CBS’s ‘rural purge’ of 1971 didn’t prevent a ‘surge’ 45 years later.

11/30/18
 
   < < Go Back
 
from The Wall Street Journal,
11/28/18:

‘Hee Haw’ Was Ahead of Its Time.

Roy Clark, a co-host of the long-running variety TV show “Hee Haw,” died this month at 85. Many of my American friends, especially conservative ones, found the program too lowbrow for their tastes. Some even seemed a bit embarrassed by it. To me “Hee Haw” was fun and lighthearted—and politically ahead of its time.

Created by two Canadian writers, Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth, “Hee Haw” premiered on CBS in 1969. The network canceled it in 1971 as part of its “rural purge,” which ended “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Mayberry R.F.D.” and “Green Acres.” But “Hee Haw” continued in first-run syndication through 1993 and was revived by the Nashville Network from 1996-97.

“Hee Haw” gave some viewers, including me, their first exposure to country, old-time and bluegrass music. The show was funny but never mean-spirited. Its sensibility was wholesomely conservative, but it rarely strayed into politics.

Yet some observers now see “Hee Haw” as having foretold political developments of the early 21st century. “Perhaps the 2016 presidential election was a rural surge and an urban purge,” wrote Indiana Wesleyan University’s Jerry Pattengale last year for the Christian Post.

More From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):