Fans Still Love Classic TV
In television’s heyday, critics often panned the silly sitcoms of the 1960s but every decade new fans are still tuning in…especially to the shows created and produced by Paul Henning, the Missouri native who perfected the art of the rural comedy.
Why do viewers, generation-after-generation, still watch these iconic television shows?
Ernestine Sclafani Bayless, who is married to sports commentator Skip Bayless, may be classic TV’s biggest fan. She says, “I work for the largest PR agency in the world, I am a vice president in consumer media, and I know every episode of Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies…and I wanted to be Linda Henning in Petticoat Junction. Why do we still watch? Folks still want to escape into another place when watching TV. Just for a half hour, not everything needs to be true stories, crime, or those awful reality TV shows. Classic sitcoms have lasted 50-something years, viewers still watch them on Me TV and TV Land, and generation after generation will continue to tune in. These shows have passed the test of time because they have good solid writing, simple story lines, and superb acting–all to make people laugh.”
Fans across the country share their love for the shows and reveal five reasons folks still love classic TV.
#1 The funny characters are so quotable.
“I grew up watching Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies–love all three. Whenever I do a bonehead move, I refer to it as a Jethro Bodine. Any distrustful banker I refer to as being a Mr. Drysdsale. My favorite quotes? Jed: Weee Doggie. Ellly May: Look, paw, a double barrel slingshot (when Miss Jane tried to get her to wear a bra). Granny: Jed, It’s for my rheumatism; and: by the cement pond. Then there’s this moment: When I’m moving really slow, I definitely feel like and refer to myself as Uncle Joe as in “Hey Uncle Joe, he’s a movin’ kinda slow at the Junction.”
—Gregory Wright, MBA, Senior Partner, Innovative Resource Group, LLC
“I watched reruns as a child, and I still find myself quoting these characters often. The Beverly Hillbillies was my favorite of the rural comedies of the 1960’s. It’s a story about culture shock—throwing these unpretentious yokels into the image-obsessed culture of Beverly Hills—and that’s what makes it memorable. The title’s clever pun became a theme carried over into episodes. That’s what I loved about the writing: dialogue built from a play on words; the characters are having a conversation about two completely different things. Jed Clampett may have been uneducated and unsophisticated, but he was nobody’s fool. He had wisdom. Not only was the creator, Paul Henning, quick-witted, but his knowledge of the Ozarks gave the show authenticity.”
–James Pylant, editor at www.GenealogyMagazine.com, is the author of In Morticia’s Shadow: The Life & Career of Carolyn Jones.
#2 The theme songs are catchy, fun, and totally singable.
“I can still sing all three theme songs! The Beverly Hillbillies was my favorite. I wanted to be Elly May, with a mess of critters and Dash Riprock to boot! These days I find myself quoting Jed, especially when one of my sons does something not too bright: “One of these days, I’m gonna have me a long talk with that boy.” The show was just plain funny. Diggin’ taters, smokin’ crawdads, showing up the snobby Mrs. Milburn Drysdale, using the pot passers (pool cues) in the fancy eatin’ room, swimming in the cement pond. The Clampetts didn’t care that they didn’t fit in. They stayed true to themselves, loved their family, and were loyal friends. I didn’t need them to tell me about country people: I was country. I lived in Mississippi, the state everyone loves to dump on. The Beverly Hillbillies didn’t dump on us; it saw us as people worth celebrating.”
––Janet Farrar Worthington is the author of Where’s the Wine? And Other Questions and Bumble Creek Farm. When she’s not watching old TV shows, she’s writing her blog at www.janetfarrarworthington.com.
“I loved Green Acres and became a fan at the age of 3 or 4 years. I was probably lured by the theme song, which I still remember verbatim and can still sing with all inflections. The show did shape my views about country folk and city. My takeaway was believing city folk were more sophisticated (and stuffy); While country folk were comfortable in their own skin, harder working, but backward and lacking in manners and proper grooming. I remember Eva Gabor seemed like the most glamorous woman in the world, and I remember thinking, New York is so much better. And wondering, why did she ever leave?”
—Eartha Watts Hicks, author of Love Changes and Graffiti Mural.
#3 The quirky people are a real hoot.
