‘The Beverly Hillbillies’: How One Geological Storyline in the Sitcom Wouldn’t Actually Happen in Real-Life

by Madison Miller

The family from “The Beverly Hillbillies” struck gold in the very first episode of the 1960s sitcom.

Or, in their case, they struck oil.

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ Mistake

The first episode of the series premiered on September 26, 1962. The episode is called “The Clampetts Strike Oil.” During the course of the story, Jed Clampett, the family patriarch, is informed that there is oil in the swamp on his property.

Jed agrees to a deal with the oil executive. He ends up telling Cousin Pearl that he would be getting “some new kind of dollar” from the deal. What he meant was he would be getting 25 to 100 “million dollars.”

After, the family decides to move to Beverly Hills, California. The show then focuses on the Clampett family, which originally struggled even putting food on the table, navigating being extremely wealthy in a community of rich people.

There’s one small problem, however. According to IMDb, the idea that Jed had a massive oil deposit in his backyard full of crude oil is highly unrealistic. Oil deposits are unable to form near mountains due to their geological makeup.

The family is originally living in the hills of the Ozarks. This means that the mountain region would not be able to support the formation of an oil pocket. They are instead usually found in desert areas and arctic seas.

Luckily, “The Beverly Hillbillies” certainly is not a biographical representation of anything. The absurdity of finding oil where they live only adds to the absurdity that happens in nearly every episode of the series.

Reason for Cancellation

While the show was on, it was rated as one of the 20 most-watched programs on TV for the eight out of nine years it was on the air. Similarly, the show was the No. 1 program in the country for its very first two seasons.

Usually, it’s poor ratings that lead a show into the ground. However, that wasn’t the case necessarily for “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

According to Snopes, it was also not a “controversial scene,” which some online videos try to claim. The show was canceled due to the “rural purge” that happened during the 1970s. This is where series featuring rural settings and characters were canceled in an attempt to appeal more to the urban and young population. This is the opposite demographic “The Beverly Hillbillies” was attracting.

The show was replaced instead with programs like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All in the Family,” and “The Bob Newhart Show.”