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40 years of heapin’ helpings of their hospitality- HILLBILLY, that is

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Forty years ago, September, 26, 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies debuted on CBS. It was also Donna Douglas‘ 29th birthday, making Elly May now 69 years old!

For the next nine years, the Clampett clan provided the greatest sustained run of satire in the history of the television medium to date. The mockery was mostly at the expense of the Beverly Hills crowd, except for that which swung Jethro’s way. See, the main way you knew that Jethro was an idiot was because he wanted very badly to be like these city folk.

These hillbillies gave some of the best parodies of 60s culture as it was happening, broader reaching and more detailed (if gentler) than even Frank Zappa. For example, note the prescient hippy story arc, and just how quickly, thoroughly, and precisely the beatniks -even cool Clyde laying on the couch- sold out when Jed finally tired of the Groovy Granny phase.

At least half a dozen characters from this show have achieved status as historical icons. Granny, Miss Hathaway, Jethro, et al have become classic cultural archetypes. Many country folk identify especially with Daisy Mae Moses as an idealized version of our own granny women.

They have never gotten proper credit from the supposed intellectual class. They were especially and throughly despised by critics, who were no doubt grossly enamored of some supposedly “sophisticated” fare that no one cares about now. Though it was still in the top 20, the show was unceremoniously dumped during the summer of 1971 without even getting to do any kind of final episode. Apparently this was largely because network executive types finally got tired of being mocked for their hick show at their fancy Beverly Hills parties. Mrs. Drysdale finally did manage to run off those beastly hillbillies.

Us hayseeds continue to have the last laugh. Of course, the show was designed for all us folk in flyover country in the first place. There’s more of us than there are of them, and the show remains a beloved favorite of many tens of millions of people over several generations who got the jokes better than the supposed smart guys. It’ll still be running a hundred years from now. So, y’all come back now, y’hear?

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  • http://rodneywelch.blogspot.com/ Rodney Welch

    I never found the show funny, partly because the writing was shallow and the acting was crude. The best shows of what might be called the rural genre were the Andy Griffith Show and Green Acres, both of which remain tremendously funny because everyone involved seemed to have some idea of life out there in what you call flyover country. The Hillbilly people were just clueless.

  • Ma Dee

    Yeah. I really liked the song. Can you post the lyrics? Bubblin’ words, that is… print gold…

  • http://markcmorris.blogspot.com Mark Morris

    Woooooo doggies! I’m glad to see this show is still held in high regards by some people. Jed Clampett still makes me laugh consistently. The later episodes where the Hillbillies flew to England, were less funny. But I still enjoy the major bulk of work.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Mark- In critical fairness, by the end of the series they had pretty well worn the premise out. Some of the last couple of seasons was less inspired. But heck, after seven or eight years, even All in the Family ran out of creative steam.