Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Hooterville Holocaust

In the late 1960's, Americans had become splintered. Television used to unite young and old, but the networks were finding that their programming was only appealing to the older crowd. Advertisers were becoming less interested in television because of this demographic shift and the networks sought to change things up. The most desperate network was CBS, whose audience was the oldest of the big three. 

Thus began the "Hooterville Holocaust", or as it was more popularly known, the rural purge. Any shows with an older skewing audience (many of which were centered on farms or in the country) were marked for cancelation, including CBS' Hooterville Trilogy. The first to go was Petticoat Junction, which was already weakened by the death of its main star Bea Benaderet, but was still getting decent ratings.

Soon edgier shows like All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show made it onto CBS, tackling story lines that would have never been thought about in Hooterville, much less depicted on screen.

Emboldened by the ratings success, CBS went all in, canceling both Green Acres and Beverly Hillbillies, something that would have been unheard of just a few months prior. Despite handily winning their time slots, the Hooterville Holocaust would finally fell these colossal hits.

While the unprecedented cancellations were a shock to the shows' producers and fans, without them, the decks would not have been cleared for such classic shows as M*A*S*H and Good Times. While the rural themed shows were still quite popular, their heyday had come and gone.