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All original content on copyright 2008 Albert Barger or the respective authors

September 26, 2002


40 years of heapin' helpings of their hospitality
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?

posted by Al at 9/26/2002 02:24:00 AM

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