Television shows have long used music to set the tone and enhance the storytelling of a series. The banjo, with its distinctive sound and association with Southern and folk music, has been a popular instrument in many TV shows over the years. In this list, we will explore ten TV shows that feature the banjo and the impact it has had on their soundtracks.
10 TV Shows that Feature the Banjo
- “The Beverly Hillbillies” (1962-1971) – This classic sitcom prominently features the banjo in its theme song, which is a bluegrass version of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett”. The banjo adds a playful and folksy element to the show’s opening credits.
- “Hee Haw” (1969-1992) – This variety show featuring country music and comedy skits frequently showcased banjo players, including Roy Clark and Buck Trent. The banjo was an essential component of the show’s signature sound.
- “The Muppet Show” (1976-1981) – This beloved puppet-based variety show often featured musical numbers with the banjo, most notably in performances by guest stars like Steve Martin and Roger Miller.
- “The Dukes of Hazzard” (1979-1985) – This action-packed series about two cousins fighting corrupt officials in the Southern United States features a country-rock soundtrack that often includes the banjo, adding to the show’s Southern flavor.
- “Northern Exposure” (1990-1995) – The opening credits of this quirky dramedy set in Alaska feature a folksy tune with banjo accompaniment, setting the tone for the show’s offbeat and whimsical tone.
- “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968) – Although the banjo is not a prominent feature of this beloved sitcom’s score, it is occasionally heard in the background music, adding to the show’s Southern charm.
- “Parks and Recreation” (2009-2015) – In the episode “Leslie and Ron,” a banjo performance by the character Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman) is a key plot point, showcasing his unexpected musical talents.
- “Transparent” (2014-2019) – In this critically acclaimed drama about a family grappling with issues of identity and sexuality, the character Ali (played by Gaby Hoffmann) frequently plays the banjo, emphasizing her free-spirited and unconventional nature.
- “Twin Peaks” (1990-1991) – The haunting and dreamlike score of this cult classic mystery series often features the banjo, adding to the show’s surreal and eerie atmosphere.
- “Fargo” (2014- ) – The theme song of this darkly comedic crime drama features the banjo, setting the tone for the show’s quirky and unpredictable storytelling.
From classic shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Hee Haw” to more recent series like “Parks and Recreation” and “Fargo,” the use of the banjo has helped to establish the tone and setting of each show. Whether it is to add a playful and folksy element or to create a haunting and dreamlike atmosphere, the banjo has proven to be a versatile instrument in the world of television. As TV continues to evolve and experiment with new forms of storytelling, it will be exciting to see how the banjo and other instruments will be used in the future.