Here's why Green Acres is actually brilliant

Find out what made the simple show great.

There are a ton of factors that contribute to making a TV show watchable. It's hard to strike the perfect balance, and that's why most shows aren't watchable at all. But, every once in a while, a show comes along that presses all the right buttons and scratches all the right itches. This rare show, despite all its carefully-tuned ingredients, seems so effortlessly compelling. The truth, though, is that even a show as seemingly uncomplicated as Green Acres is a finely calibrated piece of television. 

In December of 1967, the Rochester, New York-based Democrat and Chronicle published a piece written by its TV-Radio Editor, John Heisner. The article praises the program in a way that countered many of Heisners' contemporaries. While most critics at the time dismissed Green Acres as just "another of those hillbilly-city folk" sitcoms, Heisner recognized the key components that made Green Acres such an iconic show.

Three key components made the Douglases and their exploits so amusing. First, there was the format, which placed two hoity-toity city types smack in the middle of rural nowhere. The "riches in rags" premise led to clear and immediate comedy. Second, there were the series regulars on Green Acres, who populated the show with likable, laughable characters. The third and most essential element was the two actors that led the show. Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor had a palpable chemistry that brought their characters to vibrant life.

"Eva is perfect for the role," said Albert. "She is so obviously 'big city' that she can really do justice to her 'fish-out-of-water' type role."

Eve Gabor brought a lot to her role as Lisa Douglas. She had a public life that viewers automatically associated with her character. even before the audience learned anything about Lisa Douglas, there was something funny, right away, in seeing real-life socialite Eva Gabor on a farm. 

At a 1984 screening, American Film Institute program director Mike Clark spoke about what set the series apart from others of its time.

"It was very easy to just consider it another attempt to appeal to rural audiences and dismiss it as that," said Clark. "But if you actually sit and watch it, you could see there was something more going on there.

"When Eddie and Eva are in bed and they slide back a panel behind the bed and they're outside, how could that be anything but surreal? You never see that kind of thing on other comedies."

It was just good— deceptively simple— television. 

Watch Green Acres on MeTV!

Weeknights at 9:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

15 Comments

OldRog 7 months ago
Paul Henning was a writer for The George Burns & Gracie Allen Show, and George was a big booster of the "unbelievable" comedy concept, helping produce shows about talking dogs, talking horses, and talking babies. Green Acres just flips the script on Burns & Allen. A sane world had to deal with a daffy Gracie. Green Acres is a sane Oliver Douglas having to deal with an entirely daffy community. Wonderfully done with excellent actors in every role.
Pacificsun 7 months ago
Quote: "When Eddie and Eva are in bed and they slide back a panel behind the bed and they're outside, how could that be anything but surreal? You never see that kind of thing on other comedies."

The entire article (point) can be wrapped up in the single quote above. Nobody disputes the presentation of the Series (theme, format) is a piece of surreal art. What they neglected to point out, is that there's little realism involved. Except perhaps for the vehicles and costumes. But seriously nobody makes "hotscakes" repeatedly and expects someone to eat them. Or for a beloved pig character to be involved with television. The presentation of the premise was so far out of possibility, it tested the publics acceptance of imagination (fantasy). And that's fine. But the real credit should've focused on the silly stories with only a shred of purpose and how the actors carried out the storyline. In fact there was honest chemistry across the board. But viewers had a particular fondness for EG and EA who never held back on their honest attraction for each other (as confirmed through several interviews of the day). There was that sexual tension of would they, or not. And how far could it be taken?
tootsieg 7 months ago
Those 4 words “it was just good” sums up why the show is still popular after premiering 58 years ago.
JDWJDW2 7 months ago
What I like about Green Acres is that Oliver Wendell Douglas is so smart and he's surrounded by complete idiots. The "idiots" can all understand each other but they don't understand Oliver and he don't understand them at all. I also like when Oliver throws the pitchfork during the opening credits because he's so into his work that he don't know what he's doing.
Pacificsun JDWJDW2 7 months ago
ARE they "complete idiots" or rather, oblivious to "expectation." Meaning, is there a viable place in society for non-conformity? Of course the point (purpose) needed to be taken to an extreme to be evident. But society is filled with that kind of personality, who often lacks the recognition deserved for operating (performing) as an independent thinker! IMO was another undercurrent of messaging! Fortunately filled with tons of laugher and insanity so the viewer never felt the preaching! LOL!
15inchBlackandWhite 7 months ago
I loved this show as a kid. Then later in life I ended up living in a couple of rural locations in the Midwest where I found there was more truth to it than I'd realized. Those people....Mr. Haney, Mr. Kimball, Sam Drucker.....they're actually out there!
MrsPhilHarris 7 months ago
Love Green Acres. Arnold is my favourite character.
WGH 7 months ago
Another "fish out of water", done in a similar vein, with a normal couple looking to get away from it all in a town of rural people is Newhart.

And Ava gabor's real life Persona fit her character so well making it instantly believable. Much like Charlie Sheen and Charlie Harper on Two and a Half Men.

The opposite of this was rural people moving to the big city, the Beverly hillbillies.
Pacificsun WGH 7 months ago
Eva Gabor. Every actor deceased or not, deserves fair recognition. They worked hard for their identity.
Runeshaper 7 months ago
Green Acres was EXCELLENT!
BrittReid Runeshaper 7 months ago
Hilarious..........Alf & Ralph Monroe.
JHP BrittReid 7 months ago
I live with a female version of Hank Kimball
JDWJDW2 JHP 7 months ago
Oh my God that must drive you freaking nuts. Hank Kimball would drive me to drink. Women seem to be confused by nature anyway, but a female version of Hank Kimball would probably drive me to jump off a bridge.
JHP JDWJDW2 7 months ago
LAUGH OUT LOUD!:) did you install some sneaky cameras in my Casa? :)
You my friend - got the response #1 for the year to one of my responses.

I dread asking her a question its NEVER
hot or cold
sweet or salty
(driving) left or right
on or off..
and then when I make the decision she doesnt like it

there is a scene in TAGS where aunt BEEatch asks andy
"should I make a angel food of chocolate cake?"
andy says (I think) "chocolate"
BEEatch says "I think I'll make angel food"

JHP 7 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?