I Love Lucy was a pioneer show in many ways. Shot on film rather than Kinescope, and in Hollywood rather than New York, the show was a hit with fans, and over the span of six seasons, filmed 180 episodes. The series lives on in syndication, and you can watch I Love Lucy online. The series was created by Jess Oppenheimer, and shopped between NBC and CBS before a sponsor, Philip Morris Cigarettes, signed on. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz became synonymous with their characters on the show, and would even go on to own the films on which the series was shot as part of a deal to keep shooting in Hollywood and on film rather than Kinescope in New York. The series made Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz not only Hollywood stars, but well-regarded business people. Their jointly owned DesiLu Productions would produce and lease space to many other television series. Lucille bought out Desi’s part of the company after their divorce. The company was later sold to Gulf+Western, which was part of Paramount Pictures. Here’s how you can see I Love Lucy streaming online:
How to Watch I Love Lucy Online & Stream the Complete Series
Although not every I Love Lucy episode in existence is available via the traditional streaming services, most of the episodes are available on both Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. Here’s how to watch via either service:
If you have Prime, or if you want to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime, you can watch most episodes of I Love Lucy on your computer right here, or you can watch on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Amazon Video app.
Hulu: If you simply want Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, which includes most episodes of I Love Lucy, you can sign up right here. It costs $7.99 per month for the limited commercials plan or $11.99 per month for the no commercials plan.
Hulu With Live TV: If you want to go from watching I Love Lucy episodes to watching MLB games or other live TV without changing the app, you can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV”. This option gives you access to Hulu’s extensive on-demand library, as well as a bundle of 50-plus live TV channels. It costs $39.99 per month for the plan that includes limited commercials with the on-demand content or $43.99 per month for the plan that includes no commercials with the on-demand content.
Once signed up for either of the above options, you can watch episodes of I Love Lucy on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
How Many I Love Lucy Seasons Are There?
There are six seasons and 180 episodes of I Love Lucy Over the course the series, Lucy and Ethel would scheme and plot against their husbands, cause conflict, and sometimes would get exactly what they were hoping for. The actors on the series, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley would become synonymous with their characters on the series, which has lived on in syndication for more than fifty years.
I Love Lucy Season 1
35 episodes | October 15, 1951 – June 9, 1952
In the first season, Lucy and Ricky are newlyweds getting comfortable with one another. In the season, Lucy and Ethel try to trick their husbands into a fancy anniversary celebration, Lucy thinks Ricky is trying to kill her, Ricky has an audition and he must keep Lucy away from it, and Lucy winds up drunk when she is cast in a TV commercial.
I Love Lucy Season 2
31 episodes | September 15, 1952 – June 29, 1953
Season two deals with more antics from Lucy and Ethel as well as Lucille Ball’s real-life pregnancy. Some of the key episodes include Ricky and Fred switching jobs with Lucy and Ethel, Ricky having sympathy pregnancy symptoms, Lucy giving birth, and a fight betweent he couples when the Ricardos sell a washing machine to the Mertzes.
I Love Lucy Season 3
31 episodes | October 5, 1953 – May 24, 1954
Lucy is left out of a magazine feature on Ricky, the couple can’t resist bragging about their son, Lucy and Ricky make a bet about his French Revue, and Lucy thinks wearing a wig will help her fool Ricky so she can test his fidelity.
I Love Lucy Season 4
30 episodes | October 4, 1954 – May 30, 1955
Lucy plays matchmaker for a friend, Ricky gets a movie audition, Lucy’s mother-in-law visits so she decides to learn Spanish, and Lucy and Ethel head to Palm Springs on vacation where they run into Rock Hudson.
I Love Lucy Season 5
26 episodes | October 3, 1955 – May 14, 1956
Lucy and Ricky finally make it to Los Angeles, where Lucy gets in trouble with the law for stealing John Wayne’s footprints, Lucy gets mixed up in a jewelry heist, Ricky thinks he’s been signed to a radio show, but it’s actually a rodeo, and Lucy struggles to find her birth certificate so she can get a passport for the couple’s trip to Europe.
I Love Lucy Season 6
27 episodes | October 1, 1956 – May 6, 1957
Lucy tries to get Bob Hope to appear on Ricky’s show, Little Ricky has stage fright, the Ricardos and Mertzes celebrate Christmas, in an episode that was colorized for a 1989 broadcast, Lucy convinces Ricky to move out of the city.
What Are the Best I Love Lucy Episodes?
