I Hate The Waltons

The whole contemptible Walton clan struggling through hard times with another meager meal.

I hate the Waltons.  Not the Walmart Waltons.   I like them.  Save money.  Shop smart.  Only at Walmart. That’s good stuff. I mean the TV Waltons–John, Olivia, John Boy, Jason, Mary Ellen, Jim Bob, Ben, Erin, Elizabeth, Grandpa and Grandma.  All of them.

In real life, I try not to hate people.  It’s just not good.  I have no such reservations with fictional characters.  Aunt Bee, Jenny from Forest Gump, Bruce Dern in The Cowboys, any Jim Carrey character–each of these is vile in its own way and intended to be so.  The Waltons, though, are different. They are supposed to be sympathetic, even likeable, yet I hate them.  Why?

The Depression

The Waltons lived in the Great Depression, except for them it was the Not So Bad Depression.  They had a house.  A sawmill.  A truck. They lived on Walton’s Mountain, which means they had their own freakin’ mountain, for God’s sake.  Ever see their meals? Roast pig, turkey, chicken, vegetables, pies, cakes–you name it.  My Dad grew up in the Great Depression in a house with seven kids.  Mush, that’s what they ate.  Oh, and maybe ham they cured themselves.  The Waltons lived like kings.  I hate that.

Here’s what a family with seven kids looked like during the Depression.

The Parents

John and Olivia were a lovey-dovey pair right up until Olivia got shipped off to a TB sanitarium in a contract dispute. So solemn, so wise, just like real parents, right?  Here’s how you’d be if you had seven kids with all the drama of that crowd:  John Boy would come in with one of his pressing social issues he was trying to resolve.  John would look at him and say:  “How the hell should I know?”  Or he’d say something like:  “Hey, egghead, how ’bout working at the damn sawmill for a while?”

The Kids

Okay, I know there were seven of them, but there really were only three and a half for all practical purposes.  John Boy, Mary Ellen and Jason. These were the Big Three before anyone ever heard of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.   The other four just drifted in and out occasionally.  I’m not even sure Erin was really on the show.  She disappeared for long stretches.  I never could keep Jim Bob and Ben straight.  I had to remind myself that Jim Bob delivered his lines like he’d suffered a debilitating head injury.

One would think that the casting folks could have at least tried to find kids who resembled each other to play siblings.  In a modern setting, that bunch would have subject to DNA testing the first time anyone saw them together.

John Boy is my biggest problem.  He’s like one of those people you should like, but you just can’t.  You know the type.  The neighbor who is very friendly, always speaks and will help you with anything.  You want to kick a nail into his ear.  John Boy is like that.  Almost every episode has “Here he goes, again” moment with John Boy.  He’s helping someone or misunderstood or stuck in the middle of some issue.  Lighten up, John Boy.

Earl Hamner wrote The Waltons, and I assume John Boy–being a writer–is modeled after him.  That probably explains why he dominates the Walton landscape.  Here’s a question:   Was Hamner called Earl Boy?  If not, why the hell is John called John Boy?  NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN CALLED THAT!  If you grew up in the ’70’s and shared this name, you were at some point called “John Boy.”  Even today, you will be called that.  I know from whence I speak on this one.  That is reason enough to hate John Boy.

I have to mention Fake John Boy.  At some point in the series, Richard Thomas (John Boy) decided to leave to pursue other acting opportunities in the most ill-conceived career move since Pernell Roberts abandoned the Ponderosa to embark on his storied movie career.  Fake John Boy was worse than the real one.  He wasn’t John Boy.  Oh, he was nauseatingly earnest like the real one, but you couldn’t help but yell “FAKE!” when he was on the screen.  Okay, maybe I’m the only one who did that.


Look, I know generations of families used to live to together.  I guess that was realistic enough.  Man, these two had their noses in everything.  I hated them.

Wil Geer played Grandpa.  He was a hippie and friend of Woody Guthrie, which means I should have liked him, but no, I didn’t.  I think it’s because the writers couldn’t figure him out.  Was he comic relief?  Was he a wise old sage?  Was he just a pain in the ass like some old people?  You never knew for sure.  To some extent, he suffered from a 1970’s phenomenon known as “The Hip Oldster.”  In the ’70’s, TV writers, being largely devoid of original ideas, wrote every older character the same.  They would be hip, oversexed, “cool” people.  They rode motorcycles and said naughty things.  Sometimes, that’s what they did with Grandpa.  Sometimes, he was the voice of reason.  Mostly, he just annoyed me.

