The Endearing Appeal of The Andy Griffith Show
The Andy Griffith Show is one of the most fondly-remembered of 1960s sitcoms, running for eight seasons from 1960 to 1968 and ending only because its star opted to end the show to move on to other projects. The cast of The Andy Griffith Show created some of the best loved characters on American television, most notably Jim Nabors’s Gomer Pyle, who became the star of his own show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., and Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife, who won five Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy awards for his work on the series. A 2002 poll conducted by TV Guide ranked the series at number eight on its list of the 50 Greatest Series of All Time.
The show was set in the fictional rural community of Mayberry, North Carolina, and revolved around the widower Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith) and his young son Opie (Ron Howard). Other members of the cast of The Andy Griffith show included Frances Beaver who played Aunt Bee, a spinster aunt who served as the Taylors’ housekeeper, Betty Lynn as Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s sweetheart and Aneta Corsaut as schoolteacher Helen Crump, Andy’s love interest. Collectively, the cast succeeded in creating a memorable portrayal of small-town life that endeared the show to millions of American viewers.
The Andy Griffith Show remained popular throughout its entire run, consistently landing in the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings and even rating number one during its final season. It also spawned two spin-off series, Gomer Pyle and Mayberry, R.F.D., a sequel series featuring the supporting characters from its parent show. However, by the late 1960s, these shows began to seem increasingly irrelevant in the wake of the contemporary issues then dividing America, such as the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, and they were summarily canceled even though they were still drawing respectable audiences, to be replaced by more relevant shows such as M*A*S*H and All in the Family. However, The Andy Griffith Show remains an endearing favorite, and millions of Americans still watch it in syndicated reruns.