by Jack Kean
According to a number of my highly placed sources, including Georgia Senator Zell Miller, CBS is planning a new so-called reality television show titled, “The Real Beverly Hillbillies.” Producers are scouting the rural south to find a family for this breakthrough television programming.
Bad teeth, poor grammar, enough empty beer cans to fill a dump truck, and a dog that doubles as your doorbell are just a few of the requirements. A gaggle of producers interview the first row at every Hank Williams Jr. concert. I categorically deny the rumor that my family was considered perfect for the show.
“Hey, Paw, there’s a big cement pond out where the barn ought to be.”
“They’s got one of them little picture shows in a box. Ain’t nobody playing the piano like when Mary Pickford’s on at Mr. Simmon's movie house.”
“I looked out in the back pasture and didn’t see the outhouse nowhere.”
“Heck fire, Maw, I’m a heap bigger than most of the kids in sixth grade.”
Does CBS expect witty dialogue like this in their proposed new series when they place rural Americans smack in the middle of all those sophisticated, debonair, wealthy, SUV driving, pseudo environmentalist tree huggers who live in California?
Putting people in strange environments is a comedy staple. Do you remember Crocodile Dundee and what he said when someone attempted to mug him in New York? “That’s not a knife. This is a knife.” He pulled out a huge hunting knife and the would-be thief ran off.
It is my belief that the Beverly Hillbillies were a lot better folks than those snobs in Beverly Hills. In spite of their affected lack of sophistication and education, they generally came off superior to their neighbors.
Rural southerners aren’t the only ones who can be made fun of, are they? Let’s get an African-American family from the ‘hood to the upper eastside. You say that’s been done, true, but with actors. Can you imagine the turmoil if television moguls were looking for uneducated African-Americans to put in an embarrassing situation so the whole world could laugh at them?
Maybe we can get some of those big shot Wall Street types who have lost fortunes in the past couple of years and put them in a hunting shack deep in the southern woods. We’d drive them out there with a little flour, sugar, salt, coffee and not much else.
What would they say?
“Irma, where’s the closest Starbucks?”
“My Lord, get rid of that gun over the fireplace before you shoot somebody.”
“What is this pole with a tiny string on it?”
“Can we order pizza?”
“Did they leave bagels?”
“Where’s the microwave?”
“How do you turn on the fireplace?”
“There are four dogs and no pooper scooper?”
Hank Williams Jr. put it this way in his song, A Country Boy Can Survive:
I live back in the woods you see.
My woman and the kids and the dogs and me.
I got a shotgun, a rifle and a four wheel drive.
And a country boy can survive.
So CBS, eat some grits, drink a Coke, and kiss this hillbilly idea goodbye.
Jack Kean is a native Mississippian who currently resides in Pelham, Alabama. He is the author of Deadly Sacrifice and Being From The South Doesn’t Make Me Stupid. He is a regular columnist for Modern Senior Living and a contributing columnist to Sand Mountain Living, Tombigbee Country Magazine, SO&SO and other publications.
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