Alcohol and Old Lace

It was only a matter of time before we got around to exploring Mayberry’s seedy underground.  The story begins when Barney interrupts Andy and Floyd’s post-haircut ritual to tell Andy he’s hot on the trail of an illegal still.  When the two lawmen are on the way to bust up the operation they are stopped by a pair of elderly women.  The Morrison sisters, Jennifer and Clarabelle, tell them that Barney is mistaken and point them in the direction of a still they know to exist.  Andy and Barney successfully arrest the moonshiner and destroy his still.  When they visit the Morrison sisters to thank them for their help the ladies have another tip for them.

With two moonshiners in custody and both of their stills broken Andy and Barney think they’ve eradicated intoxicants from the region until Otis stumbles in.  Realizing they have more work to do they get down to business.  Otis proves his mettle and refuses to snitch so they’re on their own.  They spread out a map and try to figure out the most probable location of the third still.  Fortunately, they get another tip from an unlikely source.  Opie comes in after picking flowers in the Morrison sisters’ garden to give to his teacher.  He claims the Morrison’s have the best flowers and attributes their horticultural success to a “flower machine.”

It turns out that the charming old biddies have been running their own still out of their greenhouse and their helpful tips to the police were a way of getting rid of the neogriffithism 1.17 the still in the greenhousecompetition.  They justified their actions with a belief that their moonshine was intended only for celebrations while the other two were selling moonshine intended for drinking.  It didn’t seem to occur to them that Otis and their other customers weren’t really invested in Bastille Day or National Potato Week.

Barney takes an ax and hacks the still apart, causing its contents to spray all over nearby Andy.  The ladies seemingly realize the error of their ways and go straight, entering a new business venture selling preserves; preserves which happen to have a staggering alcohol content.

Sidenotes

  • Andy says Mayberry is a dry county but in the Christmas episode Ben Weaver says that he sells “spirits” in his department store.
  • Floyd gets Andy’s sideburns even.  Floyd’s first appearance (when he was played by a different actor) established that he struggles with sideburns.
  • One of the sisters’ customers claims he is celebrating Muhammad’s birthday.  It’s nice to see elderly ladies in a small town be tolerant of Islamic practices, even if the practitioner is faking it.

The Moral of the Story

To draw any sort of lesson from this episode we have to take it as given that making, selling, and drinking alcohol is unethical, whether you or I believe that is true or not.  The Morrison Sisters believe it is true, but they have convinced themselves that they are doing nothing wrong when they make and sell alcohol themselves.  They believe they’re actions are better than those of the other moonshiners because alcohol for “drinking purposes” is wrong but alcohol for the occasional holiday is fine.  They have used a razor thin difference of intention to justify their actions.

Modern Mayberry

This month the North Carolina congress is taking steps to correct an egregious wrongdoing; they are making new election maps to correct the rampant gerrymandering that has plagued the state.  North Carolina’s electoral maps have been criticized for giving Republicans an unfair advantage and for specifically diminishing the votes of black people.  In February last year a federal court ruled that the criticisms were correct and in May this year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld that ruling.  Republicans, who were responsible for drawing the maps and have profited the most from them, deny the accusations, or at least part of them.  Representative David Lewis, chairman of the state House Select Committee on Redistricting, promised that race was not a concern in drawing the districts but acknowledged that political advantage was.  “We want to make clear that we … are going to use political data in drawing this map… It is to gain partisan advantage on the map … I want that criteria to be clearly stated and understood.”

So there you have it, everything is fine.  David Lewis wants us all to know that he didn’t mean to be racist.  He corrupt actions aren’t racially corrupt, just regular, power hungry corrupt.  It’s just a coincidence that black people were disproportionately affected because they tend to vote Democrat.  They were merely unavoidable casualties in the Republican Party’s battle for power.  And of course, it’s an inexplicable phenomenon that black people are Democrats more often than not.  It’s almost as mysterious as the time North Carolina Republicans drafted voter ID laws that targeted black people with “almost surgical precision.”  Or as random as when former Republican Senator and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions “used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters” according to Coretta Scott King.

It should go without saying that the President of the United States, who is a Republican, has never, ever intended to be racist.  All those years Donald spent accusing President Obama, the first black President, of lying about his American citizenship even after he publicly released his birth certificate were nothing but a pure and patriotic quest for the truth.  And when he decided to run for President himself and started his campaign by falsely claiming that the majority of undocumented Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals he was just saying what everyone else who believes that racist lie was thinking.  And when he banned immigration from seven countries full of brown people he did so honestly and truly believing that every single one of them was a potential threat to America because wouldn’t that be just the kind of strange coincidence we’ve seen so much of lately?  And when white supremacists marched on an American university, killing a woman named Heather Heyer, he really meant to admonish the Nazis, and just the Nazis, and certainly he didn’t intend to claim the fault lied on “many sides.”  It’s just that the words “Nazis are evil” didn’t feel right coming out his mouth for some inexplicable reason.  He just felt more comfortable saying that everyone, including the people standing up to the white supremacists, were to blame.  All he needed was two days for specifically condemning neo-Nazis to come to him more naturally.  You can’t possibly demand someone in his position to call neo-Nazis evil on the same day that neo-Nazis publicly commit an act of evil.  Also, you have to give him room to take back his reluctant condemnation of neo-Nazis the day after that.

Do you see?  It’s just random happenstance that people of color don’t vote Republican, which is why when North Carolina Republicans tried to persecute Democrats they accidentally persecuted black people the most.  Even though these things might seem racist and corrupt it’s just an illusion.  They certainly weren’t intended that way.

What do you think Andy would do?

The Beauty Contest

With the annual Founder’s Day festival on the way Andy and the rest of Mayberry feel it’s time to shake things up.  It seems they’ve grown tired of ending the shindig with the Mayor’s wife singing while riding a horse.  The town council is gathered and after a bit of debate they decide to replace the equestrian vocal performance with a beauty contest.  When it comes time to elect a judge the choice is obvious, especially to Ellie who nominates Andy right out of the gate to unanimous approval.  As they leave the meeting Andy suggests that Ellie had ulterior motives, nominating him so that he would hand her a victory in the contest.  Naturally, such an accusation is wildly offensive to Ellie, a woman of the utmost integrity who had no intention of entering the contest at all.

With Ellie out of the running Andy’s choice becomes much more difficult.  Almost everyone in town comes to Andy to campaign on behalf of themselves of their loved neogriffithism 1.16 an eager contestantones; some under the guise of a peat moss delivery or a simple request for sugar, others using blatant bribery or “tit-for-tat” manipulations.  Even Opie is insistent that his father choose his classmate while Aunt Bee believes he should convince Ellie to enter and choose her.

