"Finding the Way Back to Mayberry"

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The Andy Griffith Show is a unique television series in that it never goes out of style.  Some viewers even suggest that the show is more popular today than during its original eight-year run.   A glance at the membership of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC) would seem to support this opinion.  Looking back, there were several notable series from that classic TV era so the question becomes, what makes The Andy Griffith Show special? And furthermore, why is it remembered above the others?

I’ve often heard people say, "I wish we could go back to Mayberry; back to a simpler time when life was far less complicated". However, even a cursory glance at the decade of the original series run reveals anything but a simple lifestyle. The threat of nuclear annihilation, civil unrest, and political assassinations were just a few realities of the turbulent sixties.  But it was during this time that The Andy Griffith Show enjoyed its primetime success. Do people really want to return to the events of the 1960s, or is there something about the attitude of this television show that provides the appeal?

Reflecting on the series, the characters are what people most remember. The names Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, and Gomer Pyle instantly produce memories of a particular show or situation. Most often the comedic interaction between the characters comes to mind, but other impressions surface as well. We remember Andy for his selfless attitude and ability to find good in any situation. Barney had the best of intentions, but his methods always seemed to backfire. And Gomer may have seemed a bit naïve ("nave" as Barney would say), but his compassion toward others was undoubtedly genuine.

Upon further consideration, it would seem that the quest to return to Mayberry is more about a mindset than a physical society. And this realization may help to explain how a simple thirty-minute sitcom can provide such comfort in a world full of uncertainty. Recent events have been a vivid reminder of mans inhumanity toward each other. In contrast, The Andy Griffith Show continues to provide a wonderful lesson of  humanity.


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