Andy Griffith accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Andy Griffith receives the Presidential Medal of
Freedom in 2005. Image via Wikimedia Commons.


 

Andy Griffith and Comedy's Healers

by Ken Sanes

A common character in sitcoms are the healers and repairers of the social fabric. They are doers of good deeds who take other people's suffering and make those people well, again. They also help hold society together.

Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show is one such character.

Andy masquerades as a country bumpkin sheriff but we all know he's a young version of an old wise man who cures human suffering with love.

That's what the Andy Griffith Show is about -- love -- and being at home, whether it is being at home with yourself, like Andy, or creating a home for your two young men, like the wonderful Aunt Bee.

Someone who isn't at home -- in himself - and doesn't really have his own home -- is Barney Fife, a pretentious, lovable, fool who Andy helps by covering up his inadequacies and inventing successes for him. Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts) is the lovable fool Andy is always helping.

In one episode, Andy encounters someone else who's not at home -- a harried, hurried, businessman who is stuck in Mayberry with a car problem. He's in a rush to leave because he has  forgotten the simple pleasures of sitting on the porch, playing a guitar and eating ice cream, with nowhere to go and nothing much on your mind.

But Andy teaches him -- you're only stuck when you don't feel at home in yourself.

Watching the show, we can identify with Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor and thus experience what it's like to be a healer and a good parent to the world.

And we get to experience what it's like to have a healer and good parent create a secure and loving holding environment for us like Andy does for his son Opie and everyone else.

We also get to sadistically laugh at Barney's foolishness, while taking pleasure in altruistically protecting his feelings, because we like him so much and we know that, like everyone in Mayberry, he's got a good heart.

The program gave Andy Griffith an opportunity to play a Frank Capra kind of role he was well suited to, of the good soul who goes about repairing the world. And by depicting all these characters, the Andy Griffith Show vicariously places us in a benevolent society in which human foibles are forgivable and love creates a place where even foolishness can feel at home.

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Andy Griffith played the father to Opie, played by Ron Howard. Here we see Howard as an adult.

Andy Griffith played the father to Opie,
played by Ron Howard, who went on
to be a movie director.

You can also go to another page on Andy Griffith.
or to More on Situation Comedies
or An Essay on Sitcoms

1996-2012 Ken Sanes