Fortunately, Andy has some help organizing the event.   An older woman named Erma Bishop offers to take the reigns as planner and costume designer while Floyd prepares a song.  However, when the time comes Andy is the only one who can make the final decision.  Matters are only farther complicated when Aunt Bee enters Ellie in the contest without her consent or knowledge.  Ellie warns Andy that if he chooses her she will always resent him.  With the pressure on Andy makes the neogriffithism 1.16 Erma is crownedunorthodox decision to give the crown to the only woman in town without a horse in the race who won’t eviscerate him if chosen, Erma Bishop.  Among the many disappointed people is Opie, who is satisfied when Andy informally declares his classmate, Mary Wiggins, Miss Mayberry Junior.

Sidenotes

  • It’s a little surprising that Ellie is so enthusiastic about the idea of a beauty contest and seemingly not even a little conflicted about the nature of the thing.
  • Barney is absent from this episode.
  • Joy Ellison, the young actress who plays Opie’s crush and classmate, has built a successful career in Hollywood as a dialect coach.  According to a quote from Antonio Banderas on her website, he owes his American film career to Joy.  She appears in a few more episodes of The Andy Griffith Show but as different characters.

The Moral of the Story

This episode revolves around a decision that Andy makes: selecting the winner of the beauty contest.  His choice of Erma, rather than the young, eager contestants, is attributed to “inside beauty” rather than “outside beauty.”  The implication is clearly that a person’s character is more important than any superficial attributes.

Modern Mayberry

Much of President Donald’s appeal throughout his campaign and to his few remaining supporters is that he by all rights should not have won the election.  He was a highly unorthodox candidate, an even darker horse than Erma who wasn’t even enrolled in the beauty contest.  A recent Washington Post op-ed adoringly called him “a game-changer, a disrupter, a practitioner of what I see as ‘crafted chaos.’”

I can understand the appeal of a left-field idea; after all, this is a blog that combines a half-century old TV show with modern politics and the occasional remembrances of Moral Philosophy 101.  However, there’s a big difference between a beauty contest and the Presidency.  When a costume designer is named Miss Mayberry the only consequence is the broken hearts of hopeful contestants.  When a chaos agent becomes President of the United States the effects exist on a much larger scale.

In just six months, by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords, along with his reluctance to abide by the commitment to NATO and other isolationist rhetoric and action Donald has greatly reduced America’s standing as a world leader.  The U.S. is no longer the most respected democracy in the world, as it was for almost a century prior.  There are much more tactile results closer to home.  In May we recognized that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had arrested over 10,000 undocumented immigrants without any other infraction since Donald’s inauguration.  That’s a 150% increase from the year before.

The idea of someone who doesn’t fit the superficial expectations for the job but knows how to do the work and get results is exciting.  The problem is, the job of the President is largely superficial.  The President is a representative of America to the rest of the world.  He is also a leader who should serve as a calming or inspiring influence as needed.  As for rolling up his sleeves and getting down to business, Donald doesn’t seem to be doing much of that either.  Reports indicate that he spends much of his time watching TV, specifically FOX News, but there’s less evidence that he’s doing any nitty-gritty bureaucratic labor.  Deciding the winner of a beauty contest based on character is all well and good, but choosing a President based on capacity to disrupt the status quo is a huge gamble.

What do you think Andy would do?

Those Gossipin’ Men

One thing’s for sure, word travels fast in a small town, even if it’s the wrong word.  This episode begins in the pharmacy with a group of women, including Aunt Bee and Emma Brand, discussing the local goings on like a woman who dyes her hair and another who neogriffithism 1.15 pharmacy gossipwent to Raleigh in search of new teeth.  They are interrupted by Andy, who has come in to buy medicine for a cut Barney received while cleaning his gun.  After a little telephoning word gets back to Barney that what he thought was a cut was actually a bullet to the chest, according to the word about town.  Andy chastises Aunt Bee and Emma for their gossiping ways, specifically blaming the tendency on their gender.

Back at the pharmacy Aunt Bee fumes about Andy’s sexist remark.  When a stranger drops in for a root beer Aunt Bee decides to use his arrival in town to prove a point.  She tells Andy and Barney that the stranger is just a traveling shoe salesman, which he is, unless he isn’t (he is).  Andy and Barney get curious and, along with the inhabitants of Floyd’s barber shop (the male equivalent of theneogriffithism 1.15 the men gossip pharmacy), their imaginations get the better of them.  They gossip until they come to believe that the salesman is secretly a producer and talent scout for a TV show.

The men of Mayberry devise a plan to audition for the “producer” without letting him know that they know his secret identity.  One at a time they visit his hotel room to buy a pair of shoes and while being fitted they or their loved ones play a little music for him.  Thanks to Mayberry’s loose lips and starry eyes the salesman, a meek individual seemingly unfit for his trade, manages to break the company record for most shoes sold in a day.  Before he leaves town he thanks his patrons for their business and confirms that he really is just a traveling salesman.  Later on Aunt Bee teases Andy for his participation in the farce, which he denies, before he receives a shipment of three pairs of shoes.

Sidenotes

  • Some may think that The Andy Griffith Show exhibits a trend of small-town folk teaching city-slickers a thing or two, but so far when the big city comes to Mayberry it’s more often been the locals who learn something about themselves.
  • This is the first episode to really feature an ensemble of established supporting characters, including Emma Brand, Floyd the barber, Orville the mortician (his last appearance, unfortunately), Jason the hotelier, and Fred the pharmacist, whose niece Ellie is missing.
  • Ellie’s absence is particularly striking considering that she’s Mayberry’s own feminist icon.
  • When Andy first enters the pharmacy a TV Guide with Lucille Ball on the cover can be seen on the shelf by neogriffithism 1.15 Andy and Lucythe door.  The Andy Griffith Show was shot at Desilu, the studio owned by Lucille Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz.

The Moral of the Story

Andy thinks that women are more prone to gossip than men, but Aunt Bee easily proves him wrong.  Clearly, gossip is a tendency that people of all genders are drawn to.  All it takes is a raised eyebrow from Aunt Bee for the masculine rumor mill to turn a mild-mannered shoe salesman into a mass media heavy hitter.  Andy buys in to a stereotype that is easily proven to be inaccurate, as most stereotypes are.

Modern Mayberry

Stereotypes, whether based on gender or race or almost anything else, are odd things.  On one level our brains are wired to categorize things and find patterns.  On another, the “patterns” we come to believe tend to be ridiculous or even dangerous.  For instance, there are a few dozen different nationalities or cultural identities with a reputation for drinking in excess.  At a certain point we may just have to accept that alcohol is pretty popular all over.  When it comes to gendered stereotypes specifically, I can’t help but think of the 2016 election (which I know should be left in the past, but rest easy because this isn’t really about who should or shouldn’t have won, just a simple observation.)

