The Beverly Hillbillies creator didn't care about critics

Critics hated it, Henning created it, and the fans kept it rated among the top.

The Beverly Hillbillies seem to be one of those shows that many either love or hate, leaving little room for the middle ground. The series first premiered in 1962 and was quick to receive a variety of mixed reviews from critics all across the country.

For those who aren't familiar, the silly storyline follows a rag to riches family who found oil and struck gold in the rural Ozarks region. The family packs up their 1921 Oldsmobile and heads for Beverly Hills. 

Creator of the series, Paul Henning, based a lot of the characters' quirks on his real experience growing up in Missouri and camping in the Ozarks. That's what made the critics' words harsh to hear. They weren't just insulting his show, they were insulting his favorite people. 

According to a 1964 interview with The Independent, Henning said television critics tended to use a variety of harsh words to describe not only The Beverly Hillbillies, but his other hit series Petticoat Junction too. 

But Henning didn't let the critics get to him. The mild-mannered Missourian just kept turning out episodes and in turn he became a rich man with very little to worry about - including what people thought of his series.

"Of course, it's only human to smart a little under their attacks, but I don't let them worry me," Henning said. "Fact is, I don't have time to worry about anything except to keep on schedule with the two programs. My wife even letters me at the office so I'll know what's going on at home."

Both The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction aired on TV around the same time. This kept Henning busy and balancing a hectic work schedule that would keep him away from his family longer than he would like. 

According to the interview, both of Henning's series were ranked among the top in the Nielsen ratings, but that didn't stop the critics from writing scathing reviews aimed at the cancellation of the series. 

Henning said comedy was his business. He tried to cut out the noise and focus on what he believed to be his only job: To amuse the viewers at home. It's safe to say that Granny, Jethro, and the rest of the family navigating Beverly Hills was as amusing as it could be. 

"The critics today aren't content to say they don't like a program when it starts," Henning said. "If it is one that gains popularity, they seem to keep snipping at it, as though seeing it high in the ratings every month annoys them."

"Of course, the business has changed in recent years," Henning continued. "The ratings bit never used to cause any talk or concern outside of the trade. But lately the reviewers and television columnists put so much emphasis constantly on this that the ordinary viewers go around talking about ratings in general conversation."

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Mannixishot 1 month ago
I recently got into TBH and it's a funny show. It stands the test of time imo. I can laugh my butt off at this show but I'd probably get only a weak chuckle at some of the more current tv shows. It's all a matter of taste. No big deal.
willdo19 1 month ago
I think I liked Petticoat Junction the best!
Stanf 1 month ago
Beverly Hillbillies one of my favorites of all time. I watched the first episode when it came out and still laugh at it in reruns.
Another program which comes to mind which critics despised and also the television network executives hated it as well who gave it the OK to be on the network program schedule is "Gilligan's Island". CBS programming hated the program, the television critics hated the program, but the television public loved it and it showed in the weekly Nielsen ratings. CBS' programming department despised "Gilligan's Island" so much that they moved it three different times in three seasons trying to sabotage the audience ratings. Eventually CBS found a way to rid itself of "Gilligan's Island". "Gunsmoke" had been cancelled after the 1967 season. "Gilligan's Island" had been given the green light to prepare for their fourth season. The wife of the head of CBS at the time Mrs. Paley heard that her favorite show "Gunsmoke" had been cancelled and she went to her husband William to see if they could renew "Gunsmoke" because she liked it. Mr. Paley, being a good loving husband, did not want to disappoint his loving wife so he sent word to the CBS programming department to renew "Gunsmoke". The CBS programming department had to cut a half hour of network programming to add the one hour programming back to the network schedule and they chose the program which they despised, "Gilligan's Island". "Gilligan's Island" could have come back for their fourth season as a mid-season replacement for a program which failed to consistently win their audience ratings against the other two networks' programming, but back in the 1960s the television networks rarely introduced a new program in January.
Kramden62 1 month ago
I absolutely *despise* this show. I especially hated it once it went into syndication in 1972 and my father would subject us to it every day when he'd come home from work. I was glad when the station in our area stopped running the show in 1977 when the contract expired. Poor Dad!
MarkLSuperFan 1 month ago
Ozarks? I thought the Clampetts were from eastern Tennessee, so more like Appalachia. I could well be wrong, but as a fer real Arkansas hillbilly born 15 miles south of the Ozarks National Forest, I'm surprised I didn't pick up on that. There is a community named Bugtussel on the TN-KY border. I thought that was the reference.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
I'm glad that Henning carried on. Sometimes, you just need to avoid the negativity and do what you enjoy.
Andybandit 1 month ago
I am glad the creator, didn't follow the critics. He created a show he believed in.
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
It’s interesting that although critics hated the show, it is still running 60 years later.
Popularity and quality are two different concepts. Sometimes they merge, often not. Still different. One doesn't cause the other.
McGillahooala 1 month ago
Critics of tv, movies, music, etc. are just a waste.
Because they disagree with YOU?
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