While the clash of different cultures is certainly fascinating to watch, it can also be a source of humor as The Beverly Hillbillies perfectly demonstrates. Airing on CBS for nine seasons, the show told the story of the backwoods Clampett family who accidentally strike it rich in oil.
So they move from rural Appalachia to the upscale Beverly Hills area, resulting in several misunderstandings due to the Clampetts’ ignorance of modern culture. Although since Beverly Hillbillies came out in the 1960s, the modernness it portrays is ultimately dated. On top of that, some of its jokes have aged very poorly.
Because hippies were everywhere in the late 1960s, it was common to see them on television shows at the time as well. Even The Beverly Hillbillies had a few episodes with hippies, such as “Robin Hood of Griffith Park” and “Back to the Hills.”
With that said, hippies weren’t depicted positively on television and the ones on Beverly Hillbillies were no better. On top of that, it comes across as dated and not particularly funny.
Prior to hippies, there had been beatniks. Now even though the two subcultures often get clumped together under the counterculture movement, there are some differences.
For instance, beatniks typically wore black clothes and did poetry slams in coffeehouses while hippies wore colorful clothing and did protests. Yet beatniks were given exaggerated depictions on television like hippies, as seen in The Beverly Hillbillies episode “Big Daddy, Jed.” Additionally, these depictions are arguably more dated than hippies.
8 Jethro’s Dimwitted Behavior
Aside from dated cultural references, there were aspects with The Beverly Hillbillies characters that today’s audiences probably wouldn’t find funny. One example is Jed Clampett’s nephew Jethro Bodine, who’s defined by his dimwitted behavior which is played for laughs.
While dumb characters have been a staple of comedy, it can cross the threshold of being annoying. This is arguably the case for Jethro, and somewhat controversial as his behavior falls into the “white cracker” stereotype.
7 Elly May Being Criticized For Her Tomboyishness
Since the 1960s weren’t that progressive when it came to portraying women in the media, it’s more apparent in The Beverly Hillbillies. Because while Jed’s daughter Elly May was a tomboy, she was often criticized for it.
After all, the Clampetts had very traditional views about women like wearing dresses and getting married. But what makes it worse is that Elly May’s unladylike behavior is treated like a running joke, which isn’t considered funny nowadays.
6 Mr. Drysdale Treating His Assistant Jane Unfairly
Besides the Clampetts, there were supporting characters in The Beverly Hillbillies show such as Jed’s banker and neighbor Mr. Drysdale. While Mr. Drysdale was a hilariously greedy man, his behavior sometimes went too far.
Particularly in how he treated his female assistant Jane, whom he threatened to fire whenever she questioned his orders. Additionally, Jane would usually end up suffering and it’s framed as being funny. But now, this kind of humor is arguably sexist.
5 Shorty’s Obsession With Younger Women
In the last two seasons of Beverly Hillbillies, a new supporting character was introduced named Shorty Kellums. A buddy of Jed’s from the Ozarks, his main character trait was being obsessed with attractive younger women.
This in turn is treated like a joke in several episodes, such as “Marry Me, Shorty” where Shorty participates in a bachelor party “slave auction” involving female assistants from Drysdale’s bank. By today’s standards, this is more creepy than funny.
4 Casual Sexual Assault
Because sexual assault is considered a big deal these days, it’s hard to imagine that there was no line drawn back in the 1960s. As a result, women experienced “casual” sexual assault in media without any fuss made.
Even worse, some of these moments would be treated humorously. An example of this can be seen in The Beverly Hillbillies episode “The Great Feud” where Jethro picks up Drysdale’s maid Marie and refuses to put her down.
3 Union Soldier Monkey
Due to Elly May’s love for animals, various critters showed up in Beverly Hillbillies. A few reoccurring ones included a pair of chimpanzees called Skipper and Bessie.
Their main gimmick was wearing different clothes, which was mostly harmless except for one episode called “The South Rises Again.” In it, Granny thinks a Civil War movie being filmed is real and dresses Skipper as a Union soldier to act as a “spy.” Now this could be interpreted as racist, since some Union soldiers were African-American.
2 Ethnic Stereotypes
Aside from the casual sexism, the 1960s weren’t the most politically correct when it came to depicting non-white races in media. Thus, stereotypes were often used and The Beverly Hillbillies had a few.
Some particular episodes included “The Sheik” where Jed meets an oil sheik who shows his gratitude by offering several of his wives. This is not only a racist depiction of Arabs, but also not funny when combined with the Clampetts’ ignorance.
While most people are familiar with blackface, there’s actually a variant called brownface. This applies to the imitation of races that are considered “brown” such as Latin and Native American among others.
It was particularly common in the 1950s and 60s when it came to depicting Native Americans, who were usually played by White people. Even Beverly Hillbillies had episodes with brownface in them, which is meant to be funny but it isn’t at all.