For many years, the running misogynistic justifications for why a woman shouldn’t be President were that “women are too emotional,” or “illogical,” or “get periods and that makes them really emotional and illogical.”  I often wonder how many of the same people who believed that voted for Donald, a raw nerve if ever there was one, while claiming that Hillary was too “cold” or “robotic.”  All the worst (and dumbest) fears about a female President have been realized in Donald and somehow I have a feeling that his more rabid supporters don’t see the irony.

Donald himself is known to traffic in stereotypes.  He famously started his campaign by claiming that most Mexican immigrants are criminals or rapists, a broad accusation with no merit in reality.  It’s also pretty clear whenever he speaks about black people that he’s not imagining real people but The Wire characters.  When he speaks about Muslims he’s actually talking about a cartoon terrorist, like Jeff Dunham’s puppet.  I would like to think I shouldn’t have to say this, but just to be safe allow me to assure you that none of these stereotypes are true.  The vast majority of Mexicans, including immigrants (illegal or otherwise), are not rapists, most black people live outside of inner-cites and most Muslims are not terrorists and most terrorists are not Muslims.

Again, it’s natural for our brains to look for patterns, but our brains can be wrong, especially if we’re relying on stray observations rather than professional statistics.  I recommend that you Google any stereotypes you may have heard (and be careful to only listen to respectable sources), especially if they suggest criminal tendencies and if they affect an election or policy.  “Are Mexicans rapists” doesn’t look great in your search history but it’s better to know the truth than to rely on gossiping men.

What do you think Andy would do?

The Horse Trader

The local kids have gotten a taste for the bartering system.  Opie plans to push some “licorice seeds” he got in a bad deal on to someone else in return for a pair of roller neogriffithism 1.14 shaving in the cellskates.  When Andy hears about it he puts a stop to it and reminds Opie of the “golden rule.”  Opie makes the common mistake of confusing “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” with “do unto others what has been done unto you.”  Nevertheless, he agrees to call off the trade.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before Andy’s words come back to bite him.  Despite Barney’s objections the town council decides to get rid of a cannon that has become a local landmark/eyesore.  The mayor tasks Andy and Barney with selling it.  After lugging the cannon all around town they are entirely unsuccessful.  Even Barney, who so passionately insisted that the town keep the cannon, refuses to buy it for himself.  While taking a break for a treat at the Walker drug store they come across a stranger who deals in antiquities.  In the bartering process Andy stretches the truth a little, claiming the cannon has more historical significance than it really does, whichneogriffithism 1.14 kicking the tires infuriates Barney and inspires Opie to follow suit.  He finally gets his roller skates by implying that an old cufflink once belonged to George Washington.  Meanwhile, Barney drowns his sorrows in root beer floats until Ellie, who is also disappointed in Andy, has no choice but to cut him off.

When Andy finds out about Opie’s trade he is furious.  It takes him perhaps a little longer than it should to realize he’s guilty of the same thing.  He returns to the drug store where he makes amends with the dealer and settles on a much lower price for the cannon, earning the forgiveness of Ellie and Barney, the latter of which has a root beer float tummy ache.  However, it was all for naught, because a Mayberry native who moved away and found success buys the cannon without recognizing it and donates it back to the town.

Sidenotes

  • Opie looks into the camera and expresses displeasure at being cheated and not being allowed to pay it forward.  A fourth wall break like that indicates an impressive grasp of metarealism for a young person.
  • Ellie returns, although she doesn’t have much to do, and is finally shown as a member of the city council.  However, it seems she took Orville or Floyd’s seat because at least one of them seems to be missing.  There are two men in the meeting whose faces are never seen.  One of them could be Orville or, more likely, Floyd, but the other is a larger man with white hair.
  • Thematically, this episode is almost the polar opposite of the previous one.  “Mayberry Goes Hollywood” is largely about resisting change but this episode begins with Andy criticizing Barney for being too conservative.  Andy’s eagerness to get rid of the cannon stands in stark contrast with his loyalty to the tree.
  • Actor Max Showalter, who plays antiques dealer Ralph Mason, played Ward Cleaver in the pilot of Leave it to Beaver.

The Moral of the Story

“Honesty is the best policy.”  Andy spells out the episode’s lesson pretty early on when he learns of his son’s bartering tactics.  Of course, it doesn’t take long for him to forget his own lecture and use the same kinds of methods to sell the cannon.  That’s when Opie reminds his father of his own words and Andy remembers that no sale is good enough to justify deception.

Modern Mayberry

If you don’t know by now that President Donald is a “horse trader” or unprecedented audacity then this isn’t going to change your mind.  More than a few times in the past we’ve focused on Donald’s deceptions and the Republican Party’s attempts to repeal Obamacare.  Personally, I’m craving a change of pace.  For this post I thought it might be a good idea to research “untruths” by going to the fact checker at the Washington Post.  Of course, Donald’s face was plastered all over it, but there was another pattern that emerged, kind of.  Since May there have been a few fact-checks of Democrats who have made misleading claims about the Republican health-care bill.

In the immediate aftermath of the AHCA’s public reveal it was pretty common to see people claim that it made being a rape survivor a preexisting condition.  That’s not true at all.  Perhaps, hypothetically, under very specific circumstances it could be possible under the AHCA for someone to be denied coverage because of an assault-related medical problem but it’s more likely for them to be struck by lightning and for the exposure to electricity to cure them of gayness.

On May 4th, Senator Kamala Harris tweeted “Once again 129M people with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage and insurers could charge sick people more money.”  129 million is a very high estimate based on an outdated report.  This tweet seems to suggest that the AHCA would allow insurance companies to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, an outcome the bill specifically tries to avoid.

On May 16th, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said “Seven million veterans will lose their tax credit for their families in this bill.”  As the Post points out, that’s a bit of an overstatement.  It seems Republicans have made sincere efforts to maintain protections for veterans and even in a worst case scenario “seven million” is a little high.

Then, in June, Nancy said “Americans will lose their health coverage because of this proposal.  And it is a job loser.  Estimated to be 1.8 million jobs lost.  Donald Trump is a job loser.”  It’s true that one estimate claimed 1.8 million jobs could be lost, but it’s also true that another study estimates that the number is more like 400,000.

As you might be able to tell, these statements are more complicated than they seem at first, which is why the Post and other journalists tend to avoid using words like “lie,” even when talking about Donald Trump.  Still, the complexity surrounding issues like healthcare is all the more reason for one to watch one’s words when discussing them.  We should be able to rely on each other and especially our leaders to have an open, honest conversation about these issues and making false claims doesn’t help matters.  In a time when the President of the United States has declared war on the press and, at times it seems, the very idea of factuality and a shared reality, it’s all the more important for all of us to prioritize truth and accuracy.  In a time when nearly all of the world’s knowledge is available at all of our fingertips, holding our leaders accountable should be easy and lying should be almost impossible.

