Television has taught me many things. It is truly the great educator.

“Dear TV,

“Thank you for teaching me that I can kill a vampire by staking it through the heart or decapitating it, but that garlic and crosses will only scare it off or burn it, not kill it.

“I am a better person for knowing that if you put a bunch of good-looking women in a mansion with a complete dork of a guy, and roses are up for grabs, the gals will turn on each other to win the heart (and long stem) of the dude.

“Thank you for teaching me what the fashion future will look like. Without you, I never would have guessed that we would all be wearing turtle-neck jumpsuits in various primary colours, while exploring the universe in our space-ships.

“And because of you, TV, I know that people who live in the country all know each other and are frequently and unfortunately related to one another.”

Consider this:

Affable Sam Drucker, who kept Petticoat Junction’s Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo and Billie Jo in supplies, also helped out the gang from Green Acres, since both shows were set in the imaginary Hooterville.

When Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies was shown a picture of Petticoat Junction matriarch Kate Bradley, she was astonished at just how like Jed’s cousin Pearl Bodine Kate was (funny that, since they were both played by Bea Benaderet).

Meanwhile, fans of Green Acres could also run into characters Nute Kiley and Floyd Smoot at any given time down at the Junction. Those Hooterville hussies.

And most importantly, Betty Jo, Bobbie Jo and Billie Jo’s dog, imaginatively called Dog, later showed up elsewhere on TV as the one and only Benji.

My point, and I do have one (respect, Ellen DeGeneres), is this: where did all the early-60s down-home country shows go? It’s like they were all so interconnected that when one went, the others followed. Or maybe there was some kind of secret conspiracy to get rid of all reference to rural America in the 60s. Hooterville closed in upon itself and we were left alone in the oh-so-mod suburban landscapes of late 60s and early 70s sitcoms.

Not that I’m complaining about the city shows: Get Smart, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie and their friends pretty much brought me up (pardon, Mum and Dad). But sometimes, you just want to escape to where the grass is greener and the air is sweeter. Know what I mean?

And how pretty were those girls! When I was 13, my family moved to the country, and I so longed to have shiny, nut-brown hair, 10-inch eyelashes, and beautiful gingham dresses cinched in at the waist … or endless, tanned legs in torn-off denim shorts. Those shows just made the country so darned good-looking. I tried, but sadly, around my neighbourhood, flannelette shirts, skinny black jeans and ugg boots were de rigeur. And since it was the 80s, you could also find a ‘rat’s tail’ dangling from the back of every second boy’s head. Oh man.

So I needed Petticoat Junction and the ‘Jo’s’ to help me feel good about my exile from the metropolis. They made me think the country was sweet, and pure, and healthy, but a little bit naughty, and that if I hung around in gingham for long enough I’d meet a deep-voiced, gorgeous cattle-drover who’d make it all worthwhile.

But the Hooterville Cannonball train rolls no longer. Maxwell and Ninety-nine boogying ‘undercover’ on some psychedelic dance-floor may be all well and good, but it just rubs the faces of all those poor country gals like teenaged me in the fun they’re NOT having.

Now most of my friends know me as ‘research gal’. If something makes me curious, I’ll tend to dive head-first into it until I find the answers. So I googled Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies, and guess what I found? It WAS a conspiracy! They ditched all the cornball hicks on purpose. Those bastards.

The story goes that by the late 60s, CBS found it was lagging in certain demographics and wanted a more “hip, urban” lineup to attract younger viewers. So OUT went Green Acres, and The Beverly Hillbillies, Hee Haw and Mayberry RFD and by 1970, it was bye bye Petticoat Junction too. And 20 years later, when we ran out of reruns, CRACK went my heart and hopes of marrying a good-looking farmer.

All I have left now is the theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies spinning in my head, the ghost of better viewing times, though it has morphed into the ‘naughty’ version we used to sing in primary school:

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up through the ground popped a Granny in the nude.

Nude that is, no clothes on.