Will Geer compared The Waltons to corn on the cob — in the best way
Not too sweet – just “fresh and tasty.”
The classic family drama The Waltons is often now considered of as feel-good, sugary sweet family entertainment. Though it deals with a large family struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression, everything always seems to work out. But this sentimental reputation doesn't really fit, especially to fans who know the show well.
Certain episodes dealt with real loss and hardship, and the onslaught of World War II provided many dramatic moments. The show even got spooky at times.
When The Waltons premiered in September 1972, the network didn’t think much of its chances. It was up against two extremely popular Thursday night shows, The Mod Squad and The Flip Wilson Show. Early seventies America did not seem keen on anything so sincere and wholesome as stories from rural 1930s Virginia.
Of course, as often happens, the American public proved the TV executives wrong. Earl Hamner Jr.'s heartfelt creation based on his own childhood became immensely popular.
In a behind-the-scenes article written for the November 1973 edition of The Saturday Evening Post, Will Geer explained what he thought of Hamner and the specific tone of the show.
"I’ve always loved Earl Hamner’s books. This show of his has a sweetness about it. Not saccharine sentimentality, but the kind of sweetness which to my mind is associated with good sweet corn, fresh and tasty," Geer said.
What a perfect way to describe The Waltons, straight from Grandpa Zeb himself!
It's a show that's not sugary, tooth-achingly sweet but healthy, refreshing and delicious. So good, you have to go back for seconds.