What do you think Andy would do?

Mayberry Goes Hollywood

The prospect of a movie being filmed in Mayberry has the town leadership suspicious at first.  Floyd the barber and Orville the mortician/television repairman are concerned that the movie will be disrespectful to the tneogriffithism 1.13 the meetingown.  Andy convinces the Mayor and the council to give him a chance to test the producer of the film, known only as Mr. Harmon.  Andy takes him on a tour around town so Harmon can scout the location and Andy can make sure he will portray the town in a positive light.  Both tests are passed with flying colors.  Harmon goes back to Los Angeles planning to make his movie in Mayberry and Andy vouches for his intentions.

With a film crew on the way all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood goes to the people of Mayberry’s heads.  All the storefronts are gussied up and advertising the Tinsel Town neogriffithism 1.13 through the lenslifestyle to patrons who are dressed to the nines.  Even young Opie is lured by the Hollywood lights; perhaps feeling that he has a future behind the camera.  Andy is the only one to keep his feet on the ground and no one is willing to let him bring them back down.

When Harmon returns he is met by an entirely different Mayberry than the one he left.  He is literally greeted by a celebration complete with a band, a banner, several plates of deserts and a song by theneogriffithism 1.13 the corner with Andy mayor’s daughter.  When two men start to take a saw to an old oak tree Harmon plans to put in the movie but the Mayberrians consider an eyesore, albeit one with great emotional resonance, a line is crossed.  Harmon expresses his disappointment but promises he will still make his movie in town as long as it returns to the way it was before.  He gets his wish and Mayberry resists the urge to change, just like it has for decades apparently.

Sidenotes

  • Ellie doesn’t appear in this episode (the second in a row).  It seems she has yet to be inaugurated into the city council.
  • There are many references to famous actors.
    • Barney mentions Gary Cooper, who is perhaps best known for playing a sheriff in High Noon.
    • He also brings up Gabby Hayes, an famous for playing goofy sidekicks in Westerns.  One might compare the noble, dignified figure of Cooper to Andy and the comical Hayes to Barney.
    • Aunt Bee has a crush on Rock Hudson.  The producer, who is likely in on the Hollywood gossip, is nice enough to not tell her she has even less of a chance than she thinks.
  • This is the first appearance of Mayor Pike, the first Mayberry local we’ve seen who outranks Andy.
  • Orville Monroe, the mortician who protested Jim Lindsey’s street performance, returns as a member of the town council.  It is revealed that he also repairs televisions.

The Moral of the Story

Fortunately, Andy learned the dangers of pride in time to resist the vanity that rest of the town falls prey to.  While at first skeptical, once Mayberry gets a taste of potential fame the town loses sight of its identity.  The people are willing to change their hair, clothes, and anything else just to make the camera love them.  They almost cut down a sacred, beloved tree without a second thought just in the hopes of pleasing the filmmakers.  When superficial concerns and more enduring values come into conflict Mayberry learns what is really important.

Modern Mayberry

By its very nature politics is largely about appearances.  A politician’s job security is dependent on people liking him or her.  Senators and congress members are specifically elected by the people to represent the will of the people.  No political system can work if it’s members lack diplomacy and maybe even a little vanity.  (I can’t tell you how frustrating I find it that anyone thinks a politician should be “politically incorrect.”)

However, positions of power tend to require one to make difficult decisions.  That can sometimes mean doing things that don’t look good from the outside, things that might upset voters.  As has recently become much too apparent to many the electorate isn’t always right.  I imagine many elected officials struggle with whether it’s more important to do what’s right or what the voters want them to do.  I know President Jed Bartlet did in at least one episode of The West Wing.  With a prisoner set to be executed in 48 hours Jed is torn between a regard for life partially inspired by his Catholic faith and the mandate of the American citizenry, 71% of which supports capital punishment according to the fictional President.  Ultimately, he allows the prisoner to be executed then gives a confession his childhood priest, who he has invited to the White House to advise him on the issue.

I imagine, in my more optimistic moments, many Republicans feel a similar internal conflict about healthcare.  Hardly anyone would argue that improved access to healthcare doesn’t lead to more people living longer and yet every attempt in the recent past to replace or alter Obamacare would result in a major decrease in the number of people who have coverage.  That’s one reason every attempt fails, because moderates in the party are afraid of their constituents losing coverage (but also because the extremists feel not enough people would lose coverage).  They keep trying because for almost a decade they have been railing against President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan and they would seem pretty silly if they didn’t do something about it now that their party controls the executive branch and both houses of congress.  Eventually they’ll have to choose between what seems best and actually is best.  Maybe cutting down the tree isn’t as good an idea as it seems.

What do thing Andy would do?

Stranger in Town

A new face in Mayberry has the whole town afraid and angry.  While Andy is helping the barber, Floyd, trim Barney’s sideburns a man named Ed Sawyer gets off the bus and Neogriffithism 1.12 trimming Barney's sideburnscomes into the barbershop to say “hi.”  He has them at a disadvantage, though, because Ed knows who everyone is but no one knows a thing about him.  They follow Ed to the hotel, where he greets the clerk Jason and asks for a room he knows has been recently painted.  Along the way Ed stops to coo at baby twins, who he can tell apart to their mother’s amazement.

Ed’s encyclopedic knowledge of a town he’s never been to before and generally eccentric tendencies rub the whole town the wrong way and they pressure Andy to arrest him.  He refuses because Ed hasn’t committed any crimes, even though his deputy is convinced that the newcomer is a “foreign spy.”  Ed continues to try to set down roots in his new Neogriffithism 1.12 Ed gets off the bushometown, attempting to purchase a gas station that is for sale and to woo Lucy Matthews, who he is madly in love with despite having never seen her.  Andy finally asks Ed about his odd behavior.  He reveals that in the Army he befriended a Mayberry native who told him all about the town.  Ed became so enamored with the charming hamlet we all know and love that he got his own subscription to the local newspaper and studied it diligently, learning everything he could about his destination.  When he found out that the gas station was for sale he made his move and tried to blend in.

Shortly after Ed leaves Andy’s office he is confronted by an angry mob, who yell that heNeogriffithism 1.12 the angry mob should go back “where he come from.”  Andy steps in and defends Ed from Lucy’s brother Bill, who wants to fight him.  Andy gives the following speech.

