The Beverly Hillbillies

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search
"Y'all come back now, y'hear?"

A 1960s Sitcom about a family of Ozark-mountain folks who, when oil prospectors discover oil in their swamp, become fantastically rich and move to a mansion in Beverly Hills, where a greedy banker tries desperately to keep their money in his bank, which means keeping them happy in the foreign environment of Beverly Hills, while simultaneously keeping the city's residents from driving the Clampetts away. A great cast is aided by deceptively smart writing from creator Paul Henning, in a show which, contrary to popular perception, actually had great respect for the mountain people whom it portrayed (Paul Henning was from Missouri and knew such simple yet honorable and proud people in his youth). Incredibly successful, the show was eventually a victim of the so-called "Rural Purge" that eliminated shows from CBS' schedule that had a "country" or southern flavor. The series was canceled despite high ratings because they were the wrong ratings. It lasted from September, 1962 to March, 1971. A total of 274 episodes in 9 seasons.

The earlier seasons, in black and white, subvert the dumb hick stereotype to good comic effect by portraying the patriarch, Jed Clampett[1] (played in a typically low-key performance by Buddy Ebsen) as being obviously a lot smarter than city-dwellers assumed, always getting the better of conmen. Milburn Drysdale (Raymond Bailey chews the scenery gleefully in most of his scenes) was actually a friend of the Clampetts, whom he genuinely liked, and did not attempt to swindle them besides his greedy persona. With the exception of Jethro, the Clampetts were never portrayed as stupid, only unfamiliar with their Beverly Hills environment.

The Film of the Series was made in 1993 to mixed reviews. It focuses on the attempt of new characters Woodrow Tyler (Rob Schneider) and Laura Jackson (Lea Thompson) to con the Clampetts out of their money. The film was directed by Penelope Spheeris, previously known for such films as Hollywood Vice Squad (1986) and Waynes World (1992). It performed decently at the box office, earning a little less than $58 million in the worldwide market. 44 of these million came from the United States market, where it was the 32nd most successful film of its year.

The cast consisted of:

  • Jedediah D. "Jed" Clampett - The apparent head of the family. A good-natured man with some common sense. But also an expert marksman. Played in the series by Buddy Ebsen and in the film by Jim Varney.
  • Daisy Mae "Granny" Moses - The mother-in-law of Jed. A shotgun-wielding old woman with a nostalgia for the Confederate States of America. Played in the series by Irene Ryan and in the film by Cloris Leachman.
  • Elly May Clampett - The only daughter of Jed. A beautiful tomboy with Lethal Chef skills. Played in the series by Donna Douglas and in the film by Erika Eleniak.
  • Jethro Bodine - A nephew/young cousin of Jed. Described as naive, ignorant, and pompous. Stays in the city to seek better education and job offers. Can't seem to settle down in any job. Played by Max Baer, Jr. in the series, by Ray Young in the 1981 Return of the Beverly Hillbillies Made for TV Movie, and by Diedrich Bader in the film.
  • Milburn Drysdale - The next-door-neighbor, confidant and banker of the Clampetts. He is greedy little man, willing to put a lot of effort to keep the Clampett account for his bank. Played in the series by Raymond Bailey and in the film by Dabney Coleman.
  • Margaret Drysdale - Milburn's wife. A haughty member of one of Boston's oldest families, she frequently acts like a blue-blood, forgetting her father had lost his fortune. Often at odds with Granny. Written out during the last two seasons. Played in the series by Harriet Mac Gibbon and in the film by Penny Fuller.
  • Sonny Drysdale - Son of Margaret and stepson of Milburn. A thirty-something college student, infatuated with Elly. A minor but memorable character, he appeared in less than ten episodes between 1962 and 1966 but reportedly received more than his share of the fan mail. Played by Louis Nye.
    • Morgan Drysdale - The son of Milburn and Margaret as seen in the 1993 movie. Drysdale Jr. is now seen as an average high school student/Butt Monkey with slackerish tendencies, also infatuated with Elly. Played by Kevin Connolly.
  • Jane Hathaway . The ever-efficient, ever-uptight secretary of Drysdale and closest friend to the Clampetts. Treated as a member of the family, infatuated with Jethro. Played in the series by Nancy Kulp and in the film by Lily Tomlin.
  • Pearl Bodine. Cousin to Jed, mother to Jethro. A relatively late addition of the first season, subject to her own Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs song, "Pearl, Pearl, Pearl". The character was popular with audiences but had to be dropped when the actress was cast as the lead in another Henning series, Petticoat Junction. Played in the series by Bea Benaderet and in the film by Linda Carlson.
  • Jethrine Bodine. Jethro's twin sister. Moved in with the Clampetts in the first season, but soon left to return to her sweetheart Jazzbo Depew. The character was portrayed by Max Baer, Jr. dressed in drag in the series, with the voice provided by Linda Kaye, and in the film by Diedrich Bader in drag.

