The Tiffany Network went rural in the 1960s
In the decade immediately preceding “All in the Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or its more socially relevant fare of the 1970s, CBS had gained the nickname of the “Country Broadcasting System” for its proliferation of rural-oriented programming.
Perhaps the poster child for this was “The Beverly Hillbillies.” Airing from 1962 to 1971, this fish-out-of-water sitcom from Paul Henning featured an ensemble cast of Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas and Max Baer as the Clampetts, a poor backwoods family from the Ozarks who struck oil on their land and subsequently moved to the land of “swimming pools, movie stars.”
Much of the comedy derived from the clan’s lack of sophistication in its posh surroundings, as well as a host of double entendres and cultural misconceptions. Critics didn’t much care for the show but viewers did, vaulting it to the top of the ratings in its first two seasons. Its viewership was still respectable when the network canceled it after nine seasons and 274 episodes in 1971. By then, the “Rural Purge” was well underway and its fate was sealed.
Viewers can stream “The Beverly Hillbillies” on Amazon and Vudu.