Mayberry lives through reruns

Posted: Monday, October 04, 2010

The best television show ever made, I believe, was The Andy Griffith Show. It managed to touch on every aspect of life, whether we thought about it at the time or not.

Thank goodness for endless reruns, so we all can appreciate its genius beyond mere entertainment.

Consider these key parts of the 1960s show about the residents of tiny Mayberry:

• Child-rearing (what they call "parenting" today, so as to show who does all the work): A father and his son made up a main part of the program's appeal. The love didn't have to be spoken.

• Single-parent families: Back when just about every other show featured complete families, Andy Griffith lacked the wife/mother, and her absence was rarely mentioned.

• Feminism: Women were always bucking the status quo by doing such "manly" things as running for office or operating businesses or shooting guns. Even Aunt Bee, who was practically a household drudge, had her moments to shine outside the home.

• Misuse of government power: Andy and his deputy, Barney Fife, were always taking the town's single patrol car on dates and to picnics and other family outings. Mothers kept their babies in the jail cell while they shopped. Inmates were let out long enough to get their crops in. The recent scandal in a little California town where officials paid themselves many hundreds of thousands of dollars a year almost pales by comparison.

• Dating: Because Andy was a widower and Barney was single, their social lives were a big part of the show. Best forgotten is that Barney, while dating his steady girl, Thelma Lou, could be heard flirting on the phone with a waitress named Juanita. It seems that Mayberry wasn't so black and white, after all.

• Substance abuse: The town drunk, Otis Campbell, was a steady resident at the jail so he could sleep off a night of partying. No matter what treatment was dreamed up by Barney, Otis kept coming back to his second home. Likewise, moonshining was a repeated theme for the long-running program.

• Diversity: Well, sort of. There were always Northerners showing up in town and being shown the errors of their ways.

Yes, Mayberry was another place and another time, but it still seems so familiar today.

• Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.



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