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 Opie 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. 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 down 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.
- 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.
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.
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) June 4, 2017
— Reza Aslan (@rezaaslan) June 9, 2017
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.