I Love Lucy S01 E28 – Cuban Pals

(Or: Lucy Tries to Help Trump Build a Wall)

Original air date: April 21, 1952

Ballers, did you see the debate? No, not the Republican debate. I mean the debate over who should play Ricky in the new Lucy biopic. I suppose if it can’t be me (and it can’t), one of those guys would do.

We open on Lucy fixing the flowers because her life is interesting. She’s also setting up hors d’oeuvres. (I HATE the phrase “hors d’oeuvres.” It’s impossible. I almost took up French just so I didn’t feel stupid trying to spell it. My dad calls them “horse divers.” I prefer the spelling “Whore Dervs,” which is also the name of my favorite slutty diesel engine road vehicle.)

“I feel really good about spending 5 hours on 2 bites of food.”

“I feel really good about spending 5 hours on 2 bites of food.”

OMG where the hell was I? Right, some of Ricky’s friends are coming over from Cuba, and Lucy’s nervous. Either she’s scared they won’t like her, or she’s afraid they’ll get arrested by ICE, separated from each other and their children, and detained without trial at a makeshift prison in Hackensack. Both would be truly tragic.

But Carlos and Maria Ortega arrive without problems. Fortunately for them, they don’t speak any English, so they can’t hear Lucy be so into herself. Homegirl goes on and on about how she decorated the apartment and made the food.

We get it, Lucy, you don’t have to work. Keep bragging to your immigrant friends about how posh your life is.

Realizing the language barrier, Lucy goes full Ugly American on the Ortegas:

Lucy (shouting): Would you like-o el drink-o?

Did you know the actors who played Carlos and Maria both died in Burbank within the same month of each other? I’ll bet you didn’t know that, and now you feel a little sad, but not that sad. And now you feel a little weird about how not sad you feel. But that’s mortality. We all die.

In this scene, Desi commits one of the best bloopers ever. The show filmed live, but it didn’t air live. They could have edited this out. They didn’t, and we should all be grateful:

It turns out, there’s another Cuban in town (See? The Republicans are right, it’s exponential growth.) This Renita chick used to dance with Ricky, and now she needs him to dance with her in the show at the club tomorrow.

She shows up and she’s HOT. Lucy almost gets a pink triangle tattoo and changes her name to Ellen, she’s so into this girl. But then she realizes Renita might be serious competition.

Renita (re: Ricky): I can’t get over how he’s developed!
Lucy: You’ve done pretty well yourself.

Lucy’s jealous, and the next day she vents to Fred and Ethel about the “sexy Cuban girl.”

Fred: Sexy Cuban girl!?
Ethel: Put your eyes back in your head, fatso.

I don’t really get why they can say “sexy,” but not “pregnant.”

What do they think the first three letters of that word lead to? Ingrown backhair?

Things might have gone better if Renita hadn’t introduced herself by showing off her cup size.

Things might have gone better if Renita hadn’t introduced herself by showing off her cup size.

Lucy and Ethel decide to spy on Ricky, so they dress as washwomen at the club in order to watch the rehearsal. Somehow, even though these ladies spend every waking second washing their own homes, the minute they step outside they can’t hold a bucket without looking like Harry and Marv breaking into Kevin’s house.

But Lucy sees enough to be very, very worried. So she gets Fred to fake being a taxi driver so he can drive Renita to Philadelphia…and I guess just, like, leave her there or something.

The rest of Renita’s sad tale will be featured in the upcoming Lifetime Movie Fat Cabbie Murder: The Renita Perez Story.

Fred is the spokesmodel for why Uber needs better regulations.

Fred is the spokesmodel for why Uber needs better regulations.

We cut to the club, where they’re doing some sort of “African” dance and just embarrassing themselves. I mean there’s been a lot of African/Cuban crossover in music and dance, but this is the Africa of Taylor Swift videos and non-existent Epcot pavilions.

Ricky sings his “African” tune in film noir-style and I’m more bored than I get when people talk about Deflategate.

But then Lucy comes in, dressed in a gown to do the original number. Unfortunately, they’ve changed the show, so now it’s a tribal dance. Her new dance partner jumps out at her in brownface and chases her around.

As a white woman I’m offended. I mean, they’re completely blocking Nancy the Harpist from view.

As a white woman I’m offended. I mean, they’re completely blocking Nancy the Harpist from view.

Ironically, it ends with Lucy playing the pretty white lady running from the minority man who’s pretending to kill her.

While somewhere in Philadelphia, there’s a pretty Cuban lady running from a white cabbie who’s actually killing her.

Let’s all give CBS a slow clap on this one, shall we?

Join me next week for S01 E29: The Freezer. New posts every Friday!

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Pour Lucy. (Do you guys get it???)

Pour Lucy… (Get it???)

4 thoughts on “I Love Lucy S01 E28 – Cuban Pals

  1. Megan says:

    Hey there! I recently discovered your blog, and it is hilarious! I am a huge I Love Lucy fan and own the series on DVD. So I have a question about this episode, “Cuban Pals.” I was watching it on TV the other day (because although I own the series, I still watch the reruns on TV…kinda sad, I know), and I noticed a strange gesture of Ricky’s. When he and Renita are practicing “Lady in Red,” he lifts up his leg and taps his fists together in front of his….crotch area. And he has a weird look on his face. Have you noticed this? What does this mean?? I feel like it’s a “Desi moment.” I tried researching it. (And by “researching” I mean I googled it and then gave up after 3 minutes.)
    Thanks for any insight on this!
    Looking forward to your next episode review!


  2. Ron says:

    Love how Lucy — in a failed attempt to blend into the nightclub crowd — sits down at a couple’s table and somehow thinks it’s acceptable to smoke the woman’s cigarette holder. Lucy’s prima donna behavior and entitled attitude this episode was so over the top that she deserved her fate: to have Ricky emerge from behind the curtain and scare the wits out of her, then carry the fainted Lucy away so she wouldn’t cause any more trouble


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