You’re all trying to run this boy out of town. Now, what’s his big crime? What’s this boy done to make all of you so mad at him? Nothing. Not nary a thing. He just picked Mayberry to be his hometown is all. Picked it right out. And how come he knows so much about everybody? He’s been taking our hometown paper by mail. Been reading and studying up on everybody and then he decided he wanted to come here and live, fit in, and act like one of you. His only crime was he tried to fit in a little too fast. Got overanxious about it. Made some of you feel suspicious. Made some of you feel foolish. Scared some of you. But out of all the towns he picked Mayberry to be his hometown. It looks like to me you’d be proud to have a fella who thinks so much of you to want to come settle down and live amongst you. [Ed says “Andy, forget it.”] I don’t blame you. I don’t blame you nary a bit for wanting to forget it. Some fellas pick the wrong woman. I reckon you picked the wrong town. I wouldn’t blame you nary a bit if you left here and never set one foot in here again and the way I feel right now, I’ve a great mind to go with you.

After Andy’s speech the tide turns.  Lucy says she’d like for Ed to call on her, the gas stationneogriffithism 1.12 Ed's first Mayberry haircut owner George agrees to the sale, and Jason invites him to stay at the hotel for many months to come.  Having finally been embraced by the town Ed stops in to Floyd’s barber shop for a proper haircut as a full-fledged Mayberry citizen.

Sidenotes

  • Ed Sawyer does not appear on the show again.
  • Ellie’s move to Mayberry is bumpy but a little easier than Ed’s.  I suppose in Mayberry an uncle qualifies as a “bona fide relationship.”
  • This is only the first of many appearances by Floyd Lawson, the barber.  He is played by Walter Baldwin for this episode alone.  He will soon be replaced by Howard McNear.
  • This is the last of four episodes written by Arthur Strander, who also wrote the back door pilot episode of Make Room for Daddy, “Danny Meets Andy Griffith.”

The Moral of the Story

Several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show in just the first half of the first season are about fear.  Among them “Stranger in Town” is the most poignant and relevant parable of the dangers of fear, specifically of outsiders.  An unknown quantity steps off the bus and all it takes is a little odd behavior to work up the citizens into a fury.  They are terrified and outraged because this outsider has the gall to consider himself one of them, to think he would be welcome in a place famous for its hospitality.  For years he has done nothing but dream of building a new life in this Promised Land but when he arrives he is told he doesn’t belong.  Sound familiar?

Modern Mayberry

I imagine the conversation surrounding immigration was quite different than it is now but this episode almost feels like it’s intended as a parable on the topic in the 21st century.  It is especially relevant since President Donald Trump has apparently declared war on immigrants.  A centerpiece of his agenda is limiting immigration from Mexico and the Middle East, specifically Muslim-majority countries.  In his first week in office he signed an executive order banning immigration from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Iraq for 90 days.  That order was quickly blocked by a judge in Seattle.  A revised ban was put into place in March, with some small changes indcluding the removal of Iran from the list.  That ban was also quickly blocked.  In late June the Supreme Court agreed to a weakened version of the ban and it was enacted on June 29.

Meanwhile, Donald has had no difficulty whatsoever in his mission to deport Mexican immigrants, as we’ve already discussed.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement saw a 40% increase in arrests just in Donald’s first four months as President.  Almost 11,000 of those who have been arrested committed no crime other than immigrating without the requisite documentation.  Donald also plans to build a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border but such an ambitious project will obviously take more time.

Donald himself, of course, is a product of immigrants.  His grandfather, Friedrich Trump, moved to the U.S. from Germany, then moved back to Germany, where he was deported back to the U.S. for failure to serve in the military (that part must run in the family).  I point this out not call Donald a hypocrite but to restate what apparently can’t be stated enough, that the United States is a nation of immigrants.  Immigration is at the very heart of our collective narrative.  We celebrate Christopher Columbus every year purely because he was the first person from a certain part of the world to come to America (even though we probably shouldn’t).  One of our most important holidays is Thanksgiving, when we celebrate the Pilgrims who traveled here from England to escape religious persecution and the indigenous people who welcomed them (even though they probably shouldn’t have).  We gloss over the problems with these historical events for one simple reason, nothing is more American than coming to America.

Donald claims that his actions against immigrants are intended to protect Americans but that is nonsense.  He claims that Muslim immigrants will terrorize but that is wildly unlikely.  Terrorism is a real threat but it is so rarely committed by Muslims in America that it’s almost a statistical impossibility.  He says that Mexican immigrants tend to be rapists, but that is also a bold-faced lie; a claim so outrageous that the fact-checkers at the Washington Post hesitated to acknowledge it at all.

If immigrants don’t really pose that much of a threat, why are Donald and his supporters so afraid of them?  Why are they so willing to accept the lies?  Maybe because Mexicans talk funny and Muslims wear odd hats.  Or because Mexicans work too hard and Muslims pray to God using another name.  Maybe the problem isn’t the immigrants but spoiled, ungrateful children of immigrants (because nearly all Americans are descended from immigrants).  After all, Ed Sawyer never hurt anyone; it was the town that was wrong.  It was wrong at first, at least.  The people of Mayberry came around in the end, once they learned the truth about Ed.  Maybe, just maybe, there’s hope for Donald’s supporters as well, if they’re just willing to listen and learn about the people they’re so afraid of.

What do you think Andy would do?

Christmas Story

There are worse ways to spend Christmas than in a Mayberry jail cell.  A handful of citizens are locked up and can expect to do just that until Andy decides to release them, under agreement that they’ll come back after the holiday, of course.  He rationalizes that the purpose of the penal system is to teach, making jail akin to school and schools are closed on Christmas.  Besides, if there are prisoners in the cells a guard has to be there to watch them and that would deprive Barney of his Christmas celebration as well.  Just after the prisoners have been released one more is brought in.  Ben Weaver, the owner of the local department store, caught Sam Muggins with moonshine, threatening the sales of Ben’s legitimate whisneogriffithism 1.11 Aunt Bee's turkeykey.  Ben insists that Andy lock up Sam for the night and threatens to go over the Sheriff’s head to the state government if he doesn’t.

Now with both Sam and Barney required to stay at the jail for the holiday Andy decides to bring Christmas to the jail.  He locks up Sam’s wife and children for “aiding and abetting” and deputizes his own friends and family to keep watch over the dangerous criminals.  Ben is outraged that Sam isn’t being adequately punished but he can’t argue with Andy’s logic.  That leaves Ben neogriffithism 1.11 Grinch in the windowout in the cold while the people in the jail are having a gay old time.  He takes to venting his frustrations with petty crime.  He steals the bench from in front of the Sheriff’s office but Ellie convinces Andy to just let him have it.  Then he parks in front of a fire hydrant and refuses to pay the fine, but Ellie pays it for him.  Then, while standing on a crate to peer into the jail he falls over and causes a ruckus.  When Andy goes outside to investigate he finally sees through Ben’s ruse and realizes the old man is just lonely.

