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Exactly What It Says on the Tin. But fret not, ye honest poor - thanks to the rules of your universe, all your problems can be solved without the use of complex reasoning skills or book-learnin' anyway! You can get by just fine on your folk wisdom and life-loving affirmations. And if anyone criticizes you, well, clearly they're either evil or too rich to know how to loosen up. Don't worry, a few weeks around you and your wacky 'ethnic' family will give them a little pep!
This is prime-time's go-to plot device whenever embarrassing relatives come to visit the Girl Who Married Up or the blue-collar schlub wins the lottery. Basically, in TV Land, it is impossible to be both poor and intelligent unless you're the show's Insufferable Genius or precocious child. Indeed, one would almost be tempted to believe that There Are No Libraries.
Especially Egregious in episodes involving court cases, where heartfelt pleas seem to sway judges faster than a bisexual on a swingset.
Contrast Lower Class Lout, the malevolent version of this trope.
- While it may have just been a matter of Unfortunate Implications, there are only five characters in the movie, The House of Yes. Four of them are members of an elitist, wealthy, well-educated family. The fifth is a ditzy girl who is trying to marry the main character and also happens to be middle class and uneducated. Despite this contrast, she is the most sympathetic and sane person in the film.
- Everyone in Amarcord.
Part of the reason I chose to write this novel is because I am more than a little sick and tired of two characteristics of most modern fiction, including science fiction. The first is that the common folk who built this country and keep it running blue-collar workers, schoolteachers, farmers, and the like hardly ever appear. If they figure at all, it is usually as spear carriers or, more often than not, as a bastion of ignorance and bigotry. That is especially true of people from such rural areas as West Virginia. Hicks and hillbillies: a general, undifferentiated mass of darkness.
- 1984 has Winston, newly emboldened by the idea of the resistance, stop in at a pub occupied by "proles"... only to see that they're taken by the (fairly substandard) Bread and Circuses provided by the Party, and unlikely to lay the groundwork of any revolution. Then again, neither is he...
- To be fair, though, the Party refuses to educate them well and deliberately keeps them ignorant so they will be easier to manipulate and less likely to engage in the kind of revolution Winston is hoping for.
- Animal Farm, by the same author, features Boxer, a horse meant to represent the working class. He is shown to not grasp reading and writing, and remain completely loyal to the farm's new management, which makes Napoleon's disgraceful treatment of him all the more sickening.
- The Lord Peter Wimsey stories are full of this trope.
- Stan Shunpike in Harry Potter is not the brightest of wizards and has a distinctly working-class accent. Possibly averted with the Weasleys (in particular Percy and the twins), though they're arguable Impoverished Patricians due to their Pureblood status - though if they do count as working class, Ron is the dumbest of the main Trio.
- Ron is still shown as intelligent in his own right. He just tends to be overshadowed a bit.
- Hermione is the smartest of the group, and she's the daughter of two dentists. We also see that when Harry's parents were teenagers, Lily (from a middle-class family) was intelligent, kind, and friendly while James (very wealthy) was not a bad person entirely, but tended to be "an arrogant toerag".
- In Twilight, the filthy rich Cullens are treated as the epitome of class and intelligence, while almost all of the rest of Forks (working-class people) are portrayed as gossipy (Jessica and her mother), impractical (Mike's mother), overly superstitious (nearly every Quileute), stupid (most of the other students at Forks), or in awe of the endless wealth of the Cullens. Bella is working class and supposedly very intelligent, but spends the entire series identifying with Edward and his family.
Live Action Television
- The Beverly Hillbillies
- All in The Family
- Keeping Up Appearances appears to follow this, but Onslow can be seen reading doctoral-level texts and can be quite the philosopher. He's just incredibly lazy and a slob.
- The Show Within a Show When the Whistle Blows on Extras
- Played straight (sort of) on Glee when Kurt assumes his plain-talkin', football watchin' father will go ballistic if he finds out his son is gay. Subverted when Kurt comes out and his father is supportive (if not exactly thrilled).
- The original version of Survivors tended to display this trope.
- Doin' What Comes Naturally
- John Lennon's Working Class Hero, which suffered from a huge Misaimed Fandom.
- Eliza's father in Pygmalion is a send-up of this trope. In actual fact, he's rather intelligent, with his ingenious methods of staying away from work.
- William Shakespeare typically portrays commoners as simpletons. They often spout malapropisms and speak in prose, as opposed to the more erudite verse of the upper class. This is usually Played for Laughs, perhaps most famously in A Midsummer Night's Dream, where some common tradesmen put on a pathetic excuse for a play while the upperclass spectators MST it.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob— Bob runs a newsstand, and is generally the most poorly educated member of the central cast (he's dating a college teacher, his adopted daughter is a genius, and Voluptua is a 300-year old member of space royalty), but he consistently displays more common sense than those around him. Played with when Jean expresses surprise that he went to college. Bob: "I majored in newsstand management! No way I could have kept it running through all this if I didn't have a degree in it!"
- Parodied on The Simpsons (of course): When the perfectly sane and bright (if a bit stodgy) Frank Grimes tries to get along in Springfield, he goes tragically - fatally - insane, because the world is designed to accommodate apathetic idiots like Homer.
- The Flintstones
- Subverted for laughs in a Robot Chicken sketch that placed He Man and The Masters of The Universe's Teela and Evil-Lyn in a farm for a reality show called "Country Folk R Morons" (a play on The Simple Life, starring the RC sketch's main target or inspiriation Paris Hilton). A farmer tries to explain to them theoretical quantum chrono dynamics.
Teela: "You're f[bleep]ing stupid!"
- Subverted in Jackie Chan Adventures. Two farmhands look exactly like stereotypical hicks, but it turns out they both have PhDs. And they take remarkably well to the concept of a magical flying chicken and a pig with Laser Eyes.
- Subverted for laughs by the Reality TV show The Simple Life. Their country hosts were more or less average, but every time Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie opened their mouths they made everyone around them look like geniuses by comparison. Detractors will say that Hilton and Richie are morons by any standard.