Pluto TV, I love you!
I don’t know about where you live, but in my area, I Love Lucy reruns were on our local TV station at 9 am every weekday for as long as I can remember. Two back-to-back episodes, 9:00 and 9:30. Through my childhood, through the decades of my twenties, thirties, and forties, right up until a few years ago when we didn’t have “regular TV” anymore.
It’s hard to explain how much this regularity was an essential part of the Lucy experience for me. Even now I have a warm and safe feeling that’s associated specifically with 9 am.
Then over a period of a few years that kind of TV wasn’t a thing anymore. Instead, we had the option of streaming. Every episode of Lucy and other old shows were at our fingertips — either free or to purchase for a small price. What could be better than that?
Well, I’ll tell you what’s better than that — the way it used to be! Choosing full episodes of Lucy and watching them intentionally somehow ruined it for me. I still loved the show itself, but did not find the same joy in watching it. I realized that the randomness was a key part of the experience.
Back in the day, I could turn on the TV any time between nine and ten and see what Lucy was “doing.” It could be any episode, any time. And I could jump right in and feel like I was there too.
There was a cozy commonality I found in the “you turn on the TV and there’s Lucy” phenomenon. I loved that there was a reference to it in one of my favorite books, Anywhere but Here by Mona Simpson. It’s a scene where the main character is home sick from school:
“When I woke up, snow fell softly at the window and the black and white television was on. Lucy and Ethel were trying to steal John Wayne’s footprints from the cement outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in old Hollywood.”
And later that same day:
“I was still watching television, another “I Love Lucy,” an older one back in New York.”
And it wasn’t just Lucy. There were many shows that I got to know that way, by dropping in on partial episodes over the years and eventually watching whole series, only in bits and pieces. Sometimes a person doesn’t necessarily want coherence.