I sometimes wonder which Andy Griffith Show character(s) would have made the best reality show? Now mind you, I am not a fan of reality TV…quite the opposite. I think the networks got lazy and hit on a formula that brings them huge numbers of viewers and revenue with very little investment of time, money or creativity. But that’s another topic for another day.
Let’s pretend the networks are sending their producers to Mayberry looking for the next reality TV star. Remember, we are talking about the show character and not the actor/actress themselves.
My first, thought is that Gomer would be that person. But, since he kind of went on to his own reality show with Gomer Pyle USMC, I am going to take him out of the discussion here. I am also going to take Andy and Barney out of the discussion as well since the show was predominantly centered on them and their reality shows would have pretty much just been the show itself.
Right now, there is a fascination with southerners in the reality TV world. Shows like Honey Boo Boo, Hillbilly Hand Fishing, Duck Dynasty and Moonshiners are all very successful and feature “quirky” folks from the south. If that’s a winning formula for a reality TV show, then Mayberry would have been a gold mine for producers. Quirky southerners? Where do you start?
First, can you imagine a TV show based on Otis Campbell? Otis is a party waiting to happen every night and all shows would end the same way…at cell number 2 at the Mayberry jail. Plus, we’d finally find out where he’s getting the “hooch” from!
The Darlings would have been the perfect family for reality TV. Imagine Briscoe Darling as the patriarch of the family and then having story lines involving Charlene, her wandering eye, and her rocky marriage to Dud. Then you could combine reality TV shows and have “the boys” as contestants on American Idol. Maybe even have Rafe Hollister be their lead vocal? I’d watch that in a heartbeat!
Finally on the quirky southerner theme, you can’t leave out maybe the best potential reality TV star…Earnest T. Bass. It would be great theater to have the cameras follow him back in the hills to his lair. Where does he get his rocks? Does he practice his throwing? Does he ever hook up with his beloved Romena? Does he put his Mayberry grade school diploma to good use? Does he ever make it into military service? Or at the very least, what does he do with Barney’s uniform? Heck, I just outlined the first season alone.
Another popular theme among reality TV shows is following the wild life styles of the modern girl. Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie and the Kardashians have made careers out of this formula without brains or an ounce of talent. I won’t even mention the whole “Girls Gone Wild” thing.
First off, I thought of Aunt Bee and her best friend Clara Johnson. Watching them make pies and can pickles, all the while keeping us up to date on the latest gossip in Mayberry would be pretty riveting stuff. But, knowing today’s younger audience, I don’t think it would have enough “wow factor” or “shock value.” Aunt Bee and Clara would probably have to resort to committing crimes to hold the audience’s attention.
Then, I remembered that Mayberry (or was it Mount Pilot?) had the original “Girls Gone Wild”…Daphne and Skippy. You know, “the Fun Girls.” I could see a show that follows them on their trips to the beauty parlor to get their platinum blonde dye jobs…or, their nightly conquests at the local dance halls. Daphne’s throaty voice and Skippy’s over-the-top laugh would have made them overnight sensations. They even have the name of the show all figured out…The Fun Girls! I could sell that to a network in no time.