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Headscratchers / The Beverly Hillbillies

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  • Why, other than Rule of Funny, didn't the Clampetts ever get a new car? Logically, before moving to California- it was a small miracle that a 40-year-old vehicle in that condition made it that far to begin with, especially across the desert southwest!
    • Sentimental value. Plenty of people have attachments to the cars that they have owned for years and want to keep them for as long as possible. Sure, the Clampetts could have a fleet of Cadillacs and Mercedes, but Jed just loves his old jalopy. Same reason why Jed always wore his beat-up old hat and jacket.
    • It would have been Chrysler Imperials, but there's no reason they couldn't have done that and kept the old truck. They had the space to keep it and they were at least three drivers...
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    • A lot of the humor in the series came from Granny's inability to let go of decades-old habits of thrift. She still insisted on making her own soap, sewing patches onto torn clothing, and doing her all-fired best to continue to live exactly the way she had back in the Hills. And Granny was clearly the matriarch of the clan, with Jed deferring to her in most things.
    • Racist stereotyping. If the characters were a group of black-haired, brown-eyed dark skinned clones, then the P.C crowd would be calling for war.
      • What P.C. crowd? The show was made in the Sixties.
      • I grew up in the same general time and place from where the Clampets "were spawned", and to this day I find the show extremley offensive. Nobody that I know or related to was ever that ignorant. In spite of Hollywoods impression of Tennessee and Arkansas of the 1960s, the jet airliner was not an unfamiliar concept and when somebodu referred to an old car, it was a 1940s or 1950s model, NOT ANYTHING FROM THE 1920s. In fact, when I was growing up the only time I ever saw a 1920's or 1930's model car it was a renovation project or a "Hot Rod". The car I remember my parents owning was a 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air station wagon. As far as education, no we did not gave an "all grade" schoolhouse. We had Grade School, Junior High, and High Schools like everwhere else. As for higher education, Austin Peay State University has a history dating prior to the Civil War. And although televsion might have been science fiction to the Clampetts, yes we even had television, however that said the earliest TV I remember watching was black and white with only four stations.
      • Clarksville, Tennessee (home of Austin Peay), is quite civilized compared to some of the more backward areas portrayed in the Beverly Hillbillies. The show itself is a farce, and is not supposed to be believed to be an accurate representation of hillbilly life, although it does take full advantage of the backward nature of the midwest when compared to more "civilized" areas, like the cities of California. I don't think Clarksville is a good example. Being next door to Fort Campbell and only an hour away from Nashville, it's a fair-sized city.
      • Yes, Clarksville (my hometown) is very civilized. But immediatley next door is Stewart County (where most of my relatives live), a place where both the Clampetts and Jeff Foxworthy would feel at home. This description is especially apt back in the 60's. The only things Stewart County is known for is an Oshkosh overalls factory, Moonshine, Tobacca, and that other green leafy product.
      • And it's those places that are known for the moonshine and tobacco and overalls factories that the show is spoofing. I grew up in Southeast Missouri in the 1970s and I thought the show was a great spoof of the simple life of rural areas. I was stationed at Fort Campbell in the 1990s and lived in Hopkinsville, Kentucky during that time, so I know how much more modern those places are than what's portrayed in the show. In the 60s, when the show was made, I'm sure there were more examples to draw on than even a decade later, and it wasn't so long before that when, in WWII, a Kentucky woman (supposedly) shot some escaped German prisoners because she saw them trying to break into her shack, heard them speaking, and thought they were Yankees.
      • The level of underachieving in Hopkinsville still scares me. My sister was employed in the Hopkinsville School System (Note I did not say "little red shack") and she noted that a majority of the boys would rather drop out and become coal miners.
      • It's a cultural thing. People do what they're familiar with or what they get from their parents. In the Bootheel, when I graduated high-school, more graduates went into the military than those who went to college. Most, however, stayed at home and went to work in the same farms or factories as their parents. Now, more than 20 years later, they're still doing the same things. I would say there are more people I graduated who are cashiers at minimum wage than anything else.
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    • It's true to character that as long as the old car could be kept running, they wouldn't replace it. Aside from buying the big house, when did we ever really see them spend money? They may have money, but they don't spend it.
      • I agree. Buying fancy cars didn't appeal to anyone other than Jethro, who ended up driving the old clunker again most of the time anyway.
    • Jethro bought several cars over the course of the series, to implement his "playboy lifestyle". The family invariably considered them a waste.
    • It is a generational thing, even as late as the 1990s there were elderly folks who could have easily afforded a new car every couple of years but kept running an old clunker simply because it (mostly) did the job and replacing it before it totally fell apart was an alien concept to them. Same applied to fridges, TVs, microwave ovens, and many other types of consumer goods that were once status signifiers.
  • If Jethro is Jed's cousin's son (on his side of the family), and Granny is Jed's mother-in-law (i.e., on his wife's side of the family) why does Jethro call her "Granny"? For that matter, why do Mr. Drysdale and Miss Hathaway call her that?
    • At the risk of calling myself a hillbilly, when I was born, my mother took to calling my father's mother Granny as to distinguish her from her own mother. As I had 3 more siblings, soon my grandmother was called Granny by her sons, and then even some of her friends. It just became a nickname.
    • I had one of those grandmothers too. Not only her own grandchildren, but also their eventual spouses, and even some people she wasn't related to at all, called her Mammaw. It was her identity.
  • Why (other than the Rule of Funny) were all of the rural people presented as being so backwards? While some aspects of California culture might have been disconcerting to them and they are shown to have little formal education, they aren't shown as being illiterate. And if they aren't, wouldn't they have been able to read books and newspapers to make them just a little bit smarter?
    • Showing all the backward people made sense in the show's context. The Clampetts themselves could only be as backward as they were if they were surrounded by people who were equally backward.
    • They did have newspapers, but as some episodes showed, the information took a long time to get to them. They were surprised to see that movies had sound and that the actors they knew about were actually much older in person (because the movies were so old).
    • There's actually a subversion afoot here. Despite their extreme naivete, the Clampetts invariably are shown to be more savvy and kind-hearted than their city slicker counterparts. The various conmen who try to take advantage of them always fail, and their backwoods sensibility is often seen in retrospect by city folk in a positive light. And those who don't understand this, like Mrs. Drysdale, are portrayed as buffoons.
  • When has any man turned down a woman that is throwing herself at him, like Jethro did to Miss Jane? Granted, she was a VERY plain woman, but would it have killed the show for Jethro to have "hit that" at least once?
    • Maybe Jethro was a little more genre savvy than he let on? He was probably aware of the consequences. Like any other guy in this world, he didn't want to "hit that" and then have to deal with the consequences. This adds a seldom-seen realism to Jethro's character.
    • 1: Culture. Not every culture enables promiscuity, and while comical fictional hillbillies are sometimes shown as hilariously lustful, it is more in line with the characterization of being backwards and conservative that they should be less inclined to, as it is said, "hit that". Jethro doesn't want to marry Ms. Jane (except in that one episode), so to "hit that" would be out of the proper options, at least until Granny and probably Jed die or move away. 2: Jethro is (at least at first) infatuated with his idea of amazingly beautiful women as far as the eye can see in hollywood, and doesn't want to jeopardize that by hoking up with the first plaiyn thang that shows interest.
      Jethro: Hit girls? I don't want to hit 'em, I just wanna kiss 'em!
    • Also in regards to culture, Jethro probably thought of her as an old maid and not at all attractive. There were episodes that revolved around how Ellie May was turning into an old maid (the the standards of the hillbillies) and there was some mention of how a woman should be married by a certain age.
    • Jethro's simply not into Ms. Jane.


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