Ellen Corby was a little more tolerable as Grandma.  She actually acted liked an old lady.  Surly, hard to deal with, opinionated and not particularly pleasant.  Now that I think about it, I kinda of like her.

The Godseys

Ike Godsey owned the General Store.  Other than a few passing references to “hard times,”  Ike seems to have thrived through the Great Depression and the rationing of World War II.  His store was FULL of stuff.  He was probably the richest man in Virginia by the end of the war.

Cora Beth wouldn’t have been so fired up about “Mr. Godsey” if he’d owned this Depression era store.

He married Cora Beth, an impossibly haughty friend or distant relative of Olivia’s who showed up to sponge off the Waltons’ inexplicable largesse.  Ike decided to marry her.  Even John recognized what a pain in the ass Cora Beth was and tried to talk Ike out of marrying her.  Like a lot of folks, he didn’t listen and married her anyway.  She continued to preen around for years.  Oh, and she always called Ike “Mr. Godsey.”  I hated that.

How about have Erin turn up pregnant and marry Ike in a shotgun wedding?  That would have been a ratings bonanza!  Plus, Erin would have actually played role in the show.  No, we got Cora Beth.  I hated her.

The Pathos

At the heart of The Waltons was some pitiable, sad story with a comparatively uplifting ending, usually because of the superior intelligence or morality of the Waltons themselves.   No family is THAT good, except maybe the Cartwrights.  I cared nothing for it and always wanted the Waltons to get put in their place.  It never happened.  I hated that.

The Ending

Good night, John Boy.  Good night, Mary Ellen.  Good night, Jim Bob.  Blah, blah, blah.  That’s how the show always ended.  Hey, were they all in the same freakin’ room?  That’s weird, especially since they were able to say good night to their grandparents without raising their voices.  I shared a room with two brothers when I was little.  It’s not fun.  Just once–once, mind you–I wanted someone to say:  “Hey, shut the hell up!  I’m trying to sleep!”  No one ever did.  I hated that.

Here’s the kind of house the Waltons would have lived in. I’m guessing they wouldn’t have been quite so chipper at bedtime in this place.

At this point, you’re asking:  “If you hate the Waltons, why do you know so much about them?”  First, that’s really none of your business.  Second, I watched a lot of TV as a kid.  A lot.  I didn’t care what I watched.  I watched the Waltons to just hate them.  Sometimes, my Dad would watch with me and ridicule them.  I liked that.

Occasionally, I’ll see the Waltons on TV and tune in for a few minutes.  It doesn’t take long for me to be disgusted.  I always hope I’ll catch the episode when their house burned.  At least I think that happened.  Maybe that was just my own fantasy.

Good night, John Boy.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012


  1. I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with this show. The only people in this country that don’t like the Waltons are the young people my age(in their 20’s) who are desensitized by their love for violent and sexualized movies, tv shows, and videogames.

    And for the record, I’m not a Christian trying to preach to you how people should be living and acting. I’m an atheist.

    • As a fellow atheist who grew up watching the Walton’s I disagree. They were awful. With only three maybe four channels you watched what was on, even a pious ridiculous show like the Walton’s. I watched to ridicule them and felt superior doing it. I hated every one of them much like the author of this blog. They were dreadfully phony,

      • I LOVE your comments on this site!!! The Walton’s are exactly as described & I was cracking up as I was reading everything. That Cora Beth was Awful & John boy ranted & raved all the time. And with 7 kids, how the hell did he get his own room??
        He also took over the shed, at one point.
        That Erin was described as so pretty ?? lol She even talks about it herself in an interview I read?? I don’t think so!! She pounced on every guy that come to Walnut Grove lol with her mono toned voice.
        The only one I really like in the series was the father Ralph Waite (now he was believable)
        That Cora Beth was the worst calling her husband Mr. Godaey?? Who thought up that stupidity.
        I could go on & on but I can’t be bothered talking about them any further !!!
        And yes I know, why did you watch it? Not sure but maybe it was because I needed a good laugh right at that particular moment.

