The Real Reason They Couldn't Say Pregnant On I Love Lucy

It's been over half a century since "I Love Lucy" was originally on the air, and the iconic sitcom's comedy has aged remarkably well and is still influential today. Yet aspects of the more prudish era of the 1950s can sometimes crop up in its episodes, and perhaps never as noticeably as the 2nd season episode "Lucy is Enceinte" (via AV Club). The episode, which first aired on December 8th, 1952, was made to write in Lucille Ball's real-life pregnancy, and has Lucy attempt to get her charmingly oblivious husband Ricky — played by real-life husband Desi Arnaz — to figure out that she's pregnant.

However, the word "pregnant" is never uttered in the episode. The CBS executives were heavily against the idea of the episode, in a show where Lucy and Ricky slept in separate twin beds. An episode about Lucy being pregnant was therefore scandalous in their eyes, as it put the idea that the pair were intimate squarely in the spotlight. Eventually, the executives relented, with a compromise: the word "pregnant" was apparently too much to bear, so other words like "expecting" were used instead.

Lucille and Desi feared the show could be canceled

Both Ball and Arnaz were worried that their show would be canceled once Lucy discovered she was pregnant, but they were convinced to write it into the show (via HuffPost). Though many cite "I Love Lucy" as having the first pregnancy story on television, that honor goes to "Mary Kay & Johnny," back in 1948; however, the popularity and influence of "I Love Lucy" was much more significant, so much so that a priest, minister, and rabbi were called in, not to form the punchline of a joke but rather supervise the script to see if it was offensive. All three had no issues, not even with the word "pregnant."

Executives still found it distasteful, opting instead for phrases like "expecting" and "blessed event." Even the episode title resorted to using the French word for "pregnant," which also is never spoken during the episode. The pregnancy storyline took over the next few episodes of the show, a landmark moment for television for a series that has certainly had its fair share of landmark moments.