The Beverly Hillbillies Ahead of Its Time

If you’ve never seen it, the Beverly Hillbillies is a sitcom that aired in the 1960s about a backwoods family that scores big after striking oil on their land and move to Beverly Hills, California. I had never watched this show but when my brother and I were younger, my dad taught us the theme song because it was so catchy.  It goes like this…

“This here’s a story about a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed, and then one day he was shootin’ at some food, and up through the ground come a bubblin’ crude. Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea. Well the first thing you know ol’ Jed’s a millionaire, the kinfolk said “Jed move away from there” said “Californy is the place you ought to be” so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly Hills, that is. Swimmin’ pools, movie stars.”

Image result for the beverly hillbillies 1960s episodes

At the time my brother and I learned it (5 years ago), we had no clue what the show was nor did we know where to watch it. So, as a kid who learns a catchy song, we continued to sing it when we’d be outside playing or just humming it. At a family party last year, my brother and I remembered the song and sang it jokingly. My aunt stopped us both as we were singing and said, “That show is horrible. It stereotypes people and makes fun of them. Where did you learn that song?” Naturally we replied that our father taught us. This was the moment where I finally figured I’d watch a few episodes. After watching it, I can see why people may be confused of little kids singing the theme song. The show prides itself on being the first of the “fish out of water” genre for a situation comedy on television. It basically details an unsophisticated, ill-mannered and uneducated family that tries to mix in with the superficial community of Beverly Hills. The show is way ahead of its time by addressing a myriad of controversial topics such as marijuana, racism, and women’s liberation. It touches across the broad spectrum of the issues that are still present today and draws on the stereotypes of people that come from the country all the way to the vain lifestyles of those caught up in the spotlight.

If you want a good laugh, especially from Granny, watch season 5 episode 27. Also, maybe you’ll realize how catchy the opening theme song is…

-Meghan Murphy (Blog Post #3)

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4 Responses to The Beverly Hillbillies Ahead of Its Time

  1. mediaphiles says:

    The theme song is really catchy! However, I have to agree with you that the show is highly stereotypical about class, but have we really gotten any better about this? There are all kinds of shows about the “white trash” stereotype, and viewers truly enjoy it! I think a huge part of why is that they are observing an absurd behavior that makes them feel better about themselves. (more classy) Just food for thought. -Katie N

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I love this! This is not a show you’d usually think about in terms of progressivism, but I agree with Katie in that we haven’t really gotten better (in many ways) about this. It’s often scary how relevant some of these old shows are to our current societal struggles. It’s sad, really. Viewers definitely do enjoy this type of humor, and it seems as if the shows almost have to be terrifyingly gory or juicy to be attractive, or racially slurred and otherwise condescending to be popular. Not all, of course, but across decades this is certainly true. Great post! – Corey

  3. mediaphiles says:

    This is a very interesting post because I had not taken the time to stop and consider the words in the theme song. But words like this are chosen very carefully for a theme song because it represents the show as an entity. I think it is important to think about why producers and writers at this time chose to include this specific theme song. I also agree that shows remain stereotypical of certain groups, so it is interesting to see how the Beverly Hillbillies relate to modern sitcoms today.
    -Lacey Worsham

  4. marymdalton says:

    The first edition of of The Sitcom Reader is available online through the library. One chapter in that edition that is not in the second edition is about the sitcom as a comedy of manners, and there is an interesting analysis of The Beverly Hillbillies. I agree about the stereotypes (which cut both ways, rural and urban), but it is worth noting that the savviest character of them all is the “truewit,” Jed Clampett.

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