Campaign to Stop the Real Beverly Hillbillies

In 2003 the Center for Rural Strategies launched a national campaign to stop CBS Television from producing "The Real Beverly Hillbillies," a reality show based the network's old sit-com. The concept was simple: Take a poor family from somewhere in rural America and set them up in California with all the trappings of affluence. Then let the cameras roll as the family copes with rich neighbors, electronic gadgets, and cultural clashes. 

CBS defended the proposed reality series as a classic "fish-out-of-water" story. But Rural Strategies and thousands of others across the country said the network was going too far in setting up rural America for ridicule based on intentional stereotyping. After months of activities that included ads in major newspapers, an email and fax campaign, extensive press coverage, a meeting with CBS President Leslie Moonves, and more, CBS dropped the series. [more…]


Op/eds, columns, and letters about reality TV and rural America.

"Gold in Them Thar Hillbillies" by Fenton Johnson
"Up From CBS Comes Bubbling Crudity" by Rudy Abramson
"Wires, Lights, and Ridiculte in a Box" by Dee Davis
"Hillbillies Get Organized" by Anne Shelby
"The Poor in Rural America are Not Laughing" by Loyal Jones

"Letter to CBS" by Senator Sam Brownback (PDF)
"A Slap in the Face" by Representative Hal Rogers
"Letter to the Center of Rural Strategies" by Sentor Kit Bond
"CBS as a ethics-free zone" by Senator Zell Miller
"Letter to Viacom, Inc." by Congressman Ed Whitfield
"Common Decency" by Mike Huckabee

What's the Big Deal?

The Center for Rural Strategies waged a successful campaign to stop CBS Television from creating a reality show based on the old sitcom "The Beverly Hillbillies."

The proposed program would have taken a low-income family from rural America, placed them in a Hollywood mansion, and used their interaction with affluence as the basis for a reality show.

"Imagine the episode where they have to interview maids," said one CBS executive.

Anatomy of a Campaign

This report (PDF) written midway through the campaign to stop the "Real Beverly Hillbillies" discusses the Center for Rural Strategies' methods to use media and communication as means to unite rural activists.

Hillbillies Coalition

Hundreds of groups and individuals joined our fight to stop "The Real Beverly Hillbillies." They ranged from labor unions, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, small-town businesses, artists and entertainers, and others. The coalition includes organizations like these (among many):

Click here to view the entire coalition list.