- The Lucille Ball biopic “Being the Ricardos” doesn’t have a happy ending.
- Writer-director Aaron Sorkin told Insider that the best story is one “you think you know.”
- The phrase “Lucy, I’m home” has a powerful impact in the film.
“Being the Ricardos” puts audiences in front of iconic comedian Lucille Ball’s life during a high-pressure week of production on the hit 1950s sitcom “I Love Lucy,” and if writer/director Aaron Sorkin has done his job, it will change the way you think about the show’s famous line “Lucy, I’m home” forever.
In the film’s final scenes, Lucille (portrayed by Nicole Kidman) and her husband Desi Arnaz (portrayed by Javier Bardem) are preparing to go in front of a live audience to film an episode of “I Love Lucy” after Desi has publically proven to the audience that Lucille was cleared of any association with the communist party by calling FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
Desi expects Lucille to be elated, but she begins questioning him about a handkerchief she found in his suit that has lipstick on it that is not her shade. When Desi tries to convince Lucille that it’s hers, she produces a handkerchief with her actual lipstick shade on it.
It’s the moment Lucille knows that her marriage is over. So, minutes later when they are filming “I Love Lucy,” Lucille misses her cue when Desi says the line, “Lucy, I’m home.”
In an interview with Insider, Sorkin said that the Kidman wears a smile on her face at the end of the film because “the irony is unbearable” for her. “She just has to stop in front of the studio audience and they have to start again,” he said.
Throughout the film, Sorkin “set the table” for the phrase “Lucy, I’m home” to have such a powerful impact at the end.
“On her first date with Desi, she talks about having a home as her ambition,” Sorkin said.
During a tense night trying to fix a scene that isn’t working in the episode, Lucille tells Vivian Vance (portrayed by Nina Arianda) and William Frawley (portrayed by J.K. Simmons) that she “did the show to save her marriage” and “figured the construction department will build us a little apartment and that’s where we live,” Sorkin said.
Sorkin could have easily ended “Being the Ricardos” with a triumphant embrace between the couple as they go out to film the show. The pair didn’t actually get divorced until 1960.
But Sorkin was not interested in telling the glossy version of Ball’s story filled with iconic Lucy Ricardo moments that he knew the audience expected to see.
“The only thing better than a story you don’t know is a story you think you know,” he said.
Sorkin purposefully stayed away from recreating the most memorable scenes from the sitcom for a specific reason. “I didn’t want it to feel like, okay, now Billy Joel’s going to play ‘Piano Man.’ I didn’t want it to feel like this is ‘I Love Lucy’s’ greatest hits,” he said.
You can stream “Being the Ricardos” now on Amazon Prime.