The Andy Griffith Show And Me

I am not able to give you the why for this particular binge on Prime Video. Actually, I do very little binging of any programs though “Grace and Frankie” on Netflix has been the one exception. Anyway, I watch the 8 seasons of the Andy Griffith Show over and over though I have have more of a preference for the black and white seasons than the last two seasons in color.

I do not know why I’m stuck on the show. I do not watch it during the day, only when I’m ready to go to sleep. In fact, I’m probably sleep before an episode is halfway done. The series cycles as I sleep and should I wake up during the night, I tap on the next episode only to fall asleep immediately.

I do wonder why I’m stuck in this Andy Griffith loop. There are so many reasons why I should not be a fan. First of all, it’s set in a small town in the South during the 60s, not a great time or space for African Americans. Secondly, there is no true representation of African Americans in small town Mayberry though I think I have caught glimpses of one or two in a crowd or perhaps one walking down a street. Actually, this is probably a true representation as Mayberry only has a population of 2,000, majority white, I’m sure. The businesses and companies would be owned by them, of course, and the black population would be peripheral to any of their stories. Thirdly, Andy Taylor is a sheriff and southern law enforcement history with African Americans is not pretty for that time period.

There is one episode in color (there’s an irony here) that features an African American man but that man has to have the credentials of being a retired pro football player who also happens to be a pianist who plays classical music beautifully, an object lesson for Andy (maybe a challenge to the view most whites had of African Americans back then). They could not bring in any old person to represent the black community, only the exception would do. This individual would have to be the exception to the perceived rule in order to have the right to be on screen with the white folks up close and personal. A kind of “that boy is a credit to his race, ain’t he!” moment for the white viewer.

But, that’s not the only issue I have with Andy and his crew. What is up with Barney Fife? This man is so full of himself, it’s embarrassing to everyone, yet everyone rushes to make sure he’s not embarrassed, that his feelings are not hurt. In doing so, Barney Fife can continue to live in his fantasy world of bluff wrapped in bravado as he struts the stuff he thinks he has. Andy does call him out from time to time but almost always circles back to apologize for nothing. I often just wish someone would lower the boom on him, that he would summon up the guts to apologize for the snafu he has caused instead of him always being the hero. I’m pretty sure a narcissist wrote the script for Barney.

Finally, the chauvinism is blatant. The women are referred to as girls, almost always. The men leer at pretty women and make sly remarks. Andy and Barney have long time girlfriends but marriage is anathema to them. Thelma Lou and Helen know this to be so and are quietly resigned to their plight. Barney is a two-timer (with Juanita at the diner) and everyone seems to know it except Thelma Lou. This would never be so in a town that small. Sooner or later, she would discover his infidelity. Maybe she does know but Barney is so clever at gaslighting that she refuses to believe the rumors. Also, the women are petty, excellent at jumping to conclusions. They withhold their favor (slight sexual innuendo, here), the pleasure of their company until they get their way. The men quickly give in to the pettiness because they don’t want the women to be upset with them and withhold their favor. Yep, men wrote their scripts too.

I have not pointed out any specific episodes because any episode will fill the bill with why I should not be binging this show, but binge I do. There is no reason I should long for those black and white moments, especially in the light of what I know about the timeline of the African American in the South. Plus, the view of women through the lens of the writers should shut me down, as well and I have run into a few Barney Fifes in my lifetime.

Yeah, there is no real reason for me to continue to watch The Andy Griffith Show.

I wonder what a therapist would make of of this!


I am not much of a television watcher but when I do watch TV, I choose programs that do not require me to think too much or have to follow a plot line, figure out “whodunit” or enter into someone’s contrived reality. I like resolution at the end of a program which is probably why I like home make-overs and food shows.

When I climb into bed, I log into programs on my iPhone that don’t require me to think. I connect, turn the volume down, and before the program is even five minutes in, I am asleep. When I awake during the night, my phone is asleep, too, because the episodes stop at a certain number, waiting for me to tap “continue.” I, instead, go back to sleep, the program having accomplished its mission assignment.

Lately, I have found some favorites, episodes of individuals cruising British canals in their narrowboats … and the Andy Griffith Show. Yeah, no hard thinking here.

You did hear me correctly, the Andy Griffith Show. I unapologetically watch those old black and white episodes of the Andy Griffith Show. I’m not so enamored of the episodes in color because some of the nostalgia of the time is lost for me, but I will also watch them from time to time.

I do, however, have an issue with the show and it’s probably not what you would think.

I am well aware that if any black people or people of color lived in Mayberry, they had no ties to Andy or Barney or Aunt Bee or Helen or Thelma Lou or Floyd or Goober or any of the other residents of that small fictitious North Carolina town. There weren’t any visible black kids or children of color in any of Opie’s classes. If they lived in the area, they probably had their own stories of joy and sorrow on the other side of the tracks.

I do recall one episode where a Native American was integral to the plot and in one of the colored episodes (no pun intended), there was a former professional football player who came on the scene to coach Opie’s football team. Yes, I know, he was made more palatable to the viewers because of his history and what he brought to the community, his athletic prowess.

Yeah, I do not watch the show to see people who look like me. There are no main characters who look like me; heck there are no characters who look like me though I think I once spied a black man walking down the sidewalk as two of the characters had a conversation.

