The Most Watched Episode of 'I Love Lucy' and the Highest-Rated Are 2 Different Episodes

I Love Lucy turns 70 years old in October. The famed comedy had a simple premise. Lucy Ricardo and her musician husband, Ricky Ricardo, often were at odds over Lucy’s desperate interest in show business. Along the way, they loved and laughed and developed a deep bond with their neighbors, Fred and Ethel Mertz. The show seemed simple enough, but decades later, it still endures and is still picking up new fans. There is a reason for that. I Love Lucy was a trailblazing sitcom. The birth of Little Ricky Ricardo was watched by almost the entire United States and was considered the TV event of the year. While that was a big deal in the 1950s, today’s fans don’t really love the episode. 

‘I Love Lucy’ made history in the 1950s 

I Love Lucy wasn’t a television hit like the hits of today. With limited competition, tight writing, and a compelling story, the series drew a large percentage of the population every week. One episode, though, drew more eyes than any other television event at the time of its airing. On Jan. 19, 1953, nearly 75% of homes with a TV tuned in to see Lucy and Ricky welcome their son. “Lucy Goes to the Hospital” drew about 44 million viewers and remains one of the most-watched television events of all time. 

While most of the United States tuned in to see it happen together, contemporary fans of the series can take or leave the episode. Fans of today have given the episode just 8.6 out of 10 stars, making it just the 76th most popular episode of the entire show. Today’s fans consider it decidedly middle-of-the-road, at best. 

Fans don’t really love ‘Lucy Goes to the Hospital’; they prefer other episodes 

“Lucy Goes to the Hospital” might have been the most-watched television show in history up until that point, but it isn’t an episode that excites fans, at least not in current times. While the show is considered a classic, and there is merit to most of its 180 episodes, several episodes have emerged as clear favorites.

According to IMDb, the iconic season 1 episode, “Lucy Does a Commercial,” is highest-rated episode. More than 700 users have weighed in, and they rate the episode as a solid 9.6 out of 10 stars. The episode includes the iconic “Vitameatavegamin” scene. The scene is so recognizable that it has been recreated dozens of times, perhaps most notably by Debra Messing in Will & Grace

Right behind it at 9.5 stars out of 10 stars is “Job Switching.” The season 2 episode came just two episodes after “Lucy Does a Commercial” and has a pretty similar feel. In the episode, Lucy and Ethel score jobs at a candy factory but find out quickly that it isn’t as easy as it seems. To keep up with the conveyor belt, Lucy and Ethel both shove as much chocolate into their mouths, aprons, and hats as possible before their superior comes back in the room. 

Was Lucille Ball the first pregnant woman on TV?

Contemporary fans of I Love Lucy consider the birth episode largely boring, and that’s probably because nothing of note happens. In the 1950s, featuring a pregnant woman on television was almost unheard of, and featuring birth was particularly taboo. For years, it has been assumed that I Love Lucy was the first show to dare feature a real-time pregnancy. The event was groundbreaking. I Love Lucy might not have been the first to do it, though. 

According to several sources, Mary Kay and Johnny, a 1948 sitcom, featured a birth, too. Episodes of the sitcom have been lost to time, so it’s nearly impossible to say for sure. Mary Kay and Johnny, which also featured a married couple living in New York, might have been a pioneer in other ways, too. The obscure series was the first show to feature a married couple sleeping in the same bed. It would be decades before another network showed a shared bed. 

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