Beverly Hillbillies Characters - A Class Act! by Wendy Pan
The Beverly Hillbillies
characters were created and brought to TV screens all
over America and the rest of the world from 1962-71. CBS
and the writer Paul Henning gave the Beverly Hillbillies
characters the subversive task of fighting a class war
in the imaginations of the TV watching classes of the
world. America is often called the "classless society"
but that is no truer than the Beverly Hillbillies
characters are real people.
The Beverly Hillbillies
characters were (we should say are because somewhere in
the world someone is watching the 'black gold' bubble up
on endless re-runs of the series) members of two
families. There was the working class, unsophisticated,
uneducated Clampetts and the upper class, moneyed,
elitist and snobby Drysdales.
Jed Clampett had good 'down
home' common sense, unfailing optimism and naiveté when
it came to the motives of their neighbors. Like
downtrodden masses everywhere they didn't even realize
that Mrs. Drysdale was always trying to put them back in
Granny Moses had unerringly accurate views on human
nature, and referred to herself an "M.D." or mountain
doctor. In touch with her roots and nature she claimed
to know everything about herbs, potions and tonics. Elly May Clampett was the
awesomely strong and capable daughter.
Guaranteed to keep the
male audience tuning in she had a deep rapport with all
animals and adopted a great diversity of them. There
were raccoons and a chimpanzee, as her "critters."
Despite her Earth mother side there was a brilliant
running joke on her inability to cook. Her concoctions
were not only inedible but, when the clan discreetly fed
her meals to the backyard plants as so not to hurt her
feelings, the plants died.
Jethro, was incredibly ignorant
but well meaning and self-centered. Jethro called
himself "Beef Jerky," imagining himself a playboy and
sophisticated man-about-town. In episode after episode
this class warrior would sally forth into the world and
unwittingly outwit the gold-digging moneyed elite that
he came across.
The family called their swimming
pool "the cement pond." They were fascinated by it, but
never seemed to grasp its intended use. Another running
joke was that they never discovered the source of the
sound that took place a few times prior to someone
showing up at the front door the doorbell. They were the
noble savages who repeatedly got the better of, without
being triumphal, the Drysdales.
They had been placed on the
class battlefield by the awesome literary device of
giving them a fortune from an oil well on their farm.
They always, wisely shunned the trappings of wealth and
only ever felt at home when doing their own thing.
The Drysdales were always the
most foolish of Beverly Hillbillies characters. Mrs.
Drysdale's had obvious disdain for their neighbors, Mr.
Drysdale was willing to do anything to keep them next
door so as to be able to go on exploiting their millions
of dollars in his bank. Episodes in 1962 and 1966
featured his black sheep stepson, Sonny a Momma's Boy
whose "career" was going to college. They tried to marry
him off to Elly May but the purity of the working class
ethic could not be allowed to be diluted. When he jilted
her, there was nearly a feud.
Throughout the series Mrs.
Drysdale led ever more fiendish and funny campaigns to
rid her circle of the great-unwashed Beverly Hillbillies
Even Jed's Bloodhound Duke, was
also a constant adversary to Mrs. Drysdale's side. In
addition to his howling and disrespect for her garden,
he made her French Poodle Claude a cuckold, by fathering
the puppies of his intended mate.
Endearing characters all there is no doubt whose side
Paul Henning was on in the class war of the Beverly
Hillbillies characters Wendy Pan is an accomplished
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Beverly Hillbillies Characters
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