Tropes used in The Beverly Hillbillies include:
  • Alternate Continuity: The 1993 movie.
  • Brats with Slingshots
  • Catch Phrase: "Wellllll Doggies!", "JED! JED! JED!", "Y'all come back now, y'hear?"
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Inverted; the pilot and first few episodes were much more serious in nature and focused on Jed finding a "Maw" for a Elly.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Whatever happened to Cousin Pearl, Jehtro's mother?
  • Crossover: A 1968 Thanksgiving episode sent the Clampetts to Hooterville, where they mingled with the characters from Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. All three rural-themed sitcoms were developed by Paul Henning.
  • Cute Bruiser: Elly May - and Granny.
  • Deep South
  • Dreadful Musician: Cousin Pearl considers herself a talented piano player and opera star, in reality her singing is bad enough for the neighbors to summon the police to make it stop.
  • Dumb Is Good: The Clampett family may not be the smartest, but they are one of the sweetest. Meanwhile, the Drysdales are smarter, and are possibly the greediest couple you will ever see.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Farmer's Daughter: Elly May.
  • Feuding Families: The Season 1 episode "The Great Feud" has the Clampetts and Drysdales getting into this.
  • The Film of the Series: Released in 1993, it takes place in a different continuity than the original series.
  • Fish Out of Water: The basic premise of the show.
  • Flanderization: Jethro becomes more obsessed with pop culture and becoming a big star, and Mr. Drysdale becomes more of a greedy banker stereotype.
  • Gargle Blaster: Granny's "rheumatizz medicine".
  • Gender Equal Ensemble: The titular family has two males (Jed and Jethro) and two females (Granny and Elly). Additional regular characters include two males (Milburn and Sonny Drysdale) and two females (Margaret Drysdale and Jane Hathaway).
  • Gilligan Cut
  • Hollywood Dateless and Hollywood Homely: Poor Jane Hathaway.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: After Mr. Drysdale gets a hole blown through his hat by Granny, Jed makes it clear that if Granny had actually tried to shoot him, she wouldn't have missed.
  • It Came From Beverly Hills
  • Ivy League for Everyone
  • Jeopardy Thinking Music: Used in the 1993 film.
  • Jerkass: Jethro. Also Mr. and Mrs. Drysdale.
  • Landmark Sale: The final season featured a storyline where the Clampetts go to Washington and Jed is conned into buying the White House, the Capitol Building and other landmarks.
    • That same conman (played by Sgt. Bilko, no less) tricked them into buying The Statue of Liberty and Central Park in an earlier episode.
  • Mistaken for Servant: The Clampetts.
  • Morally-Bankrupt Banker
  • Ms. Fanservice: Elly Mae.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: One episode revolved around Granny trying to catch a "giant jackrabbit", which is actually a kangaroo that has escaped from the neighbors' place.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Played straight with Jed Clampett in that he isn't as simple as his speech and general appearance implies. Also subverted in one episode where officials believe that Jethro must be Obfuscating Stupidity in an attempt to get out of been conscripted as they cannot believe that anyone could be as stupid as Jethro seems to be.
  • Rags to Riches
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The Ballad of Jed Clampett recorded by legendary Bluegrass duo Flatt & Scruggs.
  • Reunion Show: The Return of the Beverly Hillbillies (1981), which reunited Buddy Ebsen, Donna Douglas (Elly May), and Nancy Kulp (Miss Hathaway) from the original show but cast a different actor as Jethro and replaced Granny with Imogene Coca as Granny's Maw.
  • Rich Boredom: Jed Clampett.
  • Same Sex Triplets: Ellie May mentioned having fought a set of triplets in The Film of the Series. While it was not specifically stated, it's implied the three of them are males.
  • Sitcom
  • Smarter Than You Look: Although he doesn't have a lot of book learnin', Jed has a lot of natural cunning and perception, and routinely outsmarts people who assume that he's dumb because of his rural upbringing.
  • Spiritual Successor: Fresh Prince of Bel Air and The Nanny both followed this show's lead in moving their main characters from what is considered to be a lower class setting to a higher class one.
  • Story Arc: A early sitcom example.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Jethro's female cousin Jethrine.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Unresolved for most of the series' run is the one-sided sexual tension that Jane feels for Jethro. Oddly enough, Jethro seemed aware of Jane's feelings when they first got to know each other, but this was completely forgotten by the next episode and remained forgotten.
  • Watering Down: Granny, a moonshiner, usually make strong liquor. But she usually waters it down for the city folks who couldn't handle it at full strength.
  • Westminster Chimes: They have a doorbell that makes this sound. Naturally, whenever someone rings the doorbell, they have no idea where the sound is coming from and attempt to search for its source. Their search is always then interrupted by someone knocking on the door.
    • Lampshaded in the movie, where the family eventually figures out that someone is at the door when they hear the chimes, but still have no idea that the doorbell ringing is caused by the person at the door.
  • What a Piece of Junk!: Their car.
  • X-Ray Sparks
  • You Look Familiar: Buddy Ebsen appeared in a cameo in The Film of the Series... as his other TV role, Barnaby Jones.
    • Bea Benaderet went from playing Cousin Pearl to starring in Petticoat Junction (which often crossed over with "Hillbillies").
  1. No relation to that other Clampett, by the way