Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Did you know that there used to be a sitcom that was based around life in Southampton? If you were to watch an episode of The Pruitts of Southampton, you might find it hard to believe that it is supposed to be based in Southampton. The biggest clue being that it was actually filmed in North Carolina, not in Southampton.
The show starred Phyllis Diller as Phyllis Pruitt, a supposedly super wealthy widow from Southampton. When an audit from the IRS reveals that the Pruitts are actually in mountains of debt to the government, a deal is made where she can continue to live in her home and try to keep up her wealthy appearances but she would need to fire all of her staff and do many household chores herself. In the story of the show if the Pruitts were to publicly be shown as being broke it was feared that it would cause an economic depression which doesn't exactly make a lot of sense. But this and some other reasons may be why this show was listed as number 20 in TV Guide's 2002 list of the 50 worst TV Shows of all time. Every episode revolves around new hairbrained ideas Phyllis has to make money to pay off her debt to the IRS. Diller once said that the show felt like an inverted version of the Beverly Hillbillies.
The goal of the show was to turn Phyllis Diller into the next Lucille Ball by giving her this show but unfortunately that did not exactly work out. The show premiered on September 6, 1966 and lasted for two seasons before being cancelled after its last episode aired on April 7, 1967. The show suffered from poor ratings throughout and in an attempt to help the show in the second season new characters played by beloved actors like John Astin (Gomez Addams from the Addams Family) were added to the show. They even changed the name of the show to the Phyllis Diller Show hoping that the show could capitalize on the star's name.
It is a bit hard to find full episodes of this show to watch now a little digging on YouTube can find you some parts from the show to watch. It could be that I was born 26 years after the show first aired so I am just not the right audience, but anyone older who I talked to that remembered this show either barely had any recollection of it or vivid memories of it being bad. But don't take my word for it, below I have included a few YouTube videos for you to enjoy.
1966 The Pruitts of Southampton Promotional Video
Theme song for The Pruitts of Southampton sung by Phyllis Diller
Episode 27 - My Sister-in-Law Phyllis from March 17, 1967