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The Rural Purge

Discussion in 'TV Shows and Movies' started by Alcott, Sep 2, 2017.

  1. Alcott

    Alcott Well-Known Member
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    How many remember the "rural purge" in television of 1970-71, or at least have read much about it? And, consequently, just how much television changed from the new emphases of programming?

    Television began the 60's with western dramas still the biggest genre, but the success of The Real McCoys in the late 50's proved to TV executives something many had previously resisted until then-- that Americans in large numbers would be willing to watch country-themed comedies. CBS followed TRM with The Andy Griffith Show, which was even a bigger hit in the ratings. Then came the Henning comedies-- The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres-- all of which were rating bonanzas in their first few seasons. This kind of programming gave CBS the sneering nickname, the Country Broadcasting System, by the other networks, as well as by critics of television in general as being a wasteful endeavor and an unrespectable and irrelevant form of entertainment.

    But as would have been known without figures and ratings, trends are only temporary, and the interest in these shows was beginning to wain as the late 60's approached. And advertisers, the companies the money was made from, were getting more upset because such shows did not appeal to the demographics they wanted-- young adults and couples with families living in the big urban and suburban areas, particularly on the east and west coasts. So there began a backlash against these shows by their principal network (CBS), and they began hiring people who would conspire to put an end to them. And it was not only the rural comedies, nor only CBS, that caught the advertisers' axe, but also shows that appealed to audiences that were "too old," and did not spend their limited incomes on trendy items as young professional urbanites did. So the older type of variety shows-- Ed Sullivan, Red Skelton, and Jackie Gleason-- were ousted because their audiences were made up largely of the older folks, along with Lawrence Welk and the new and popular parody variety Hee Haw. Welk because, again, not enough young adults watched it, and Hee Haw because it was another rural-themed show, even more cornpone than the the country sitcoms, and did not reach the more sophistocated types. Even Lassie was canceled by CBS, this one because it was thought of as a children's show, and children don't spend much money. Actor Pat Buttram (Green Acres) spoke the well-known quote, "This was the year CBS canceled every show with a tree in it, including Lassie."

    I was in the 6th and 7th grades when this was going on, and I didn't really notice it much at the time. After all, emerging new interests in the 'real' world predominated for me, even though I had always liked those country shows. And when I did watch TV, I didn't like the shows that had replaced them-- such as All in the Family, Flip Wilson, Sanford and Son,... These new shows, which were called "more relevant" were less relevant to me. And TV has never been the same since.

    So... what do you think about TV shows-- comedies in particular-- that deal with zany country clowns and don't even mention the big issues of the day? In the 60's, of course that was Vietnam and the civil rights movement-- consider that Gomer Pyle, a country clown in the Marines, and a show that always ranked in the top 10, did not refer to Vietnam in its entire 5-year run (1964-69). Was the move to 'relevant' shows, which featured bigots and shouting matches about social issues, a good move away from 'escapist' television? Personally I think the oversaturation of rural comedies probably ruined them indefinitely. By the mid-70's there was no way another Green Acres type of show-- rural to the extreme, but also very satirical in a loopy way-- would be produced. But there would be the equally ridiculous episodes of shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and Alf.
     
  2. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    I think it's terrible that so many country folk are afflicted by bulimia nervosa. I had no idea!

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  3. InTheLight

    InTheLight Well-Known Member
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    I remember the era. Green Acres was essentially the reverse situation of The Beverly Hillbillies. Now that I'm an adult I can wonder what three attractive young ladies were really doing living in a hotel being run by an older madame, skinny dipping in the water tower, etc.

    Along with the shows about innocent country people there were also shows about innocent city and suburban people. Leave it to Beaver, Brady Bunch, My Three Sons, Happy Days, etc.

    I agree that the sitcom took a turn for the worst with the advent of edgy and so-called relevant shows like All in the Family, Maude, the Jefferson's, even Mary Tyler Moore had moments.

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  4. JohnDeereFan

    JohnDeereFan Well-Known Member
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    The only reason I cared was that Pat Buttram's family went to our church and, even though he had long ago left the hills for Hollywood, he would still come back and visit us. So it was kind of cool for us kids to know him, and he was always very kind to us kids.

    I always liked Gunilla Hutton, who was on both Petticoat Junction and Hee Haw. Couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but was sure nice to look at.
     
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