I Love Lucy was nominated for 24 awards and won eight, including four Primetime Emmys. Chock full of both situational and physical comedy as well as bona fide movie star guest stars, I Love Lucy was an immediate hit with fans. The series broke ground in many ways, it was shot on film in Hollywood, it featured an interracial relationship, and would be one of the first to deal with an actress’s real-life pregnancy on the small screen. Here is a list of the best I Love Lucy episodes:
Season 1, Episode 30 “Lucy Does a Commercial”
In 1997, TV Guide put this episode at number two of The 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time. It ranked at number four for the 2009 list. In the episode, Ricky must find a girl to be in a commercial during a show for which he will host. Lucy wants the job, but Ricky refuses.
Season 2, Episode 16 “Lucy Goes to the Hospital”
44 million people tuned in to see the episode in which Little Ricky was born; this was one of the first series to deal with pregnancy, and to deal with the act of childbirth. The show aired on the same day that Lucille Ball gave birth to her son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.
Season 5, Episode 23 “Lucy’s Italian Movie”
This is the episode that is featured in the Julia Roberts hit Pretty Woman; Lucy and Ethel are on the way to Rome when Lucy is offered a movie role, in which she will believes she will be smashing grapes. She goes to a winery and is given the actual job of smashing grapes, and returns to hotel stained blue, only to find that the title for the actual movie role is symbolic and she now can’t be in the film.
Season 4, Episode 8 “Lucy’s Mother-in-Law”
Nominated for a Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television,
Season 4, Episode 17 “L.A. At Last”
Nominated for an Emmy for Best Comedy Writing, the episode has the Ricardo’s finally arriving in Los Angeles. Lucy tries to find stars at a local restaurant and winds up annoying stars William Holden and Eve Arden.
Season 5, Episode 2 “Lucy and John Wayne”
Lucy and Ethel steal John Wayne’s footprints and the police are after them. Movie star John Wayne guest stars.
Season 6, Episode 27 “The Ricardos Dedicate a Statue”
Ricky and Lucy are supposed to dedicate a Revolutionary War statue, only Lucy has destroyed it. This would be the final episode of the 30 minute sit-com. The series would transition into an hour-long format, airing sporadically throughout the year.
Who Are the Actors in the I Love Lucy Cast?
I Love Lucy centered around the schemes and predicaments of Lucy, a woman desperate to get into show business, whose husband was already in show business, but was reluctant to push her into a career. Though at times naïve, Lucy is show to be a dedicated wife and mother. Here are the actors remembered for their starring roles on I Love Lucy
Lucy Ricardo is eager for fame, but portrayed as having very little talent, and primarily causing problems for husband Ricky. This allowed the show to play off of actress Lucille Ball’s talents at clowning and comedy. The role was Lucille Ball’s claim to fame, making her the queen of television comedy for nearly three decades. She would become a pioneer in the industry, not only as an actor; she was the first woman to run her own production company, DesiLu Productions.
Ricky Ricardo is a talented musician and performer from Cuba, who is regularly brought to frustration by his wife. When he becomes annoyed, he speaks in rapid-fire Spanish. Desi Arnaz is best known as Ricky Ricardo, the harried husband of Lucy. After the series,
Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz
Ethel is Lucy’s best friend and co-conspirator. After a Vaudeville career, she and husband Fred have settled down as landlords. She often tries to steer Lucy is the right direction, but then gets pulled into Lucy’s original scheme. Vivian Vance is best known for her role in the series, and would go on to appear with Lucille Ball in several follow-up sit-coms, eventually demanding show writers stop writing her as “Ethel” because she was tired of people on the street calling her by her character’s name.
William Frawley as Fred Mertz
Former soldier and survivor of the Great Depression, Fred is stingy with money. He is a soft touch, though, and although he becomes agitated with the schemes of Lucy and Ethel, stands by the duo. He is especially fond of Little Ricky. Fred is Ricky’s best friend. William Frawley had a long career in Hollywood before the series began, but is best known today for the role of Fred.
Who Are the Top Guest Stars on I Love Lucy?
With a main cast of only four actors, guest stars played a big role in the series. Some of the same actors were used over time to play different parts. Movie stars John Wayne and Rock Hudson would make appearances, along with performers Van Johnson and Bob Hope. In addition, small-screen actors including Margie Liszt, Bob Jellison, Mary Jane Croft, and Charles Lane made appearances throughout the series. Here are the actors remembered for their guest starring roles on I Love Lucy
Mary Emery as Ricky’s mother
Ricky’s mother only appeared in two episodes. Mary Emery is best known for her roles in I Love Lucy and The Millionaire.
