Cheering fan with a bullhornNEW FEATURE: VOTE & EARN NEATOPOINTS!
Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem for T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

vote up 11

The Weird History of Hillbilly TV

Trends in television were easier to define when there were only three networks. If a show became a hit, suddenly there were other shows just like it, and a simple formula could be run into the ground before the audience demanded something different. In comedy, the 1950s were the age of the suburban nuclear family sitcom. The '70s had more workplace comedies and families dealing with modern issues. In between, TV comedy in the 1960s was dominated by hillbillies, from The Andy Griffith Show to The Beverly Hillbillies to Hee Haw. Comedies that poked fun at a fictional rural South were a total escape from the real world.

When the newscasts were full of footage from My Lai and Saigon, from Selma and Birmingham, Americans looked for laughs in Hooterville. They sought them in Cornfield County, Pixley, and Mayberry. These were fictional rural places full of carefree, unencumbered country folks. There was no racial strife in these burgs because everyone was white. In these worlds, the sheriff didn’t carry a gun, a man could join the Marines and never talk about the war in Vietnam, and nobody even thought about the War on Poverty.

“Rural America was like true America: simpler, without all the problems of big city life, technology, the Russians, and that kind of stuff,” says TV historian and former executive Tim Brooks.

CBS did not invent the idea of using the South as a foil for modern life, but the shows it aired streamlined the concept for television. The combination of old stereotypes and mass media created an alternative "South" that combined all of rural America into a single land of silliness, simplicity, and safety. And it put an exaggerated idea of the white working class at the center of everything.

"Hillbilly TV" flourished until it was suddenly purged in 1971. But it never really went away completely. Read about the rise and fall of rural comedy from the perspective of its producers at The Bitter Southerner. -via Metafilter

Newest 1
Newest 1 Comment

Start New Comment Thread...

Commenting on Neatorama will earn you NeatoPoints!

Preview Comment
Start New Thread Post Your Reply

This reply comment will earn you 100 100 NeatoPoints !


Email This Post to a Friend
"The Weird History of Hillbilly TV"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More