MovieChat Forums > The Beverly Hillbillies Discussion > Anyone from Tenn. please answer.

Anyone from Tenn. please answer.


I enjoyed this show when it had first come on TV and I happen to see it on YouTube so enjoyed it again.

Here is my question: I wonder if the people who lived in Tenn. were offended by the way they showed them as hillbillies. (not everyone but still Tenn. is a very rural - still today) beautiful state.

Either now or when the show first aired.


I wear my net \O^O/ to make sure I am seeing what others see.

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I'm from TN and I dunno, I think most all of TV portrays Tennesseeians as being backwooded hicks. Like the cousin from I Love Lucy. They even portray ppl from Nashville as being backwooded.

Of course now you will have ppl arguing with you that the Clampettes were from Arkansas.

Create a society in which you would like to live, not knowing what you're going to come into it as.

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Well, first of all, despite what other sources have said, the Clampetts are from the Missouri Ozark Mountains, not the mountains of East Tennessee. Paul Henning, the creator and producer of "The Beverly Hillbillies" was from Missouri and when he created the show there were a lot of references to Missouri in it. (Bugtussle is a town in Missouri.) It wasn't until later that with the popularity of the show and of the Bluegrass Artists Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs (out of Nashville) started appearing on the show (and the producers using Flatt and Scruggs tunes as background music) that the writers started dropping references to Tennessee into the show. There also references to West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas and Texas in the show; so it became real confusing to the show's audience where exactly the "Hillbillies" where from. But Henning always, from the very beginning, always intended Jed and his family to be from Missouri.

I'm from Kingsport, in East Tennessee, and my wife is from Surgoinsville, also in East Tennessee. I remember seeing first run episodes of the show when I was a child in grade school and even then I didn't like it. My wife, from a town of 1,800 souls, totally hated the show. Kingsport is a factory town of 50,000 but Surgoinsville is still small and very rural. It sits in a wide river valley between the Bays Mountain and Clinch Mountain ranges and is fertile farm country.

I was offended. We knew what telephones, TVs and airplanes were. We wore shoes and brushed our teeth too. And the local movie theaters showed movies that were in color and had sound. I have the feeling that Henning wrote his show the way he did because that was the only way he could get the TV suits to let him get it on the air.

I can't speak for anybody in Ozarkian Missouri; but if a relative of mine stuck oil and got rich, there's no way in hell the family is going to tell him to "move away from there." We are not going that let our rich relative leave the state! I take it that Jed was a farmer. Most farmers, when they get suddenly rich are going to put their money back into their farm. Buy more land and get up to date farm equipment. AND BUY AN NEW PICKUP TRUCK. More livestock and plant more crops.

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When the show went to color, it seems the history was changed. In the B&W episodes I get the impression that the Clampettes lives out in the middle of nowhere like CAVE PPL almost, they had to grow their own food, HUNT their own food, make their own soup, no neighbors for MILES, no idea what a phone was etc...


BUT in the color episodes they talk about have general stores, neighbors, a TOWN SQUARE, a theater, and a party line telephone. In the later episodes it seems like they come from a pretty thriving community.


Create a society in which you would like to live, not knowing what you're going to come into it as.

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You're right - they couldn't be cardboard people forever, and as the series progressed; they had to have backgrounds for the four main characters. And with different writers, sometimes there were conflicting backgrounds. Now a days TV series have "Character bibles" and "plot bibles" to try to make sure there are no errors in characters or plotting.

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They had neighbors and a theattre in the black and white episodes during the very first season.

However, iirc, their nearest neighbor was miles away.

I forget how many miles away.

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I grew up in L.A. (Lynwood, just north of Compton and just east of Watts) and lived in the Ozarks in southwest Missouri for some time as an adult, so I'm just going to claim a bit of "been there" status in replying here.

