The History & Analysis of the Cbs Sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies"

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The History & Analysis Of The Cbs Sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies”

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“Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed…” Set in the 1960s, Jed Clampett and his family of mountain folk, move from Ozark to Beverly Hills, California. He becomes very rich after oil prospectors discover oil in their swamp, giving them the chance to move from a worn out shack to a beautiful mansion. This CBS sitcom is known as none other than The Beverly Hillbillies. The basic premise of the show was to watch this family, struggle to fit into societal norms and failing to use everyday modern appliances.

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Paul Henning created this sitcom based on the love he had for Hillbillies. His love for them started when he was a boy scout and would go camping in the Ozarks. Al Simon, a producer at Filmways at the time, called Paul and asked him to write a sitcom program for television. In that moment, Paul knew exactly what to write about. This show ran for nine seasons and went from black and white to colored just after its third. The popularity of this show was ongoing, ranking it one of the top 20 most-watched programs on television for eight of its seasons and it remains in syndicated reruns.

The most important element of any show is the core. A core of a show is surrounded by everything else. It is the reason people go back to watch a show every week. Without one, there would be no show. For The Beverly Hillbillies, the core is this concept of rags-to-riches. Why tune into shows like this? Rags-to-riches is known as one of the most popular storylines. Audiences are wired to love any success story because it gives hope that anything is possible. As people, it is natural for us to root for the underdog because we have all been there at some point in our lives. We know what it feels like. When viewing shows like this, we want to see the characters beat the odds and have their hard work pay off. It is this reflection that we all deserve to be rich in someway.

With this show in particular, we do see a poor uneducated family move to a posh community in Beverly Hills but there’s a twist. With this new lifestyle come new challenges for the family. It is evident that they do have trouble so instead they decide to implement their past into their present. They resent the Beverly Hills lifestyle and stick with what they know. Usually the rags-to-riches stories, intend for the character to finally get what they’ve dreamt about the entire time. For this family, they’d rather go back to the way things were. This makes the viewers intrigued as to why anyone would pass up the opportunity to live in that luxurious lifestyle. It is so unusual to see this type of outcome in a story like this. We desire to have a ‘riches’ type lifestyle so bad, that it shocks us to see them pass it up. With this core, it allows for the show to have more of a depth because of all the elements that surround it.

Two characters that are introduced in Beverly Hills are Milburn Drysdale, the Clampett’s banker and his secretary, Jane Hathway. These characters are responsible to fulfill any of the Clampett’s wishes and have trouble understanding the craziness of the family. Conflicts may develop because both parties are from different worlds and do not know how to react in this situation. This is why the tone and genre is a comedy sitcom. With all the crazy demands that the Clampett’s have, it is found to be humorous due to how ridiculous they are to the Drysdale clan. A pitch is a verbal presentation of an idea for a film or television series. It is a way to attract a development company so it can be written for the screen.

Depending on the person you are pitching to and the amount of time you have, it can be short or long. If I were to pitch Beverly Hillbillies, I would do it in two different ways. My first pitch would be, from ‘rags to rags in riches’. It is a quick ‘elevator pitch’ that can be understood as poor people moving into a rich area but continue to act as they normally would. It is a short way for the lead buyer to understand what the main concept is, with giving some detail in a short sentence. The second way I would pitch it, is slightly longer. I would pitch it as; a poor family of crazy interesting people become rich and move to an elite neighbourhood but do not leave their old ways behind.

This pitch gives more context. It allows for the lead buyer to get a more in depth version rather than my first pitch. It also adds that there will be the element of humour and potential conflicts. For this show, I feel like you would need to be able to feel what that environment is like. To make that happen with both of these pitches, I would bring a look book with pictures of hillbilly’s wardrobe contrasted with elegant clothing accompanied with a mix tape, consisting of old country music to give the company a feel for the look I am aiming for. With these in mind, it can generate ideas for the other elements that surround the concept. It will illustrate the two types of characters, the Clampetts, a family of hillbillies and the Drysdales, a family about business. It will prompt the clash of two different worlds trying to live in one.

This will create conflicts; how will the elite react to this hillbilly behaviour? How will the hillbillies react to the elite? Will there come a time where the elite become annoyed with the hillbilly’s? These types of questions can produce a strong plot for the series. All of this allows for a successful story for the audience to enjoy. The Beverly Hillbillies is a classic comedy sitcom that did amazing since the premiere of its very first episode. Despite the good rating, the show had to be cancelled because CBS wanted to implement new “hip” shows. Although being cancelled, this show has exceeded my expectations. It took the elements I talked about plus more and turned it into an amazing hit series. I did watch a couple episodes and from the wardrobe to the actors to the jokes, it was phenomenal. Buddy Ebsen walked with such grace as he played Jed Clampett, fitting the character perfectly.

As well as Irene Ryan who plays Daisy “Granny”, portrayed her so strong and aggressive, which made her so amusing to watch. Not to mention how interesting it was to see the two worlds collide. It is enjoyable to see these hillbillies boss around a typical rich businessman and see his reaction to the questionable things they’d do. This show did allow for the audience to question what will happen next. Ten years after the show was cancelled, CBS decided to make a movie sequel to the series called Return of the Beverly Hillbillies. Not only a sequel, but in 1993 a special of the show came out called The Legend of the Beverly Hillbillies. On top of that, the show is still televised around the world in syndication. For a show to get two reboots and syndication, it is a hit show that does exceed all expectations.

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