Kathryn Card as Mrs. McGillicudy, Lucy’s mother
Much like Lucy, her mother is scatterbrained and somewhat naïve. Kathryn Card is best known for playing Lucy’s mom. Before the show, she was a radio actress, working on radio series including Uncle Walter’s Doghouse and Helpmate.
Mike Mayer and Joe Mayer as Little Ricky, toddler
Mike and Joe Mayer played Little Ricky when the character was a toddler. They are both known for their time on the series.
Richard Keith as Ricky Ricardo, JR
Richard Keith is best known for playing Ricky Jr on I Love Lucy, he also appeared in episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour.
Jerry Hausner as Jerry, Ricky’s agent
Jerry Hausner played Ricky’s agent on the show. Hausner had a long career in Hollywood as a supporting cast member in several series; he is best known for his film work, including Paths of Glory and Off Limits.
Elizabeth Patterson, various characters
Elizabeth Patterson played a town mayor as well as Lucy’s friend, Matilda, on the show. Patterson is best known for playing Miss Copeland in Dinner at Eight and Aunt Blanche in the Bulldog Drummond films.
Barbara Pepper as various characters
Barbara Pepper is best known for the role of Doris Ziffel in the TV series Green Acres. She played a variety of character in I Love Lucy.
Mary Wickes character tried to teach Lucy to dance. Mary Wickes is best known for playing Sister Mary Lazarus in the Sister Act films. She also played Emma in White Christmas.
Who Are the Writers & Creators Behind I Love Lucy?
Like many series of its era, the supporting crew of I Love Lucy did not change much throughout the series. Jess Oppenheimer not only created and produced the series but was also a writer for the first five seasons, along with Madelyn Pugh Davis, and when Lucille Ball became pregnant and wanted to remain in California to film, she and Desi Arnaz became owners of the actual film on which the show was shot, making them producers, as well. Here are the producers and writers remembered for the part in I Love Lucy:
Jess Oppenheimer I Love Lucy, Creator, Producer and Writer
Jess Oppenheimer is best known for his work on I Love Lucy. He not only created the series, but he was also the producer and the head writer through the first five seasons. He began his show biz career writing for the likes of Fred Astaire and Jack Benny. His first series writing job was on a series called Baby Snooks, which starred Lucille Ball. This led to his creation of I Love Lucy. In addition to writing and producing, Oppenheimer was an inventor, including an in-the-lens teleprompter system, similar to what is still used today.
Desi Arnaz was the executive producer of the show, and also an 80% owner of the I Love Lucy films, along with Lucille Ball. This occurred when Lucille and Desi insisted that the show be shot on film and in Hollywood, rather than via kinescopes and in New York, because of Lucille’s pregnancy.
Madelyn Pugh Davis I Love Lucy, Writer
Madelyn Pugh Davis took on the reins of head writer, along with Bob Carroll, Jr, beginning in season six. She wrote for the series throughout the run, and made the transition into the revamped, hour long comedy show, The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour.
Bob Carroll, JR I Love Lucy, Writer
Bob Carroll, JR wrote for the series throughout the run, but took on the head writer position, along with Madelyn Pugh Davis, beginning in season six. He also made the transition into the revamped, hour long comedy show, The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour. He would go on to write for series including Alice and Here’s Lucy.
Bob Schiller (linked) I Love Lucy, Writer
Bob Schiller began writing for the series in season five, and would remain with the show through the transition to The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour.
Bob Weiskopf I Love Lucy, Writer
Bob Weiskopf wrote for the series in seasons five and six, and would remain with the production team through the transition to The Lucy and Desi Comedy Hour. He would go on to write for series including All in the Family and Maude.
Where I Love Lucy Ranks in the Television Pantheon
I Love Lucy spent four seasons as the number one series on television, and didn’t finish any of its six seasons lower than third place in the rankings. 44 million viewers tuned in to the episode when Lucy gave birth to Little Ricky, and when the series went off the air in 1957, it was the number one series in the country. It is ranked 3rd on TV Guide’s 60 Best Series of All Time and ranked 2nd in the magazines Fifty Best Shows of All Time. The series landed at #32 of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. Lucille Ball had to fight the network heads to have Desi cast as her husband because he was a Cuban American and she was white. In addition, the series was one of the first to depict a woman giving birth, DesiLu productions became a force in Hollywood, as a production company and a studio rental firm, and Lucille Ball was the first woman to run a production company after she bought out Desi’s shared of the company. The series was nominated for 25 awards and would win 4 Emmys, including Best Situation Comedy, and several Best Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actor, Actress awards.