Andy gives Ben what he wants and locks him up, but first he takes him back to the department store to get a few things.  Before Ben gets in the cell he delivers gifts to the neogriffithism 1.11 gift givingmerrymakers and Aunt Bee gives him a plate of warm food.  Ben has so much fun he drinks all of Sam’s moonshine, erasing the evidence and giving Andy no choice but to let Sam go home and put his kids to bed.

Sidenotes

  • I wonder if the writers gave “Ben” that name because Andy Griffith seemed to have so much fun saying it in No Time for Sergeants.
  • Elinor Donahue said this was her favorite episode that she appeared in.
  • In the same interview she describes singing “Away in a Manger” with Griffith despite her nervousness.  That song was filmed in an almost-two minute long shot that follows Andy and Ellie around the room then goes into the cell and zooms in on Ben in the window.  I imagine that was fairly ambitious for the time.

The Moral of the Story

This is the story of a sad, lonely man.   Ben is Mayberry’s own Grinch or Scrooge type character, someone who feels bad and wants others to feel the same.  He insists on punishing Sam to the full extent of the law, showing no mercy whatsoever on Christmas of all days, because of something that tangentially affects his bottom line but doesn’t do much harm outside of that.  He’s cruel and selfish.  He never really relents on his mercilessness towards Sam, but he does come to show some generosity and Christmas spirit.  Andy, on the other hand, learns that under all of Ben’s spiteful, malicious behavior there is a great pain.  He welcomes the curmudgeon to participate in the festivities because even a misanthrope deserves a merry Christmas.

Modern Mayberry

I couldn’t count on all my fingers and toes and yours too how many times I’ve seen an article that says “Trump’s healthcare plan will hurt his supporters the most” or some variation on that.  His budget, including cuts to the food stamps program, along with the Republican healthcare plan, would all be terrible for Donald Trump’s base of poor and working class white people.  Who could have expected that from someone who has constantly proven himself to be cruel, merciless, and volatile before and during his presidency?  It can be hard to have sympathy for someone who would stand behind a person like that.  As a matter of fact, I’ve seen a few, not many but some, on the left who take pleasure in their pain.

I don’t think Donald’s supporters deserve the suffering they can expect if the Republicans’ healthcare bill goes through, but I sometimes wonder if they know that’s what they can expect and if it’s what they want.  The poor and working class who voted for Donald must have known that he said over and over again he would repeal Obamacare.  Did they think that the congress people in his party would give them more and better coverage?  Anyone who knows anything about Speaker of the House Paul Ryan knows that generosity for the less fortunate isn’t exactly part of his agenda.  The way I see it, that only leaves two possibilities: Donald’s poorer supporters really believe in Paul’s Randian trickle-down philosophy and think that if rich people get a tax cut it will be better for them in the long run or they think the rest of Donald’s agenda is more important, perhaps the part about magically creating coal jobs out of thin air, if I’m being generous.

Let’s take Donald’s lies and bigotry out of the equation and just assume that many of Donald’s poorer supporters believe the former, that renewed Reaganomics would have good results in time.  Like it or not, that’s not a totally insane thing to think.  The economy was relatively strong under Reagan.  Even if Presidents don’t seem to have that much effect on the economy it’s a pretty common thing for people to think.

So, if Donald’s more well-intentioned supporters are willing to risk short-term misery for the promise of a better future maybe they do deserve that chance.  Of course, if the gamble doesn’t pay off Donald’s supporters aren’t the only ones who will be affected by it.  In every state and every town and many households that went for Donald  there is someone who did not, those who are skeptical of Paul’s philosophy and are repulsed by Donald’s behavior.  Also, while the white working class may have gone for Donald, the non-white working class and all other minorities of any demographic most certainly did not.

Unfortunately, this is all a demonstration of blind optimism.  The election of Donald Trump was not driven by the economy but by “cultural anxiety.”  Donald’s supporters don’t care about the economy or their own well-being as much as they do the changing face of America, a face that is becoming less white and straight and more black and brown and gay and trans with each passing day.  That sounds a lot like racism and bigotry if I’m being ungenerous.  Really, the question is, for their Ben Weaverish ill-will towards minorities do Donald’s working class supporters deserve to lose their health insurance and suffer any other number of bad effects that will result from his and Paul’s leadership?  Andy Taylor would say no.

What do you think Andy would do?

 

Ellie for Council

In the first overtly and literally political episode women’s liberation comes to Mayberry.  The town’s path to gender equality is a bumpy one, to say the least.  It begins when Ellie suddenly realizes that there are no women on theneogriffithism 1.10 Ellie reads the paper city council and decides to do something about it.  By entering the race she starts an unseemly battle of the sexes.  The men are so appalled by the very thought of a woman running for office that when Barney is seduced by his girlfriend Hilda Mae into signing Ellie’s petition for candidacy he is berated and belittled.  Even wise, genteel Andy is inches away from calling him a “cuck,” all because a woman has the gall to consider herself equal to a man.

Nevertheless, there are enough women in town for Ellie to get all the signatures she needs and make it on the ballot.  The men decide to push back by cutting the womenfolk, NeoGriffithism 1.10 Good girls revoltmostly housewives and other homemakers like Aunt Bee, off from the flow of cash (in effect proving the need for gender equality).  The women respond in kind, forcing the men to perform their own household chores.

With the women unable to shop and the men left to iron their own shirts and prepare their own meals the conflict has gotten too strained for Ellie.  She drops out of the race, prompting young Opie to boast about male superiority and rant about the need to keep women in their place.  Finally, Andy sees the poor example he’s set for his son, so he goes to a protest for Ellie to announce his support.  It would seem, Neogriffithism 1.10 the crowd reacts to Andy's support for Elliebased on his statement, that gender isn’t a good enough reason to oppose someone’s candidacy.  Go figure.  In the episode’s tag Andy sings a made up song that seems to confirm that Ellie won the election.

Sidenotes

  • Ellie and Barney both return after a two episode absence.  This is also the triumphant return of Otis, the town drunk, who last appeared in the premier.
  • Otis is imprisoned for trying to hit his wife with a leg of lamb but hitting his mother-in-law instead.  This episode’s casual attitude towards domestic abuse is quite unsettling.
  • We are introduced to Otis’ wife Rita and Barney’s girlfriend Hilda Mae, neither of whom stick around for very long.

The Moral of the Story

While certainly problematic, this episode may have been somewhat progressive for its time, but it’s hard to be sure.  It’s worth noting that when it aired in 1960 second wave feminism was in its very early stages.  It’s hard to look past all the light hearted jokes about domestic abuse, but Ellie on her own is an impressive figure.  She’s educated, comfortably employed, and now an elected official in a town she can’t have lived in for longer than a few months.  In Andy’s speech supporting Ellie he explains that he and his fellow men opposed her candidacy because she’s a woman and “when you try to think of another reason, you kind of draw a bland.”  That, along with Opie’s learned misogyny, is why he comes around to back Ellie’s campaign.