“I caught The Beverly Hillbillies on their popular syndicated run and am still amazed at how clever the writing was in the early seasons. Sure, on the surface, it seemed like country comes to town, but the show (as well as Green Acres) had a real subversive element to the humor. The rural hillbillies’ take on Beverly Hills, the 1 percent, movies stars, and all the trappings that come from being wealthy were absolutely skewered, and the so-called sophisticated denizens of the upper crust were made to look like the real fools at the end of most every early episode. Green Acres, of course, was a much more surreal show, but the insanity that Oliver Douglas met when he moved to the country always positioned the “hicks” as the ones in control. Using the fish out of water story in both shows, the writers actually made southern people—or hillbillies, rednecks, etc.—as the wise overseers of a world consumed with material and superficial matters. The acting on The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres was sublime, with one of the most amazing collection of character actors and famous faces. One did not watch this show and feel that an actor was in costume. Rather, these characters felt like flesh and blood people who, if you met at a personal appearance, might surprise you when they signed an autograph with their real name.”
—Robbie Robertson, a published and produced playwright who recently did a staged adaptation of a 1960s cult film called SATAN IN HIGH HEELS in NYC.
“I remember it like it was yesterday and I’m 64. The Beverly Hillbillies was unlike anything else I had ever seen on TV. First, the vividness of the color….it just looked like a million bucks. And the cast was brilliant…Buddy Epson never got flustered…always in that amazing character…..Irene Ryan was always spot-on…just so funny…the idea of these folks in Beverly Hills was a concept that comes around once in a lifetime and they translated it so beautifully. The fact that they never self-reflected in thinking that there was anything wrong with them was a fabulous idea. It really just hit all the right notes!”
—Craig Wolfe, President, CelebriDucks and Cocoa Canard
“I loved The Beverly Hillbillies. I loved the contrast in lifestyles, whereas you had unsophisticated hillbillies from the Ozarks who had more money than most of the pretentious socialites residing in Beverly Hills. In addition, the Clampetts always seemed so grounded in their beliefs and were unchanged by their new-found wealth. I grew up in the suburbs of a major metropolitan urban area so the show represented a far departure from my realm of experiences. While I don’t refer to any of the characters in my present life, my favorite characters were Granny, temperamental and defiant in contrast to Mrs. Drysdale, who was an unrelenting snob; Jethro who was an inspiration in fitness and Miss Hathaway for her amazing command of the English language and overall degree of integrity. My most fondest memory about the show is definitely the writing and characters. The ‘cement pond’ is a term I tease friends about today when I go to a swimming pool — even at the finest resorts.”
—Greg Jenkins, Partner, Bravo Productions.
“Green Acres had more absurdist humor than other situation comedies at the time. The characters were quirky, with some stereotypical rural attributes, but also some unique attributes. I have found, in marrying into my wife’s rural family, that some of the characters’ endearing willingness to trust too easily and jump in too quickly to help others is based in reality. Who can forget that brilliant theme song, forever in my brain like the lyrics to what goes in a Big Mac?!? We sing it in the car when we drive westbound out of Chicago. Green Acres had a wonderful mid-century rural America feel to it. My favorite character, which I still reference today, was Arnold the Pig. The shyster salesman, Mr. Haney, comes in as a close second favorite. We referenced Mr. Haney often when we watched Ted Cruz debating in the last presidential election.”
—Eisner & Inkpot Award-Winning Comic Book Artist, Dave Dorman is a world-renowned comic book illustrator and frequent media guest on topics of comics and pop culture. His website is https://davedorman.com.
#4 The plot lines spark the imagination and make you wonder what you’d do.
“As a child, Green Acres was one of my favorite shows. I loved the pig Arnold. I could never understand why Mrs. Douglas would want to leave Park Avenue and move to a farm. I grew up in Boston, and the country and farm life seemed so far away, such a different world to see farmers, a pig walking around, and this glamorous woman living in this area and loving it. Now I married a man from New York I live right outside of New York City and when we travel upstate New York I always think of Green Acres and now I get why people want to leave the city and have the peace and quiet and work the land.”
—Cherie Corso, world-class media influencer, www.cheriecorso.com
“Petticoat Junction was a favorite at my house. I laughed often and certainly had my favorite episodes that I can watch over and over again. The girls were often portrayed as more sexy than smart… but at least they were not portrayed as totally dumb. We thoroughly enjoyed the show. My favorite was The Beverly Hillibillies! From Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas to Max Baer who were all perfect for their roles. I did often hope that Jethro would get at least a little bit hip and get a girlfriend! We certainly laughed at things like the “cement pond” and their “truck” with granny in her rocking chair on top of it. Whoever stopped to think or realize that she could not possibly have been in that chair from the backwoods hills to Beverly Hills! Living in an area with lots of woods (Baltimore County, MD), we had a few animals so, of course, we loved that Elly May had lots of critters. No one ever stopped to think that a chimpanzee was not a normal critter even from the Ozark Mountains! However, everyone did realize the kangaroo was a zoo escapee! Ms. Jane was a favorite of ours whenever she put the boss in his place and, of course, we always wondered if she would ever marry Jethro, her heartthrob! The dream of striking oil (or winning the lottery) was something we often discussed… what would we do if? Would we want to move to Hollywood? Or would we want to move to a remote mountaintop away from the craziness of the 1960s… the drugs, the race riots, and all that sort of thing?? Would we want to buy an island somewhere and be isolated in a tropical paradise? My sister and I often had to vacuum and dust our house… so we often agreed that we would NOT want a huge mansion unless we had a maid or two! However, we did think we’d like a huge mansion that had a ballroom for large dance parties!”