No, the absence of black people or people of color does not bother me; it is a sign of the times. It is, rather, the comfort and simplicity of the episodic story lines that remind me of a time when life seemed simpler maybe because I viewed it through the lens of a child under her mother’s care in a small town.

What irks me about the show is how Barney Fife, Andy’s know-it-all deputy, is allowed to continue in his delusions of grandeur and no one checks him or calls him out. Episode after episode his ego (dare I say narcissism) leads him into ridiculous situations from which he has to be rescued.

He makes an ignorant assessment of a situation and off he goes on a Barney tangent and Andy has to bail him out. He makes a dumb decision that turns into a victory, again because of Andy, and he is allowed to take credit for that victory. In his attempt to appear knowledgeable, his ignorance is on full display and no one says a thing. In one episode when a prestigious club invites Andy to a meeting of the good old guys, Andy brings Barney along with him. Barney, in full Barney mode, keeps his foot in his mouth throughout the evening. When the invitation is extended to Andy but not to Barney, when Barney is informed by Andy that only of of them was chosen, Barney immediately rants about how could they not accept Andy as a member. Pure Barney perspective that it’s always about him. Though it is apparent that he does, from time to time, recognize his shortcomings in some episodes, he refuses to be less than the blowhard he really and truly is. His insecurity is cloaked in a braggadocios flow that everyone allows to run unchecked even when they are trapped in its undertow.

Yes, that Barney character gets on my nerves. But, wait, what about the Barneys in our lives today? Do we have the courage to redirect their thinking, to challenge their choices and to love them back to reality? Do we allow them to continue in their delusions of grandeur without calling them to accountability for their own actions? Andy and all the others did not want to hurt Barney’s feelings so they covered for him, rescued him, time after time, from his own foolishness. I wonder, if this were real life, how this impacted Barney’s progress in life, especially when he found himself surrounded by those who left him to his own devices, stood on the sidelines and laughed at him and his shenanigans.

Here is the irony of one of Barney’s pet sayings, “Nip it, Nip it in the Bud.” No one ever took the steps to nip Barney’s antics in the bud!

I wonder whose lack of growth are we enabling in friends and family when we do not call them back to reality or allow them to learn the lessons that are rooted in failure? Who do we need to tell, “Nip it, nip it in the bud!”

When I have my Barney moments, will I accept the counsel and wisdom of a friend?

I’m just wondering.

Mayberry, Oh Mayberry

I’m not sure why, but for the last few months I’ve been on an “Andy Griffith Show” binge.

Yes, you heard me right, an “Andy Griffith Show” binge.

I’ve gone through all eight seasons, from black and white to color though my preference are those black and white episodes.

Speaking of color, yes, I am well aware that there are no people of color who visibly live in Mayberry. Now mind you, I have sighted a few representatives here and there (a nod to the changing times, I suspect) but no major roles for any people of color except one color episode as the show neared the end of its run.

Still, noting this lack of color in the black and white episodes did not derail my binge (my people from the South will get the irony here).

As I stated above, I’m not sure why I’m on this binge, what triggered this hunger to be a vicarious part of Mayberry, North Carolina (or is it South Carolina).

I suspect my binge watching may have something to do with the years that keep stalking me, the numbers that are adding up fast and the birthdays that feel like a runaway train headed downhill.

I want lazy Sunday afternoons spent on the front porch in a rocking chair and me chock full of a traditional dinner of roast and mashed potatoes that I’ve washed down with an ice cold goblet of sweet tea.

I want cicadas to sing me to sleep every night.

I want to take a Saturday trip to town and run into familiar faces on Main Street, stop to share pleasantries before we each scurry off to the next errand that demands immediate attention.

I want to sit on wooden pews in a clapboard covered church to watch the robe clad choir march in and nod off as the minister drones on because the summer heat has prompted me to take a quick nap.

I want houses nestled on broad, quiet streets and neighbors to chat over the fence with one another as they pot flowers or weed gardens.

I want winter holidays so cold that my ears tingle and my nose needs a warmer.

I want to shake my head at the self-absorbed antics of a Barney Fife, snicker at the serious quirkiness of a Floyd the barber, have a goober aptly named Goober pump my gas from an old school gas pump, wonder about Opie’s unique name and speculate with Clara Edwards and Aunt Bea as to why Helen Crump and Andy Taylor are still engaged after eight years of courting (and hand holding?).

I want the nostalgia of Mayberry with just a little more color in the mix.

I want the wisdom of a small town sheriff who is content with his place and purpose in a hometown he did not leave until years later (and apparently finally married Helen) only to return because he knew what I now understand, “Home [really] is where the heart is.”

Though my home, these days, is far removed from the small town in which I was raised, my heart still lives in the memories of my yesterday community.

Yeah, I want Mayberry living these days. I just want it thirty minutes away from the bright lights of a big city (to appease my “black-ish” moments).

Mayberry was created In someone’s mind; my hometown was home grown!

Oh, by the way, Frances Bavier (Aunt Bea) in real life did not like Andy Griffith (Andy Taylor) at all!

I guess Mayberry wasn’t so “pure” after all.