I had cousins who knew people up in the area between Lebanon and Rolla, in some really backwoods places, who regularly hunted squirrel, shot dove and other fowl, and fished for dinner fairly often, but who also had regular jobs and could go into town to the grocery store anytime. It really wasn't a matter of being hick or rube or anything else. It was just a cultural thing, and they were proud of it. Cable TV, college football, and CNN -- and squirrel. Not even kidding.

I would imagine that may be less true since the advent of the internet and the tendency for regional cultures to get homogenized, although I haven't been up there much since that came about, so I definitely could be wrong.

I also lived in Springfield for about four years, a medium-sized city with a fairly large university and several small colleges, a thriving culture-and-arts center, and various other aspects of non-stereotypical-hillbilly life. And yet, you could drive 10 minutes away from town in pretty much any direction and you'd be in what felt like backwoods. You'd be around people who had small farms, or who even hunted and fished for at least some of their food, put up food for the winter, etc., and yet would go into town all the time to go to the mall, or for some big production at the university, or whatever the latest Tom Hanks movie was.

I guess what I'm saying is, there really isn't anything particularly odd about the Clampetts living near a town that had stores, a town square, a theater, etc., and still having a backwoods kind of existence. Obviously it's made cartoonish in the sitcom genre here, and maybe that's exactly the point. In reality, given the kind of people who would actually be more or less like them, there wouldn't be a conflict. But it's probably legit to say there was a conflict specifically because the "rube" side of their backstory was such an extreme caricature.

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What I find odd was Granny, in ALL of her years of living had never seen a helicopter or airplane fly over...in the pilot episode she thought the helicopter was a big bird.

Also It's hard to believe the Clampetts had never heard of Halloween.

What I thought odd though about the change is history was, in the color episodes the Clampetts talked about GOING to all these places back home, like to the town square, the theater, having a party line phone, etc... BUT when they first moved to Beverly Hills they acted like they had no clue what any of those things are.

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Yup, it's a good point.

Somebody should do a short book or a TV special about all the times sitcoms simply ignored their own established backstory and storylines. You have all kinds of instances where writers just acted like something never happened at all, characters (even family members) that disappeared entirely, etc.

In a broad-comedy show that plays on stereotypes like TBH, that kind of thing is bound to show in exactly the kinds of aspects you've outlined here.

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From a comedy stand-point, I guess in the early episodes they had to portray the Clampetts as being from a world totally different from Beverlly Hills.. BUT as the show went on, they felt they kinda had to change the Clampett's backstory to match the present day happenings a little bit.

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Interesting insights! I know exactly what you mean because when I moved to Nebraska from New York 20 years ago some friends seriously thought I would be moving onto the sets of Gunsmoke and Little House on the Prairie. The ignorance and/or snobbery of city folk was really surprising. One friend kept asking me if I was wearing bib overalls yet.

As for Beverly Hillbillies, I just watched "Elly Races Jethrine" (1.11). When Sonny says Elly can't dance Granny claims to be the "best dancer to come out of the Tennessee hills" and leads the whole group in a square dance. In an even earlier episode Granny jokes that her "courtin' and sparkin'" is why those hills back home are called the Smoky Mountains.

These Tennessee references come very early in the series, and in episodes written by Paul Henning himself, which makes me think Tennessee was intended from the start and not a later retcon. Of course these references may only apply to Granny, who could have relocated to the Missouri Ozarks.

More likely, I suspect, is that continuity was a low priority on this series. I haven't seen many of the color episodes yet, but if the Clampetts refer to having had party line telephones they counter a lot of the gags in the early shows where the characters stand befuddled before that mind-boggling device.

Gary

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Were city folks offended by the way they were portrayed? The show pokes fun at all kinds of people: bankers, doctor (Clyburn), secretary (Ms Jane), Hollywood bigwigs (various characters).

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I thought that the Beverly Hillbillies were from the Ozarks, not TN.

