The Andy Griffith show was one of America’s best loved sitcoms, it can hardly be described as anything other than a classic.
For those who may not know, The Andy Griffith show ran from 1960-1968, featuring Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Don Knotts as his deputy Barney Fife, Ron Howard as Opie Taylor, Andy’s son, and Francis Bavier as Andy’s Aunt Bee. The show centered around the town of Mayberry and the actions of the Sheriff department and Taylor family.
There are many memorable episodes and quotes, from Barney’s New Car to The Pickle Story. It touched our lives with it’s simplicity of spirit and wholesome plots.
The shows peak time was seasons 1-5, while Don Knotts was a part of the cast. After that the format changed slightly and was shot in color, though still good it lacked the humor and delight of the first five seasons.
Andy Taylor is a form of the everyman, he raises his son with the help of his Aunt, his absent wife never mentioned (likely dead). As Sheriff he feels it is his duty to not only protect the people of Mayberry, but also to give advice and be a good neighbor.
He doesn’t shy away from force, but doesn’t always use it as the first option.
When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s gettin’ might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they would respect me.
– Andy Taylor (TV or Not TV 5.23)
We all have a friend like Barney. If you don’t, you are probably Barney! He can’t sing to save his life, has a tremendous pride in his own abilities, and follows the letter of the law.
Though the butt of many jokes Barney is sincerely devoted to his job and protecting the people of Mayberry. His is an honest friend who stays by Andy’s side not matter the difficulty, and admits upon occasion his faults.
Mayberry was actually based on Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy North Carolina, and in many ways it represents the best of small towns in America. With all the quirks and oddities that may be present, you also see the families, the friendship and the kindness also present.
The local community is the next network after the family in the fabric of society, and Mayberry is exactly that. Whether you’re a Sheriff or local farmer it’s those relationships that matter most, you can’t simply look at everyone with the cold, unflinching eyes of reason, but with the tempering effect of sentiment.
In my case I am pleased with the amount of farmers seen in the series, from Rafe Holster the occasional moonshiner, to “Big” Jeff Pruit in his search for a wife, along with various others like the Darlings. Each has their various idiosyncrasies, and all have good friendships with the people of the town.
For me this show is more than simply a slice of America, it is a legacy from my father. As with many things in life, I enjoy this series more than anything else because in my childhood I would watch it with my parents and family.
The Andy Griffith Show may not always be the most popular, but I challenge anyone to find a show that is more American in it’s characters, influence, and heart.