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
Andy Taylor on the Andy Griffith Show is one such
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
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
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.
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.
- - - - - -
Andy Griffith played the father to Opie,
played by Ron Howard, who went on
to be a movie director.