I think only East TN is Appalachian, and would fit the culture of mountain people. Most of TN is very different. For Example, Nashville/Memphis and Mid and West TN is very different, and hardly any "hillbillies" there. I am from Virginia but have been out to TN many times. Knoxville is in the heart of what would be called "the hills" but its a very nice city . You have to really drive back in the hollers to find any semblence of "hillbilly".

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I've heard people from the South say they were offended by the show but to me that's the epitome of silliness and insecurity. I'm from TN and it's one of my favorite shows of all time. There are too many references to TN for me to accept that the Clampetts were from anywhere else. Besides, for those who say they are offended by the Clampett's naivety, they are revealing their shallowness, by letting that overshadow what should be pride for Jed's integrity. No matter what happened, Jed was always like a rock, never giving in to temptation nor corruption by the money. Even when he could prove that his ancestors actually preceded Mrs. Drysdale's ancestors in settling in the country, which gave the Clampetts higher social standing than Mrs. Drysdale, Jed quietly denied that fact and let Mrs. Drysdale continue feeling superior to the Clampetts. What's to be ashamed of in being identified with TN there?? I love everything about the show. The entire cast was perfect for their roles. They never played it in a silly way but relied on personality traits for the comedy. If I have to chose a favorite though it would be Jethro. His enthusiasm for purty girls, food and exciting careers(which typically centered around getting purty girls!) made me look forward to every episode to see what he'd get into next!

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In the very first episode of the series, the oil men in the helicopter clearly state they are flying over the Ozark Mountains. The Ozarks are NOT in Tennessee.

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If I may recall it was Granny who was from Tennessee. In the black and white episodes there were numerous references from the Clampetts of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri. Eureka Springs and Oxford were among the cities mentioned. Both cities are in Arkansas. Later it was fictional places like Bugtussle and Hooterville crossovers...although Springfield and Joplin were mentioned in the New York episode.

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I'm not from Tennessee, but I've lived in the South all my life, both in cities and small towns. I was never offended. I always thought of the Clampetts more as a throwback to the 1800s than as real 20th century mountain folk.

Another poster was correct about the arrogance of some "city folk", though. I remember on a message board a few years ago a young idiot from Los Angeles was cracking stupid jokes about a story that had happened in Georgia, and making a lot of ignorant Dukes of Hazzard references. I reminded him that (a) Dukes of Hazzard was filmed in California, (b) all the writers were in California, (c) pretty much none of the actors were actually from the South, and (d) he was a miserable bigot. The jokes dried up pretty quickly after that.

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The way I always looked at it: Jed and his family were from the Missouri area. He talks about the Bald Knobbers, which were men in the Ozark Mountains.
But Granny was born and raised in Tennessee - she said she was the reason they were called the Smoky Mountains. I figure she was courted by an Ozark mountain man and he took her home- she gave birth to Jed's wife.

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I always figured the Ozarls too. But I just watched the pilot and I heard the "petroleum man" say "that's going to be the biggest pool of oil in east Texas".

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I am from Memphis and watched this show on reruns growing up. Not sure why, but I always assumed they were from Arkansas. I think enough has been said on why there was confusion on where they were from, but just letting people know I grew up think they were from Arkansas.
As to being offended, no I never was offended. But you have to remember that Southern white red neck culture is constantly being made fun of. We have thick skin. I would say now it's about the only culture you can still stereo type in a degrading way in Hollywood and no one claims racism against the writers. You can find a show or movie here or there that may do another culture, but you can't make fun of other religions or races or cultures like the South is made fun of on a consistent basis. The show and some others used old and not so flattering stereo types on a regular basis. It was clearly making fun of the South most of the time. But the show also made fun of city folk too to be fair. I liked the show. I think most people here liked it, and have a good enough sense of humor to enjoy it. The only thing I ever got offended over was if the same style of making fun of the South put into a show from a family from Compton, and made fun of them most of the time, it would be considered racist. But it was and still is ok to do it to the South. But as long as it's funny, I'll laugh along with it , no matter what culture or race a show is making fun of.

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