Modern Mayberry

Obviously, there is a famous example of a woman running for office in recent memory.  Few people would say that they voted against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election specifically because she’s a woman but it’s hard to believe her gender didn’t play a role.  Many are still trying to understand how a candidate with a handful of scandals in her long political career lost to a novice who lapped her scandal-wise several times over in his first complete campaign.  It certainly seems like gender may have been one possible factor but it’s hard to quantify just how much effect it had.

The existence of a “glass ceiling” in a broader sense is a little easier to prove.  First, let’s state an obvious truth for perspective: women make up roughly half of the population.  Meanwhile, there are currently 21 women in the U.S. Senate out of 100 seats.  83 of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are filled by women.  In total, women make up 19.4 percent of congress.  You see similar proportions in most state legislatures.  North Carolina, for example, has 39 female legislators out of 170 seats (22.9%).

The private sector is even worse somehow.  Only 6.4% of the CEOs on the Fortune 500 are female.  32 of the 500 leading companies in the U.S. are run by women.  A more encouraging statistic is that 31% of all privately held companies are owned by women, but the question remains “why is it so hard for women to make it to the top of the top?”  All of these numbers are higher than they’ve ever been before but there is clearly a lot of room for improvement.

What would Andy do?

Now that Andy has learned the error of his sexist ways, and with the benefit of over a half-century of progress since 1960, I imagine a modern Andy would be more than happy to support a qualified female candidate.  He might be reluctant at first but Andy Taylor is a man who values equality and progress.  On a related note, Andy Griffith supported a woman, Bev Perdue, for Governor of North Carolina in 2008.

Do you think this episode was progressive for its time?  Should Ellie Walker be hailed as a feminist icon?  How much did gender affect the 2016 election, if at all?  Are you hopeful about the state of gender equality?

A Feud is a Feud

In Mayberry, even Romeo and Juliet can have a happy ending.  A pair of star-crossed lovers, Josh Wakefield and Hannah Carter, arrives on the Taylors’ doorstep in the middle of the night to ask Andy, the justice of the peace, to perform a wedding ceremony.  He’s happy to oblige before he finds out about the “star-crossed” part.  The wedding is interrupted by the bride and groom’s respective fathers who are both wielding shotguns.  They demand that Andy stop the wedding, forbidding the marriage of a Wakefield and aneogriffithism 1.09 shotgun notwedding Carter, seeing as how the two families are locked in a feud that has lasted generations.  Andy reluctantly relents and allows the men to drag the young lovers apart, much to the chagrin of Opie and Aunt Bee, who think he behaved cowardly.  The next morning Andy tells the story of those “two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona,” to explain that he has a plan.  Unlike the friar who married Romeo and Juliet hoping it would end the feud, Andy is going to end the feud then marry the young lovers.

Andy goes first to Josh’s father, Jedediah Wakefield, to find out what started the feud in the first place, but he doesn’t have the answer so Andy goes to Mr. Carter, who is just as in the dark.  Reaneogriffithism 1.09 running awaylizing no one seems to know exactly why the Carters and the Wakefields are feuding, just that they’re feuding, Andy starts to develop a plan.  He tracks down Josh and Hannah just before they can run away together and recruits their help doing research.  After scouring the town records they can’t find a single instance of a Wakefield or Carter actually killing someone from the opposing family.  Now that he has proof that the feud is little more than a performance he puts the murderous inclinations of the fathers to the test.  He invites Jedediah and Mr. Carter to the woods so they can neogriffithism 1.09 duelhave a duel and finally put some blood into their blood feud.  Ultimately, neither man wants to shoot or be shot.  When they have their backs turned to each other with Andy in the middle he fires his pistol in the air and both duelists take off running.

They reunite back at Andy’s house, where he has the young people confront each other’s parents.  The men come to understand that the young romantics are bold, courageous people and they would be lucky to have either one as a son or daughter in-law.  Finally, they turn their guns on Andy one more time and insist that he perform the wedding.

Sidenotes

  • The almost five minute long retelling of Romeo and Juliet gives Griffith a chance to revisit his early career as a monologist.
  • The actress who plays Hannah Carter, Karyn Kupcinet, has a fascinating biography, ending with her tragic death that may have been connected to the Kennedy assassination.
  • This is the second episode in a row without either Barney or Ellie.
  • Andy famously doesn’t carry a gun but he makes an exception for the duel.
  • The citizens of Mayberry seem to have their own version of Hamilton’s ten duel commandments including “count in French” and “run away.”

The Moral of the Story

Previously we’ve seen episodes about fear; fear of failure and fear of rejection, specifically.  This episode, however, is about courage; that of two young people who take on the world in the name of love.  Their fathers like to wave their guns around and talk tough, but it’s no less theater than the works of Shakespeare.  When the danger is real the men show their true colors and run for the hills.  Their children, on the other hand, their hearts aflame with the indomitable passions of youth, stare down the barrels of a pair of shotguns without flinching.  Ultimately, it’s the bravery of Josh and Hannah that ends the feud and unites the two warring families.

Modern Mayberry

This one is a little upsetting because it features the farthest removal between the simplistic wholesomeness of Mayberry and complexity of the obvious real world analogue.  I really wish I could say that the political divide in the United States is as empty as the Wakefield/Carter feud.  I wish it were a meaningless conflict over nothing at all, but I can’t pretend the needs of poor people don’t matter or that the hateful rhetoric towards minorities has no consequences.  I wish this could all be solved by the love between James Carville and Mary Matalin.  I really, really, really wish I could say that no blood has ever been shed.

Tragically, we’ve seen a rise in domestic terrorism in the U.S.  More and more Americans of all stripes and creeds are turning to violence as an expression of their ideologies, creating a threat not from out but from within.  On Sunday a teenage Muslim girl was killed.  Her death is not being investigated as a hate crime but it’s hard to imagine the killer having any other motive considering the wave of Islamophobic attacks in recent months, both in America and England.  Two days before that a man opened fire on a baseball practice for the Republican team preparing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game.

Several people were injured, including majority whip Steve Scalise, whose health is improving but is still in serious condition.  Ironically, if Scalise hadn’t been there things could have been even worse.  Most members of congress don’t have security details but Scalise does as a high ranking member.  It was two members of Capitol Police assigned to Scalise’s detail who were the first on the scene and subdued the shooter.  In another twist, the officers, David Bailey and Crystal Griner, both black and the former a gay woman, were shot while defending the people who have been relentlessly trying to reduce the rights and protections of women, African-Americans, and LGBTQ people from a Bernie Sanders supporter with a gun.

