|"The Awful Truth" is awfully good at testing and poking fun at the supposed restrictions of Hollywood's Production Code. Adultery is handled and expressed through small details that do all the work. For instance, at the start we see a worried Jerry in attempts to get a tan, lying under lights at a health club. He supposedly as been in Florida for two weeks, but his pale skin seems to say otherwise (Clip One). When he comes home, with an elaborate fruit basket "straight from Florida", the camera zooms in on a quizzical Lucy examining the oranges, which have "Made in California" stickers on them. She of course similarly comes in that day with her lover bemoaning that they were stuck at a motor lodge so far outside of the city for the night. Neither Jerry nor Lucy believe the other and agree to get divorced. There are many other borderline close calls to the violation of the code. For example, Jerry's showgirl girlfriend gives a scandalous performance, a throwback to the picture of Marilyn Monroe's skirt flying up over a sidewalk duct.
The movie also explores some of the more subliminal class distinctions. It makes a distinction between the rich and the classy. Though Lucy's fiancÚ is a rich oil tycoon, her choice makes her vulnerable to Jerry's teasing that she will become a country bumpkin, "And if you get bored in Oklahoma City, you can always go over to Tulsa for the weekend!" Typical of many screwball heroines, it seems Lucy enjoys being with him only because she can easily control him when his mother, who is of the meddling sort, is not controlling him.