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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Darksasami: Is there a separate place in the Television Land collective unconscious for Mayberry USA, or is it a singularity? It doesn't feel like it fits in the Deep South as we know it, but I don't know if any other shows ever tried to capture the same feeling, if you know what I mean.

Gus: Quirky Town

Darksasami: Right, right. I always forget because the name Quirky Town does not in any way reflect what it purports to be. It evokes Eerie, Indiana if I don't look up what it is.

On an unrelated note, isn't Hootersville supposed to be in Illinois? Hardly Deep South...

Silent Hunter: As a Brit, can someone please explain to me why people run bootleg liquor to this place and nowhere else in the USA on TV?

Gus: Production of untaxed liquor is something of a tradition in the Deep South, due in large part to resentment of Federal (Northern, that is, or "Yankee") incursion into what was considered to be private business. These "incursions" by agents of the government called "Revenuers" started up in force after the close of the Civil War.

Bootlegging is not unknown in the other regions of the country, but doesn't have the cultural antecedents that it does in the South. Another region, the Pacifc Northwest (Northern California, Oregon, Washington State), has a similar rep/notoriety for pot plantations. However, it is too cold to wear the silly shorts in that region and nobody is really stoned enough to try to jump any bridges in their VW van.

There is one other significant cultural reason for this. In most of the Deep South, liquor laws are set county by county. Many counties, slightly more under the political sway of local churches, are "dry," meaning that, at least in theory, possession and consumption of alcohol in any form are banned. Needless to say, no sooner is the law passed than a thriving black market appears, complete with smugglers (the "bootleggers"), producers ("moonshiners"), corrupt officials demanding bribes, etc.

Licky Lindsay: this also explains, at least according to legend, the popularity of stock car racing in the Deep South.

Phartman: So why am I living in Connecticut and every third car I see has a #24 sticker?

Fast Eddie: Sorry, Phartman, there is no explanation for living in Connecticut. ;P

Phartman: Part of the reason I'm moving next January; I'm tired of everyone asking me why I'm here. But why is NASCAR such a big deal here?

Moon Sword: There's some truth to a lot of this, once you move past the exaggeration. And those rural towns aren't that hard to find in Georgia, where I live, even within an hour or two of Atlanta, which is one of the more stereotypical examples of American urban development you'll find. The firebrand preachers have deep roots here and I'll remind you that Cobb County (which, for those not familiar with the area, is a core part of the Atlanta metro area) was one of those that insisted on those evolution stickers a while back. The racism is mostly gone now, but go back fifty years and it's a very different case. (Atlanta's "City Too Busy To Hate" slogan was the result of a compromise between black and white elites, who respectively kept a lid on things to avoid the city becoming another "Bombingham" (Birmingham, Alabama for those not familiar with the name); this was a deliberate bit of social engineering.)

Those corrupt hick sheriffs? While they didn't disappear northerners, generally (there are a few special cases during the civil rights era), there's a lot of truth to it. One county in Georgia was so bad about milking out-of-state tourists for speeding fines that the AAA listed it as the worst speed trap in America, and the state government had to put up a sign warning motorists about it and post state troopers to guard it because the locals kept destroying it! There's several very, very small counties with corrupt sheriffs and judges that exploited the state constitution to jerk the legislature around. The more clannish/weird locals stuff comes from the hill folk, which is more in Tennessee, Virginia (and West Virginia), and North Carolina, although I don't doubt there's a few cases here in Georgia. The moonshiners were all over this state during Prohibition, and dry counties are a fact of life. (Jim Beam whiskey is made in a dry county in Tennessee, actually.)

The stereotypes of the Deep South are there for a reason people, for all that they're exaggerated.

pawsplay: I've yanked this line about Faulkner. Faulkner was not lampooing the South from Hollywood, he was a Southern novelist.

  • Pretty much the entire premise behind William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. Neither education nor economy can save the South.

Shrikesnest: My favorite part of this trope is that if it were about a race instead of a region it would be horrifyingly racist. But it's okay; it's about people grouped by where they were born and not an obvious physical difference like skin color, so it's okay! That means that they can help where they were born and it's okay to make fun of them for their silly accent! "The stereotypes... are there for a reason people, for all they're exaggerated." is no less true of racist or sexist stereotypes (well, some stereotypes anyway; obviously some are unfounded nonsense). I dunno... it bothers me. People from the deep south can be uneducated and "provincial" from the point-of-view of say, cosmopolitan New Yorkers, but they're often polite, loyal people who, even if they hate you, will show you hospitality you'd be lucky to get from your best friend in the north.

(Note: I was born and raised in Minnesota, but my fiancee is from North Carolina and some of my best friends are from Kentucky)

Apathy Gifted: Would anyone mind if I edited in that Firefly is based more on the Old West instead of the Deep South? It seems it's mostly being confused for that by the accents, which is a case of sounding similar to outsiders, but very different to those who live there. I mean, it's even called a Space Western.

Goat Boy: I've always kind of figured growing up in the south is a lot like growing up Catholic...

boldingd: @Shrikesnest Thanks! I'm from Georgia myself, and I get pretty sick of seeing people assume the entire South-East is Hazard County.