Saturday, October 3, 2009
Make mine Mayberry
There are people who look at me goofy when I make mention of the Andy Griffith Show. Don't they get it?
Don't they understand the cultural significance of the program? Don't they get the goofy humor, the revealing life lessons and the quaint depiciton of simple American life that made the show one of the most popular and successful in TV history?
Here's something fun to do when company's over: Turn on the TV and keep flipping stations until you find an episode of Andy (and you can almost always find one). Then just start watching. You'll find out immediately if your guests are with you, or again' you. And that's good information to have.
The Andy Griffith Show debuted on this day in 1960 and eight years later, in its final season, it ranked No. 1 among TV viewers. And I'll bet you a slice of Aunt Bea's blueberry pie that it's still one of the most popular shows in syndication.
In a 2004 issue of the Journal of Popular Culture, writer Don Rodney Vaughn attempted to explain why The Andy Griffith Show was so popular -- and why it is significant in cultural studies. He wrote:
Mayberry is like the eye of the hurricane, a place of tranquility in a world of anything but that. Mayberry's problems and stressors were anything but the problems and stressors that most faced in the 1960s: unemployment, overcoming obstacles to voter registration, the quest for civil rights as Americans, sons fighting in a no-cause war, the uneasiness over the risk of nuclear war--the list could go on. Had the writers reflected the happenings in the real world, the show would have likely bottomed out in the ratings. Instead, it offered an avenue of escape from life's vicissitudes by depicting the simple life with small, solvable problems.
Can you find a show like that on TV today? Only in syndication.
If my DVD player was hooked up this morning I'd sit down and watch the first episode -- with a bowl of Post Grape-Nuts, of course. (Say, do they still make Crispy Critters?) Maybe I'd even watch the entire first season.
Or maybe I'll just whistle "The Fishin' Hole'' intro song until the next episode airs.