And the answer: I Love Lucy.
Lucy, I’m home! Lucille Ball and Cuban-born Desi Arnaz were true TV pioneers, and worked hard to pitch I Love Lucy to CBS—even going on tour to prove their success before the show was officially greenlit. Featuring the first interracial married couple on TV, I Love Lucy premiered on October 15, 1951.
Although it’s been 71 years since the initial airing of I Love Lucy, some 40 million Americans enjoy episodes of the show every year. In many ways, the show was a trailblazer in the industry—from being the first Hollywood production to use a three-camera format in front of a live audience, to depicting an interracial relationship onscreen for the first time in the United States. The show spanned six seasons and over 180 episodes, averaging around 44 million viewers at its peak.
Did you know?
Yesterday, October 15, marks the date that I Love Lucy premiered in 1951! The show was the first to end its run while still in the number one spot in the Nielsen ratings—a position that it held for a whopping four out of the six seasons it aired.
Lucille Ball helped change industry standards in other ways, when the star discovered she was pregnant during season two. At this point in history, no visibly pregnant woman had ever starred on a TV series, which created a dilemma for their up-and-coming show. Network producers toyed around with the ideas of putting off the following season or concealing the pregnancy, but ultimately, neither option appeared feasible. Eventually, the network decided to write Lucy’s pregnancy into the show—a fact that only heightened the emotional intensity of Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s relationship on screen, as they were also married in real life! Incredibly, Lucille and Desi’s child was born on the same night that the birth of her onscreen son, Little Ricky, aired to millions of viewers.
Learn more about the history and background of I Love Lucy here.