The Beverly Hillbillies includes the portrayal of rich versus poor, the American dream, wealth, and social mobility in popular culture. The Hillbillies was a phenomenon of post-World War II America, the second wave after the 1950s, the dustbelt Depression meets the promise of opportunity achieved through luck. Luck counts in liberal society. It is, said Machiavelli, "the arbiter of half of what we do." But is success based on luck really the American dream? And who is the bigger success story-the Hillbillies or those who have earned their wealth? Whom do we want to be or be like? Everyone wants to win the lottery, but is everyone willing to do what it takes to achieve financial independence without winning the lottery? Does winning the lottery bring social status or can it only be achieved by labor?
In sum, Paul Henning's brilliant comedy series The Beverly Hillbillies is replete with political ideas and has come to occupy a special place in popular culture as a classic television icon because of its deeper meaning and relationship to how we think about wealth, status, social mobility and the American dream.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 198
Weight: 422 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 20 mm
Near the conclusion of her case that the 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies addressed sundry questions about American culture and the American dream, Feldman maintains that while the show `ask[ed] us to suspend our disbelief,' it, nonetheless, remained `believable.' Some readers familiar with The Beverly Hillbillies may continue to question this claim even after reviewing Feldman's strenuous efforts to identify the, in her view, manifold ways in which Paul Henning, the show's creator, wove into his scripts commentary on American understandings of the relative merits of acquiring wealth through luck or achievement, the tension between urban culture and `country values,' and the perennial question of whether or not money can buy one happiness. Feldman display's knowledge of classical and modern political thought and a talent for drawing on this knowledge to tease occasional insights out of even this most unlikely of source material that may appeal to undergraduates. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates all levels. * CHOICE *
Informed by her command of classical and modern understandings of politics, economics, and human nature, Leslie Feldman's work on The Beverly Hillbillies shows us how the pursuit of happiness at the heart of the American dream finds its fulfillment not in possessions, wealth, or status, but in those experiences which prove the bedrock of our republic and the heart of shared civic life: family, friends, hard work, civic engagement, humility, and trust. In an era that some critics are calling a golden age of TV, Leslie Feldman reminds us that this classic of American television provides us with an education in civics every bit as insightful as its contemporary rivals. -- Bernard J. Dobski, Assumption College