    • My father did not like the show. He will be 80 next month and had 11 siblings. His father, a blacksmith, died when my father was 8 years old. My father hunted at the age of 8 by himself (with a .22 rifle) to help feed the family. He later cut and hauled pulpwood to a train depot during the summers. He sold animal furs to the Sear & Roebuck buyer who make regular rounds of the small towns in Oklahoma. He hated the Waltons for the reasons Trivial Troll does. Being a Korean war veteran he could not stand the MASH TV series either. Every soldier who wanted to fight or showed any patriotism was portrayed as crazy or a villain. Every deserter, North Korean, or Chinese was portrayed sympathetically and in some instances aided in avoiding capture.

  2. Don’t you have anything better to do? I know. .go watch the waltons !!! For your info, Walmart is overpriced, cheapmade garbage, and the employees are all about as slow as a dog dragging its ass.

  3. The Waltons program was just okay except for John Boy and Mary Ellen. John Boy always tried to be the big shot, speaking out of turn, taking over, quick tempered, ranting and raving about something or other. Why would parents consult a 16 or 17 year old about adult things that were none of his business? Mary Ellen was a spoiled, mouthy brat. When those two were corrected for their actions, Olivia made excuses for them and talked John into being understanding. Those two always got away with everything. I felt sorry for Jason because he always seemed to be trying to do his best. The younger kids were just kids so they weren’t so bad. As far as Olivia and the grandmother were concerned, if you weren’t Baptist, drank and smoked, you were considered beneath them. The only people who ever surfaced again were Michael Learned and Richard Thomas.

  4. I personally see NOTHING wrong with it! Most tv shows have gross stuff in them so the Waltons are a nice break. Pepper that was a funny way of telling how awful Walmart is, and sooooo true! Only problem with the Waltons? To much Jonh-Boy! Always featured like the main character! And all the other kids are hardly shown! So annoying…..

  5. Boy that was funny and on point. Loved. I use to watch because my sister liked it and it reminds me of her and I like good old TV. But… the more you watch the more you see.

    John Boy and Olivia-the great fixers of the world. My goodness just once if somebody would have told them to mind their business, I would have cheered. I could go on and on but will spare you my rant about these two.

    Olivia and Grandma were morally superior, judgmental idiots. All they did was show what is wrong with religion. They actually “punished” by making them read bible verses. What the hell?!

    And Erin’s presence was expressed in one way; these days she would have been the ho of Walton’s Mountain-preachers, soldiers; it’s all good. Speaking of Erin, apparently all the other girls her age were ass ugly because they constantly referred to her “beauty”. She was okay but Come On!

    Ben. The only reason to like him is his occasional step out of the Walton line. Only… did he really marry a stranger to everyone and bring her to the family home to live? And of course, instead of telling him he’d better get busy finding a home for himself and his bride, they give them gifts.

    Yes I was a faithful fan but now I can only watch the really good ones which usually involves rebellion or holiday feature. I also like the one about the fire – things aren’t so great for perfect Olivia.

  6. The fucking Waltons! I hate their left wing leaning hillbilly guts. John Boy (with a roach constantly humping his cheek) was always annoying, never interesting. He surely got cornholed by that skeevy old fag grandpa. Maybe that’s why he was always in a pissy mood. Jimbob was a retard and I can’t even name the other kids. The mom was a pain in the ass and the father always looked like he just woke up from a week long bender. We never watched those assholes when I was a kid. I had good parents.

  7. I started watching The Waltons last year when my Dad was loosing his battle with cancer. He became more and more confused and started to imagine that things he saw on The Waltons,…. had actually happened to him. The first time he told my Mom about the silk that his Grandmother snatched out of his hands (because he wanted to use it to make a kite) we were horrified! As time passed we grew to understand and truly believe that if he had to go… What other place could ever be more peaceful? I used to make fun of John Boy and Jim Bob. I’m thankful for them now.

  8. Love the analysis. Yes, I hated the Waltons, but I was too young to analyze characters. My mother’s parents grew up in Eastern Colorado during this time. They each came from families of 8 kids (that lived) and my mother was born in a sod house.

    Nothing, and I mean NOTHING rang true about the family portrayalin The Waltons. I’ve seen my Mom’s pictures and the Waltons nonstop Cornucopia of food, available jobs, and non-stop civility was BS. Plus the whole show was boring as crap.