I can’t say that all our countries problems will go away with just a little romance between two hormonal youths, but I can say that those problems can be fought and it will take more than a little courage.  It will take the courage of people willing to risk their lives for others, perhaps, but also the courage to stand together in peace, the courage to be kind and to speak up for people who can’t speak for themselves or won’t be heard when they do, and the courage to love each other even when the world wants us to feud.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  I would add that fear cannot drive out terror, only courage can do that.

What would Andy do?

I imagine that Andy Taylor would have all the right words to bring the country together.  All I have to offer are these two that have quickly become running themes on this blog: courage and compassion.

How do you think Andy compares to Friar Laurence?  Was postponing the nuptials until after the feud ended the right move?  Do you think it’s possible to reverse or reduce political polarization?

Opie’s Charity

Just eight episodes in The Andy Griffith Show is already toying with its soon-to-be-famous structure.  Andy tries to teach Opie a lesson about charity but the tables are turned  and the master learns from the student instead.  The episode begins with the time honored tradition of father and son throwing the ball around on the sidewalk as Andy helps OpieNeogriffithism 1.08 the pitch fine tune his pitching skills.  They are interrupted by a “widow” named Annabelle Silby,  who wants to talk to Andy about a charity drive for underprivileged children.  In the course of the conversation it comes out that when donations were collected at the school Opie only gave three cents, the least of any student who wasn’t himself an underprivileged child.

When Andy learns of Opie’s penny pinching he becomes the angriest we’ve ever seen him.  Opie explains that he’s saving money to buy a gift for his girlfriend, Charlotte.  That’s not a good enough justification for Andy, who only becomes worried that his son is falling prey to the wiles of women at a distressingly young age on top of his supposed stinginess.

In between lecturing his son Andy comes face to face with a dead man.  Annabelle’s husband Tom shows up on the doorstep of the Sheriff’s office apparently unaware that he’s meant to be dead.  It turns out that the lovebirds had a fight some time ago and Tom took off for Charlottesville, alive and kicking.  Annabelle was so embarrassed that she covered up her husband leaving her by pretending that he died in a car accident while on a trip. Neogriffithism 1.08 Tom's grave Andy is left with the odd task of informing Tom that the whole town thinks he’s dead so he shows the man his grave site.  Andy then uses some of the skills he learned as a matchmaker in the previous episode and reunites the couple, who settle into a new life of domestic bliss now that Tom is sober and Annabelle has let go of some of her pride.

That evening Andy continues his lecture to Opie about not giving enough to charity.  After he sends the boy to his room without supper it’s Aunt Bee’s turn to do a bit of lecturing.  She scolds Andy for his lack of faith in his own son.  Andy admits that he’s been too hard on the boy and has allowed his pride to get the better of him, not unlike a certain Silby.  He takes back his punishment and calls Opie back doNeogriffithism 1.08 eating crowwn for dinner, where he finally asks what exactly the he was planning to buy for the mysterious Charlotte.  Opie explains that he intended to buy a coat for the girl whose family is too poor to buy one for her, leaving Andy deeply embarrassed.

Sidenotes

  • Presumably Tom went to Charlottesville, Viriginia but it also seems possible that “Charlottesville” is a Mayberry colloquialism for Charlotte, North Carolina since it is repeatedly said that he “went down to” there and Virginia is north of Mayberry.
  • This is the first episode without Don Knotts as Barney Fife, which is interesting because the previous episode, “Andy the Matchmaker,” was the first Barney-centric story.
  • Andy says there are 400 needy boys in the county and there is apparently at least one needy girl.  For a utopia where nothing bad ever happens Mayberry sure has a lot of poverty.

The Moral of the Story

This episode directly confronts one of the seven deadly sins: pride, specifically, that of Andy and Annabelle Silby.  However, pride can be a vice or a virtue.  As we’ve seen in two episodes so far, less than halfway through the first season, a certain amount of self-esteem is necessary for living a fruitful life.  Jim Lindsey lacked confidence in his guitar playing skills and it stopped him from pursuing his dream.  Barney was ashamed that he had never caught a criminal and it held him back from asking Miss Rosemary for a date. Aristotle spoke of the “Golden Mean,” the idea that moral rightness lies between extremes.  Somewhere between Jim and Barney’s bashfulness and the vanity of Annabelle and Andy is the right kind of pride.

So, at what point does pride become a vice?  Where do Annabelle and Andy go too far?  It would seem, based on this episode, that pride becomes a problem when it gets in the way of the truth.  Annabelle pulls the wool over the eyes of the entire town about her husband’s death.  Andy is so blinded by other people’s perceptions that he can’t see his son’s good intentions and doesn’t bother to ask.  It’s just as important to be honest about one’s faults and challenges as it is to take confidence in one’s accomplishments.

Modern Mayberry

As politics becomes increasingly polarized partisans are becoming increasingly reliant on giving the appearance of being right rather than honestly addressing their own faults and the flaws in their ideals.  The ugliness in our current political discourse was addressed by Megyn Kelly in the recent debut of her news magazine series on NBC, Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly (around the thirty-nine minute mark), before showing clips of bickering pundits on cable news intermixed with clips of children discussing good manners.  However, she neglected to mention that her previous job was as a host on the notoriously extremist cable news network Fox News.  She didn’t even spare an “I’ve been guilty of this as well” or as much as a “myself included.”  Of course, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show could be counted on to provide their own clips of Megyn stoking the partisan flames in her past life.  Perhaps Megyn really is sorry for her past behavior and the segment was her way of expressing regret, but by pushing the blame onto others without acknowledging her own failings it just seems like she’s too proud to admit her faults, or in other words, it seems like she’s a big hypocrite.

Meanwhile, renowned religious scholar Reza Aslan apologized for calling President Donald a “piece of [feces],” an insulting tweet that got him fired from his job hosting CNN’s documentary series Believer.  To be fair, the profanity was in response to Donald insisting on the need for his “travel ban” in the aftermath of a terrorist attack in London, the same ban that would forbid immigration from Reza’s nation of birth, Iran, and specifically targets the Islamic faith, the religion that Reza practices.  His anger is certainly understandable, but I can’t possibly condone such unMayberryesque language.  To his credit, Reza tweeted an apology and a statement on the show’s cancellation.  In the statement he acknowledged his wrongdoing but also expressed satisfaction with the show’s success, thus displaying pride’s golden mean in action; regret for shortcomings but honor in accomplishments.

 

 

What would Andy do?

Despite his behavior in this episode, Andy is by and large a very humble man.  He quickly relented when Aunt Bee called him out on his behavior.  He might be reluctant at first but he is always willing to admit his mistakes when he knows he’s made them.

How do you think Andy should have reacted when he heard about Opie giving so little in the charity drive?  Do you think those kooky lovebirds Tom and Annabelle are going to make it?  Should they?  Who are some other members of the news media who have shown humility?  Who could show more?