An Ode to Jorts
Alana Hope Levinson

Whether or not we needed to explain Dukes of Hazzard was a matter of some debate before the publication of this story. I am 37, and grew up watching it, but not loving it; I maintained it needed no explanation. Alana, who is some younger age I am too polite to inquire about specifically, has never actually seen the show — just gets it as a nebulous cultural reference. She worried it might be offensive to refer to it as a “show about rednecks.”

Dukes of Hazzard was broadcast from 1979–1985. It was a CBS show, though I only ever saw it in daytime syndication. Bo and Luke Duke were semi-reformed and basically law-abiding bootleggers with feathered Farrah Fawcett hair; their Uncle Jesse was an old Georgia moonshiner who wore overalls and never drank; their cousin, Daisy, was at the time the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, not counting Debra Winger in everything (I’m not going to explain who Debra Winger is), or Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins. The theme song, “The Good Ol’ Boys,” was written and performed by Waylon Jennings (I’m also not going to explain who Waylon Jennings is).

The Duke boys constantly ran afoul of Boss Hogg, who was the corrupt county commissioner and in his white suit looked like Tom Wolfe with a gland disorder. He had many inept and crooked deputies at his disposal. (Someone had a beagle, but I’m not going to look up who.)

The Duke boys’ only weapons were their compound bows and dynamite-tipped arrows, with which they blew up a lot of empty warehouses. They drove an orange Dodge Charger, with which they were constantly required to jump over the county’s many rivers. The Charger — nicknamed the General Lee — had a hand-painted Confederate flag on its roof. I probably haven’t given enough to how this relates to the contemporaneous rise of Ronald Reagan (I’m definitely not going to explain who Ronald Reagan is).

It was sort of like Justified, except ridiculous and without wit. In 2005, it was remade as a movie starring Sean William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, and Jessica Simpson; I can’t remember if I ever saw it.