  9. Where’s Jim-Bob in the picture at the top of the page? Ah, it doesn’t matter. My dad couldn’t stand John-Boy (it always was a stupid name), and I remember feeling uncomfortable even as a little kid watching JB’s impassioned performances. I realized as I got older that the uncomfortable feeling was embarrassment–as he really was embarrassing to watch. I recently saw a reunion show with the “Walton kids” and Earl Hamner, and Earl only talked about how “poignant and touching” JB’s last performance was because it was just as his own life had been, and because of that it was “so moving”…. It was annoying. Nothing like being an egomaniac…

  10. We laughed our way through this blog post! We happen to love The Waltons, but can relate to your criticisms. We have wondered: How in the world did they feed a family of 11 with that pathetic little garden? Why didn’t the Baldwin sisters ever get busted for the “recipe”? How is that the wood stoves are always going, but no one is ever carrying in wood or tending the fire? And, finally, whatever happened to Ashley Longworth?!! Thanks for your hysterically funny blog post. 🙂

  11. My parents are age 86 and liked the Waltons when new.I always liked it, even though John boy always annoyed me.I was in 5th grade when that show began.The error of dates and their ages is what annoyed me throughout the show.The boys had 1970s hair, also…especially Ben.I always thought Erin should’ve married G.W. Instead of having him die.Yes, the Waltons house caught fire…big crackling flames as the family raced to get each other out.John Boy caused it.He smoked a pipe while in college, and had it weakly balanced on a table edge.It fell off and onto the braided rug.Everyone was asleep.John Sr. Redid the house, making it about as before but freshly painted.

  12. Can’t believe nobody said anything about the music (dung, dunk dun dunk, dung dunk dun, Wawa wahnt wahnt wahnt waaaahh. Waha wahnt wahnt wahnt wah-ahhh! etc.). My wife threatened to divorce me the last time I walked around the house doing that one. Hollywood Depression in a can. Always makes me laugh. I always stop when passing through, but only for five minutes (beware: ear worms!). Your essay described perfectly how I see them.

    Another favorite: The Lawrence Welk Show. My wife gets bore-assed with that one too, but she does laugh.

    Keep up the good work. More!

  13. As a sixth-grader who grew-up on a mid-western farm, I watched “The Waltons” when it was ‘new’. Maybe the reality of today’s life and circumstances has jaded me, but there are certain issues that should’ve been apparent even in the 70’s. Simply put, this show was plagued with over-acting and senseless repetition throughout every episode. It would’ve worked on 1930’s radio. Along with being given too many lines and ‘terrible’ situations in every show, “John-Boy’s” constant over-acting is all too evident now, and his character’s vocabulary is NOT that of a rural-boy raised in the mountains of Depression Virginia- I don’t care how many books he had read. “Elizabeth” is the most irritating character on the show, with such questions as “Which way is up? or “What’s air?”, but yet she seems to understand words such as “cotillion”. “Mary Ellen”, who walks away from her wedding at the altar and then marrying the area’s new doctor in 3 weeks of ‘episode time’, is also guilty of over-acting in every show. “Cora Beth”: ’nuff said. Lastly, the Walton’s livelihood: lumber. No one is ever seen cutting down the large trees required for such an endeavor, or hauling-in and removing the branches on each tree. Every scene in their ‘shop’ is that of already-cut wood passing through a small table-saw. This just isn’t how it was or would be, but maybe that’s what the audiences of the ’70’s (and today) wanted. Don’t get me started about “Little House On The Prairie”.

  14. My father grew up during The Great Depression with 7 children in their family. My grandfather and grandmother worked hard and they always had food, though not much else. Every last one of them went to college and most went on to get master degrees. For many, Hard work is a foreign concept. The Waltons worked for what they needed.

  15. With your analysis and all the comments no one mentions the only real reason any young man watched the show back in the day. “none of your business” you say? I know. We all know. It was Judy Norton. Her lips alone would give me a hard on! That bitch was smokin’ hot! Everyone knew the show sucked, that wasn’t the point now was it? We all just really wanted to fuck Judy, plain and simple. Watch the show, then excuse ourselves to the bathroom to jerk off like crazy we would. Many was the splooge rockets I launched to that sexy little bitch back then! Even better after toking a joint before hand….(sigh)….I miss the 70’s

  16. Re: The Walton’s, they lived in dirt/dusty/Depression with brand new clothes (not a hint of dirt), always a buffet for meals and there were 0 jobs during the Depression yet John Boy wants to become a writer. During that time individuals were poor, dirty, hungry and had to work from sunup to sundown in complete filth just to survive. The show “The Waltons” is a lying joke.

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