show, issues in Ball and Arnaz’s home lives complicate matters. Lucy is pregnant again and trying to figure out how this change will be worked into the program, if at all. She also suspects that her husband is (again) cheating on her. To make matters infinitely worse, the McCarthy witch hunts have accused her of being a communist. If these allegations are proven true, everything that Lucy and Desi have worked for will be destroyed.
One thing that I greatly appreciated is the conversation between Ball and co-writer Madelyn Pugh (Alia Shawkat). Pugh points out that Lucy Ricardo is often infantilized, needing Ricky’s permission as if she was his daughter and not his spouse. The character is both a product of her era and an early feminist, pushing boundaries in a time when the ideal life of a woman was that of a wife and mother.
My main issue is not that Sorkin took liberties with the timeline of events. He is not the first and will not be the last screenwriter to do so. It is that this film is not as good as it could have been. It started to drag in at about the 2/3rds mark. By that point, I was starting to get a little antsy. Is this film entertaining and engaging? I would say so. Is it spectacular? No.
Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.
Being the Ricardos is in theaters and available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
These days, divorce, re-marriage and blended families are completely normal. But that does not guarantee that these new blended families will get along.
In the 2005 film, Yours, Mine & Ours (a reboot of the 1968 Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda film, Yours, Mine and Ours) Admiral Frank Beardsley (Dennis Quaid) is a widower with ten children. His military lifestyle has extended to his home life, using it as a way to keep order in his large and busy household. Helen North (Rene Russo) is a widowed artist with an equally large household, though her children live a much freer lifestyle than Frank’s children.
Former high school sweethearts, Frank and Helen reunite after decades of separation. They quickly decide to get married, which does not sit well with their respective children. Though Frank and Helen are in the throes of love, their children are not so in love with the additions to their family and make a plan to end the marriage.
As movies go, this movie hovers somewhere between mildly charming and harmless. It’s not the most cerebral of films, but it is also the kind of film that one can watch on a rainy weekend afternoon and not feel like one has wasted two hours of their time.
Art has one of two roles when it comes to reflecting the reality of the world we live in: it either reflects an ideal world which more often than not, is impossible to reach. Or, it reflects the reality of the normal person going about their business.
It should be no surprise that for most of history, men have controlled everything, including art. But in the world of television, change is finally coming.
She starts off the book with nods to the unappreciated female OG’s of television (Gertrude Berg and Lucille Ball) and then moves forward to acknowledge the groundbreaking 1990s shows Murphy Brown (led by Diane English) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr). She then talks about how modern female showrunners and producers are changing the portrayal of women on television. The list of women profiled in the book includes uber-successful producer Shonda Rhimes and actress/comedian Amy Schumer.
I really loved this book. Not only is it well written, but it speaks to the woman who is looking for the courage to follow her own path, even if it means diverging from the tried and true. I also appreciated the shout-out to Gertrude Berg whose name is unknown to most modern television audiences (unless that is, you are above a certain age), but with her trail-blazing path, the television industry would not be what it is today.
I Love Lucy is one of those television shows. We have all seen (and laughed hysterically) at least one episode. But the image of the happy television marriage of the Ricardo’s was not the exact truth of the lives of the then IRL married actors who played them, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
The 2003 television movie, Lucy, stars Rachel York as Lucille Ball and Danny Pino as Desi Arnaz. Taking the audience behind the camera to the real lives of actors who would become television icons, the movie tells the story of their stormy marriage and the television show they would create to keep their marriage and their family from falling apart.
As biopics go, this one is not bad. While some biopics try to gloss over the negative traits of their subjects, this one doesn’t. What I like about this movie and the characterization of Lucy and Desi, is that it is simply the story of a couple trying to make their marriage work. Regardless of our marital states, we can all relate to trying to make our relationships work, whether it is with a significant other, a parent, a friend, etc.
This past Saturday, October 15th, marked the 65th anniversary of the premiere of I Love Lucy.
I Love Lucy is and will forever be a classic. There is no one on planet Earth who has not seen or at least heard of I Love Lucy.
The premise of the show is simple: Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) is a homemaker whose career ambitions go well beyond her apartment door. But her bandleader husband Ricky (Lucille Ball’s then IRL husband, Desi Arnaz) seems to be preventing her from achieving her goals. The results of Lucy trying to start a career at her husband’s behest against her working produced hilarious results. Add in the comedy back up of their landlords Fred and Ethel Mertz (Vivian Vance and William Frawley) and there is nothing but comedy gold.
This show is more than iconic and a classic. This show is a trendsetter that still influences television decades after it went off the air. Lucy and Desi created the television industry as we know it to be today. Lucille Ball, in addition to being an icon for many redheads (myself included), was not just the star. She started the studio that produced her show and many other classic television shows. She was clearly the HBIC and respected for her work, in front and behind the camera. Without Lucille Ball, there would be no women in comedy. Carol Burnett, Roseanne, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey, etc, would have never had careers in comedy without Lucy paving the way.
While Lucy meekly agreed at the end of every episode to return to her homemaker status, millions of women and young girls did not meekly agree to just become wives and mothers. That generation of women paved the way for future generations of women to stand up for their rights and their accomplishments.
I Love Lucy also represented the future of the country. It was the first television show to depict an interracial marriage. Quite a feat when the only people of color on television in the 1950’s were household servants.
There is something about turning on the television and putting on a classic that no matter how many times you’ve seen it, it still make you laugh.
Happy Birthday, I Love Lucy. Here is to another 65 years.
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