The Moral Stance Of The Sitcom

TV shows, sitcoms included, are a reflection – whether more or less accurate, this is still up for debate – of the values cultivated by the society they address to. They reflect, but they also educate, reinforcing and validating whatever values they capitalize on in order to appeal to the public.

The Andy Griffith Show, ever so popular back in the ’60s, is the perfect example of entertainment program that builds humor without resorting to flawed or immoral characters, sordid situations, embarrassment or taboos.

It exudes decency, and, in its decency, even the clumsy Barney Fife and the inebriate Otis Campbell become picturesque characters that tone up the plot of the episodes they appear in or come as a pretext to reaffirm a value with twofold strength.

Some might profess morality is self-standing. Others believe morality is grounded in religion. The Andy Griffith Show subscribes to the second view, given the biblical symbolism and the religious content of certain scenes.

Opie prays in the very first episode, an endearing scene of intense candidness that teaches viewers conversations to God are – and if not, they should become – part of the daily routine. On Sundays, no one works in Mayberry, in a sign of respect to traditional practices of biblical inspiration. The “Man in a Hurry” episode is relevant to that, in particular the “cross on the door” scene.

A whole battery of Christian values is deployed along the series. Almost each episode is a thirty minute lesson about timeless merits: kindness, unselfishness, willingness to help others, patience, gratitude, respect of tradition.

I hope I am not reading too much into this. And that is because, after all, its popularity did not confine to viewers with religious – i.e. Christian – beliefs. It was a sitcom, like any typical sitcom, designed to entertain. But it could not have attained its popularity with the public, and the public could not have been entertained by it, if it didn’t extract its plot from what the public related to back in the ’60s.

And times were, indeed, different in the mid-20th century. Plus, the Andy Griffith Show was, time and again, used by Christian communities in order to educate the young into the spirit of their morals.

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