The Waltons: Down-Home Rural Drama Of That Un-'70s Show

By Jacob Shelton


Mary Elizabeth McDonough and Will Geer appear in a scene from an episode of the television family drama series 'The Waltons.' (Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

The Waltons, a TV drama about a family in rural Virginia during the Great Depression, was remarkably out of step with the '70s -- so why was it so popular? At the time America was deep in the throes of the counter culture, and this sincere, hokey series ran against the grain from the tune in, turn on, drop out generation. But somehow it became one of the most beloved shows of the era, spawning six made for TV movie sequels, and even making its way into a speech by President Bush in 1992. What was it about The Waltons that America loved?

On December 19, 1971, CBS aired The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, a slice of life drama about The Waltons. This made for TV Christmas movie became an immediate classic, and was so popular that it was developed into The Waltons, a series that ran for nine seasons.