—Anna Renault, www.annarenault.com
#5 Sometimes real life plays out like a scene from a sitcom.
“I am a 54-year-old TV fan and Executive Coach in private practice. I just love The Beverly Hillbillies. This show had such an appeal to me because I grew up as a city kid with limited means. Being a city kid from Houston (oil boom), we had a special interested in the bubbling crude in Texas. Interestingly, in real life, I married a North Carolina country girl (Elly May). There are so many great characters to get to know and identify with on the show. There is never ever a dull moment in any episode. The story lines were active and the laughs are always perfectly timed. I also like the rag- to-riches theme. Character development was flawless. The writing and timing are / were on point. Casting seems so perfect as well. The theme song resonates through my head present day…Texas tea, baby.”
—Bruce W. Cameron M.S., LPC-S, LSOTP, PA , Federal Bureau of Prisons Retired Clinical and Forensic Counseling / Coaching www.cameronlpc.com www.conciergecoach.net
“Growing up, I loved watching reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies. The notion of backwoods hillbillies striking rich and living amongst the elite just blew my mind. The biggest lesson I learned from the show is to be proud of your roots. No matter where we go or what we become, we all start out in very different circumstances. It’s worth considering when dealing with others. I still joke when my teenage daughter eats salad out of a giant bowl that it reminds me of Jethro’s cereal bowl!”
—Chris Brantner is the founder of www.CutCableToday.com, the largest cord cutting resource on the web.
“I particularly loved The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres as they highlighted the silliness in classicism. Growing up poor, I enjoyed having characters I could relate to. I would say the extremes in the differences (ignorance and snobbery) were so outlandish that I never really took them at face value. I still sing the Green Acres song randomly! I loved Eva Gabor. Sharon Tate was on The Beverly Hillbillies and I am a huge fan of hers.”
—Brenda Della Casa, Owner of BDC Digital Media, LLC, Founder and Editor-In-Chief at Badass Living, Social Media and Digital Content Speaker and Strategist
Columns: Inc. Magazine, The Huffington Post, YourTango
Books: Author of Cinderella Was a Liar Co-Author of Look At My Striped Shirt: Confessions of People You Love to Hat
“In addition to the Paul Henning shows, I am also a HUGE Hazel, That Girl, and Bewitched fan. That Girl was the reason why I moved to NYC and Hazel is the name of my 7- month old Maltese, named after Shirley Booth. The Henning shows do hold a special place in my heart. I love Green Acres because Eva Gabor was absolutely gorgeous and so glamorous and what woman couldn’t relate to her dilemma—especially if you grew up in a city area? Eddie Albert was perfectly cast as her city husband who longed for living the simple country life. I spent summers in Vermont growing up and could totally identify with some of the characters, as well as the rural life. The post office was in the general store, the antique junk dealer/salesman. it was priceless. There were cows outside my parents farmhouse and my mom was similar to Lisa Douglas…she was from NYC’s lower east side and was the ultimate city gal. My dad, from Little Italy, was a city guy but longed to live on a farm! In my daily life. I always refer to either Mr. Kimball, who would start a sentence telling someone something, and constantly change the sentence and correct himself every two seconds and restart the story, always losing his train of thought. I also refer to Mr Haney, the slick salesman who was always peddling something and upping the cost and finally Mr. Drucker, the nice general store owner, always trying to do the right thing. BUT who could resist ARNOLD THE PIG??? My little dog Hazel reminds me of Arnold at times and I call her that. She will sit watching the TV with me and at times she looks at me wanting to change the channels. Also, she is very glam and wants to be a star. My husband is on a Fox Sports show and on his weekly Facebook Live videos, he always starts off with a Hazel cameo. Reminds me of when Arnold goes to Hollywood to be a star. The Beverly Hillbillies was totally a hoot. With Jane the secretary and Mr. Drysdale the bank president, they were the perfect foils for the Clampetts. Jethro was adorable and every girl wanted Elly May’s figure…she was the original Daisy Duke! Granny was the spitfire who spoke the truth and kept everyone in line. Looking back, the writing was so genius, spot-on, and the jokes flowed. The actors were cast so well, you really believed they lived in Hooterville and Beverly Hills.”
—Ernestine Sclafani Bayless