I am the first generation 'off the farm' in my family and we lived in a little Texas cotton town till I was almost 5, then we moved to the 'big' town (pop. 15,000) a few miles away. Many people around here had similar stories. And GA was certainly a show most of these watched, but for some reason it wasn't talked about much-- not like Beverly Hillbillies. In BH, for instance, in the second ep, Granny is shown the stove and she tries to build a wood fire in it. My mom's grandmother, who had never cooked on anything but a wood stove, actually did that when somebody gave her a gas stove. It wasn't funny, because the house almost burned. But to see this on television show for laughs led people to talk about these things they really related to in some way. Similar ideas flowed from the meaning of "stock"-- livestock or corporate stock; and, of course, only 2-3 decades before, many former country people did actually put benches on old cars and head out from the Dust Bowl to California-- just not with mllion$ already in the bank there.
But GA-- while it was funny, nobody really related to it personally. Who actually had to climb a poll to use their telephone, lived near a peddler so exuberantly crooked, had a county agent as ridiculously wacky, or had a tractor with wheels that would fall off if you point at them....? But the very premise of the show-- a rich New York lawyer wanting to be a farmer so badly he would buy that ramshackle place and extol the virtues of the American farmer, finding all the insanity but never giving up-- how do we relate to him? And yes, I'm sure many people who watched the show despised its portrayal of a farm community-- because people have been known to really believe stereotypes as shown.
So, to sum up, certainly many country and small town people watched the show, and a lot liked it-- but liked it more as something like a comic strip than as an exaggeration of people or events they really knew.
I was a country boy in my teens then. My parents didn't watch it but I loved it. I like how it shows poverty in such a way that it never gets too realistic to what poor viewers were experiencing. Nobody had the kind of hardships the Douglases had! So you could be poor and feel comfortable with the show. And the rich folks were so nice (and willing to respect and associate with the poor locals) that the poor viewers could like them.
"All necessary truth is its own evidence." - Ralph Waldo Emerson