You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Andy Griffith Show’: Moral but not preachy

Fifty years later, analysts point to laffer's nuance

For devoted fans of “The Andy Griffith Show,” the program’s 249 episodes translate to 249 lessons learned.

The series, which ran from 1960-68 and spanned B&W and color, centers on smalltown sheriff-widower Andy Taylor, raising firecracker son Opie and overseeing bumbling deputy Barney Fife. It’s a formula you’re likely familiar with (as well as that haunting whistley theme song), but “The Andy Griffith Show” spun deeper truths out of this simplicity.

“Other shows would go for a quick laugh, but (‘The Andy Griffith Show’) did stories that meant something,” says Joey Fann, author of “The Way Back to Mayberry: Lessons From a Simpler Time.” “Each episode had a moral or lesson, and it didn’t come across as preachy.”

That last point is most important. Sure, the show had an obvious moral center: Jokes were good-natured ribbing, and there was palpable love between all of Mayberry’s residents.

But audiences became invested in “The Andy Griffith Show” because of its nuance. A modern-day parallel is “Modern Family.” The ABC sitcom also shows nontraditional families (Griffith, after all, was a widower) and milks specific comedy from relationships and unsnarky, unabashed caring for one another.

“?The Andy Griffith Show” was “a comedy, and the humor came out of the characters,” says Neal Brower, a North Carolina minister and “Andy Griffith Show” expert. “It lent itself to stories that would teach a lesson.”

In season three’s “Man in a Hurry,” a type-A suit has car trouble in easygoing Mayberry. The town could have fixed the jalopy with a smile and sent the man on his way; instead, they conspire to keep the man around and demonstrate the value of slowing down, appreciating the small things in life.

The show’s gentle moral nudging was often open to interpretation — so much so that it has inspired analysis to this day. Fann teaches a course that parallels 12 classic episodes with corresponding Bible verses. Brower occasionally lectures on “Andy Griffith” and has penned “Mayberry 101.”

It should be noted that though Griffith studied to be a preacher and scenes sometimes take place coming out of church, the show isn’t overtly Christian. It’s simpler than that.

“Andy used to say that when you start with love, the show can be nothing but a feeling — that’s your foundation,” Brower says.

And thanks to “The Andy Griffith Show,” we now have 249 interpretations of that basic truth.

Related Links
TV’s conscience

More TV

  • American Son review

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases 'American Son' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix released the trailer for “American Son” starring Kerry Washington and first looks at Dolly Parton’s new anthology series, “Heartstrings.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for “American Son,” which premieres Nov. 1 on the streaming service. Directed by Tony award-winner Kenny Leon, the film is based on the [...]

  • BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to

    BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to Be Produced by Management Firm's New Shingle, ModestTV

    The BBC has confirmed its Little Mix talent show, which the pop band’s management firm, Modest!, will produce through a new banner, ModestTV. “Little Mix The Search” will be exec produced by Andrea Hamilton, who has partnered with the management outfit to launch the new operation. Her entertainment show credits include “The Voice” and “Strictly [...]

  • Monica Beletsky Apple TV Plus

    Apple Sets Overall Deal With Monica Beletsky

    Monica Beletsky is the latest of a small group of content creators to set an overall deal with Apple and their streaming platform, Apple TV Plus. Under the multi-year deal, Beletsky will develop and produce television series exclusively for the streamer. This is the first overall of Beletsky’s career. Her previous credits include “Fargo,” “Friday [...]

  • Saladin Patterson

    Saladin Patterson Inks Overall Deal at 20th Century Fox Television

    Saladin Patterson has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the multi-year deal, Patterson will develop, write and produce comedy series for network, cable and streaming platforms. He was previously under a development deal at the studio earlier in his career. Patterson is currently an executive producer on the upcoming FX series [...]

  • Lenny Abrahamson and 'The Favourite' Producer

    'Room' Director Lenny Abrahamson and 'The Favourite' Producer Ed Guiney Present Their BBC-Hulu Series 'Normal People' (EXCLUSIVE)

    At TV market Mipcom in Cannes this week the team behind BBC-Hulu series “Normal People” – led by Lenny Abrahamson, the Oscar nominated director of “Room” – presented the first footage from the show, and explained how they approached the adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel. Variety had exclusive access to the presentation. Ed Guiney, one [...]

  • El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

    ‘El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie’ Scores 6.5 Million Viewers Across First Weekend

    “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which dropped on Netflix Oct. 11, drew around 6.5 million total viewers in its first three days on the streaming platform, according to Nielsen. The movie also reached just under 8.2 million unique TV viewers. “El Camino” unsurprisingly drew its biggest audience of the three days on day 1, [...]

  • Natalie Morales, Photo by Catie Laffoon

    'Dead to Me' Season 2 Casts Natalie Morales (EXCLUSIVE)

    Natalie Morales has been cast in “Dead to Me” Season 2 at Netflix, Variety has learned exclusively. Morales will appear in the recurring role of Michelle. Described as wry and down to earth, Michelle has a relaxed charm and infectious wit. She forms a connection with Judy (Linda Cardellini) at the Assisted Living Facility, where Michelle’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content