Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Mayberry Felt Like a Real Southern Town

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Mayberry Felt Like a Real Southern Town

When working on The Andy Griffith Show, it was important to Andy Griffith that Mayberry actually reflect some Southern charm. Griffith himself was a native of North Carolina. So he had some personal experience about living in a town reflective of Southern good graces.

Mayberry, in its make-believe status, did have a number of Southern elements with it. That’s not surprising due to Griffith and, to some extent, Don Knotts offering input to scripts. One thing a lot of people may not realize is that Griffith was raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina. That, of course, means he grew up around manners and the like.

Giving the city of Mayberry some solid qualities fell into the laps of the show’s writers. Yet Griffith had input on how the scripts were created. Craig Fincannon said that he could definitely appreciate Griffith’s efforts. Fincannon hailed from North Carolina and was a casting director.

According to MeTV, Fincannon met Griffith in 1974. At the time, in an article in the National Post, Fincannon said, “I see so many TV shows about the South where the creative powers behind it have no life experience in the South. What made The Andy Griffith Show work was Andy Griffith himself — the fact that he was of this dirt and had such deep respect for the people and places of his childhood.”

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Had Characters With Moral Base About Them

He went on to explain further. “A character might be broadly eccentric, but the character had an ethical and moral base that allowed us to laugh with them and not at them. And Andy Griffith’s the reason for that.”

There were a number of characters who had life troubles that made people look down upon them. One fine example is Otis Campbell, played by Hal Smith. If you’ve seen the show a few times, then you know Otis has a bit of a drinking problem. Once he’s dabbled in the moonshine, well, it’s nighty-night time for our friend. But Andy and Barney will look to him to help them out in a pinch. Despite his meanderings, Otis knows that doing the sheriff a favor can go a long way to easing his situation.

Then you had Ernest T. Bass, played by Howard Morris. He is one squirrely man who comes down from the mountains. Bass, who actually makes just a few appearances on The Andy Griffith Show, just doesn’t have good social graces. But Andy and Barney will almost go out of their way to help him out. Remember when he wanted a girl? How about a diploma from school? The sheriff and his deputy worked overtime to support Ernest T. Talk about some Sothern charm and good graces!

Richard Kelly’s fine book The Andy Griffith Show offers up these comments on the situation. He opines about Griffith and Knotts’ work on scripts. “Andy was a great one for calling the writers when they had written something that didn’t ring true,” Kelly said. “He would say, ‘I have an uncle in North Carolina who’s just like this guy and he wouldn’t say that.’ ‘Well, what would he say?’ He’d tell them and they’d write it down.”