Even people who haven’t watched “Green Acres” are familiar with its theme song. And as it turns out, that song represented the first time a show’s male and female leads sang the theme song lyrics.
“Green Acres” beat out “The Monkees” by just one season in that respect. According to IMDb, its theme song derives from the “Shave and Haircut (Two Bits)” riff sometimes deployed at the end of musical performances.
The song remains among the most memorable sitcom themes ever written. And it’s catchy. Think you remember the lyrics? Take a quiz here.
How ‘Green Acres’ Came to Be
“Green Acres” grew out of a 1950s radio show known as “Granby’s Green Acres.” On the radio show, a banker dreams of becoming a farmer. So he moves his family out to the countryside.
The television show shared an executive producer, Paul Henning, with “Petticoat Junction” and “The Beverly Hillbillies.” And all three shows feature rural characters. Which, unfortunately, is what ultimately landed them on the chopping block.
CBS’s Infamous ‘Rural Purge’
In the early 1970s, CBS decided to purge itself of shows that appealed to the rural demographic. The network canceled “Green Acres,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Petticoat Junction” and “Mayberry RFD.”
CBS had analyzed the demographics that watched its shows. And it found those ones were popular with people in rural areas and senior citizens. So the chief of CBS and his director of programming, Fred Silverman, chose to get rid of them. They did that despite the shows’ high ratings. And they replaced the shows with hipper, politically correct shows targeting a younger demographic. Per IMDb, there was a joke at the time that “CBS canceled every show with a tree in it.”
Also gone from the purge were “The Jackie Gleason Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Still, there was a sense at the time that Silverman didn’t want the network to become known for a lineup of “Southern” shows, Closer Weekly reports.
Westerns got branded as “Southern,” too. And not just at CBS. Next thing you know, out went “The Virginian” and “The High Chaparral” on NBC, according to Wide Open Country.
The Rural Purge may have made way for other television classics. But it wasn’t long before audiences were once again seeing more rural shows, such as “The Waltons” and “Little House on the Prairie,” restoring some balance to the urban-rural seesaw.