One of the most successful series of the 1960’s, The Andy Griffith Show was a situational comedy which followed the line of what has become to be known as the rural revolution of the American television shows.
This rural revolution can be described as a return to the golden age, when the action took place in bucolic settings and the characters outsmarted all the out-of-towners with their unpretentious folk wisdom. In other words, The Andy Griffith Show didn’t debate any important social aspects, being a rather light-hearted comedy populated with rural archetypes.
A part of the realism of The Andy Griffith Show also came from the small town where the action took place, the town of Mayberry. While it was a fictional place, it was based on Andy Griffith’s hometown, Mt. Airy. And this is an important aspect which needs to be taken into consideration, especially if we are considering the rural revolution.
The characters in themselves are, as said, paradigms which can be met any small town: an easygoing lawman, a self-important deputy, a gossiping barber, the anxious spinster, and so on. These are all real characters, these are all real people that can be met in any part of the rural America, even nowadays.
But the aim was not just to place these typologies in a sitcom and debate whatever was happening in the bigger world at the moment. Instead, this rural revolution was meant to inspire people and to send a feel of nostalgia: the most important values a man can learn are still the ones taught in the smaller communities.
Thus, while almost actively refusing to discuss the hot topics of the moment, The Andy Griffith Show talked about family, the relations between people, and about child rearing. Most importantly, The Andy Griffith Show talked about the values of the smaller communities.
The characters are all defined by their naivety, although they do have the wisdom to overcome any situation there are faced with. But still…
Still this is exactly what leads to the end of this rural revolution and the beginning of the rural purge: The Andy Griffith Show was canceled after 8 seasons because the universe it described was too little and too secluded. It was self-sufficient and not taking into consideration the bigger problems with which America was confronted (such as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement and so on).
The small town of Mayberry was becoming even smaller and its problems too insignificant. After 8 seasons, The Andy Griffith Show was canceled and the rural revolution ended.