Ah, the slack-jawked yokel. The hick. The hayseed. Where would TV be without this go-to idiot who has become stereotypical shorthand for everything that you don’t want to be. Well, not everything. The slack-jawed yokels, hicks and hayseed in TV history do occasionally rise to the level of philosopher. But just as likely–more than likely, actually–they are prone to being inbred morons in the service of Ted Cruz-style idiocy.
Cletus, the Slack-Jawed Yokel is innocuous enough for a TV hick. I mean, he’s not pure evil like some examples, but he doesn’t get to be a brother-cousin of Jed Clampett, either. He’s closer to the Bodine side of the family as far as that goes. In recent years, Cletus has taken on the last name Spuckler to further emphasize his hickness. Here is one of the few missteps the writers of “The Simpsons” have ever made. He used to be known as Cletus Delroy and the European tone of that name served to remind us that inbreeding is just as as easily found among members of the various royal families of Europe as is among feuding families in Dixie.
Kenneth the page from “30 Rock” is another one of TV’s slack-jawed yokels who has a positive atmosphere going on amongst his ridiculous naivete and sub-par intellect. Kenneth is one of those sweet slack-jawed yokels who can be depended upon to reveal the better angels of the natures of hayseeds, but a dummy is a dummy is a dummy any way you slice it.
O.K. Crackerby is an earlier example of a rarity back then but, thanks to proliferation of state lotteries, has become almost a living a stereotype: the rich hick. In fact, the title character of “O.K. Crackerby” was the richest man in the world. Not that such a title meant this Oklahoma yokel could ever be accepted into high society. Between Jed Clampett and O.K Crackerby, you’d think the snobs back East would realize that hayseeds with more money than blue blood in their veins were all right, Jack. But no. I mean, even the Gilmores were considered barely above the level of slack-jawed yokels by the likes of Rory’s snotty boyfriend’s parents.
You can’t have watched “The X-Files” and not recall with perhaps more clarity than you would wish the family Peacock. “Home” was the episode and it featured a Sheriff Andy Taylor and a deputy named Barney, but we are a long, long way from Mayberry. If you thought that there were slack-jawed yokels in the jail cells and hanging out with Otis the drunk on “The Andy Griffith Show” then boy are you in for a surprise. Inbred hicks take on a whole new meaning in in this episode of “The X-Files.” The Peacocks are the scariest slack-jawed yokels you are likely to ever come across on your TV.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The slack-jawed yokels that appear on one episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” are not demons in the true sense of the world, but they are representative of the demonic reality that permeates much of the social culture responsible for raising generations of slack-jawed yokels. Willow’s tragic lover Tara comes from a generation of slack-jawed yokels who have been keeping their womenfolk in line with a long line of hayseed butter about how they all are cursed to become evil demons once they reach age 20 unless they actively submit to patriarchal domination.