Here's why Green Acres is actually brilliant
Find out what made the simple show great.
There are a ton of factors that contribute to making a TV show watchable. It's hard to strike the perfect balance, and that's why most shows aren't watchable at all. But, every once in a while, a show comes along that presses all the right buttons and scratches all the right itches. This rare show, despite all its carefully-tuned ingredients, seems so effortlessly compelling. The truth, though, is that even a show as seemingly uncomplicated as Green Acres is a finely calibrated piece of television.
In December of 1967, the Rochester, New York-based Democrat and Chronicle published a piece written by its TV-Radio Editor, John Heisner. The article praises the program in a way that countered many of Heisners' contemporaries. While most critics at the time dismissed Green Acres as just "another of those hillbilly-city folk" sitcoms, Heisner recognized the key components that made Green Acres such an iconic show.
Three key components made the Douglases and their exploits so amusing. First, there was the format, which placed two hoity-toity city types smack in the middle of rural nowhere. The "riches in rags" premise led to clear and immediate comedy. Second, there were the series regulars on Green Acres, who populated the show with likable, laughable characters. The third and most essential element was the two actors that led the show. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor had a palpable chemistry that brought their characters to vibrant life.
"Eva is perfect for the role," said Albert. "She is so obviously 'big city' that she can really do justice to her 'fish-out-of-water' type role."
Eve Gabor brought a lot to her role as Lisa Douglas. She had a public life that viewers automatically associated with her character. even before the audience learned anything about Lisa Douglas, there was something funny, right away, in seeing real-life socialite Eva Gabor on a farm.
At a 1984 screening, American Film Institute program director Mike Clark spoke about what set the series apart from others of its time.
"It was very easy to just consider it another attempt to appeal to rural audiences and dismiss it as that," said Clark. "But if you actually sit and watch it, you could see there was something more going on there.
"When Eddie and Eva are in bed and they slide back a panel behind the bed and they're outside, how could that be anything but surreal? You never see that kind of thing on other comedies."
It was just good— deceptively simple— television.