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The Beverly Hillbillies creator didn't care about critics

The Beverly Hillbillies seem to be one of those shows that many either love or hate, leaving little room for the middle ground. The series first premiered in 1962 and was quick to receive a variety of mixed reviews from critics all across the country.

For those who aren't familiar, the silly storyline follows a rag to riches family who found oil and struck gold in the rural Ozarks region. The family packs up their 1921 Oldsmobile and heads for Beverly Hills. 

Creator of the series, Paul Henning, based a lot of the characters' quirks on his real experience growing up in Missouri and camping in the Ozarks. That's what made the critics' words harsh to hear. They weren't just insulting his show, they were insulting his favorite people. 

According to a 1964 interview with The Independent, Henning said television critics tended to use a variety of harsh words to describe not only The Beverly Hillbillies, but his other hit series Petticoat Junction too. 

But Henning didn't let the critics get to him. The mild-mannered Missourian just kept turning out episodes and in turn he became a rich man with very little to worry about - including what people thought of his series.

"Of course, it's only human to smart a little under their attacks, but I don't let them worry me," Henning said. "Fact is, I don't have time to worry about anything except to keep on schedule with the two programs. My wife even letters me at the office so I'll know what's going on at home."

Both The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction aired on TV around the same time. This kept Henning busy and balancing a hectic work schedule that would keep him away from his family longer than he would like. 

According to the interview, both of Henning's series were ranked among the top in the Nielsen ratings, but that didn't stop the critics from writing scathing reviews aimed at the cancellation of the series. 

Henning said comedy was his business. He tried to cut out the noise and focus on what he believed to be his only job: To amuse the viewers at home. It's safe to say that Granny, Jethro, and the rest of the family navigating Beverly Hills was as amusing as it could be. 

"The critics today aren't content to say they don't like a program when it starts," Henning said. "If it is one that gains popularity, they seem to keep snipping at it, as though seeing it high in the ratings every month annoys them."

"Of course, the business has changed in recent years," Henning continued. "The ratings bit never used to cause any talk or concern outside of the trade. But lately the reviewers and television columnists put so much emphasis constantly on this that the ordinary viewers go around talking about ratings in general conversation."

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