Andy Griffith Once Opened Up About the Rural Purge

by Allison Hambrick

American television icon Andy Griffith discussed why rural shows became less common on television. In an appearance on the Morning Exchange, he shared his thoughts on why that occurred and why it maybe shouldn’t have.

“The powers that be at CBS two years ago decided that there should be no more rural shows on television,” said Griffith. “If you’re saying that there are differences in us and that we all don’t come from a city and that we all don’t come from the same ethnic background, I agree. I think we do need rural humor. It’s always been around and it always will be around.”

Additionally, Griffith shared his two cents on why CBS cut the rural shows. Programs like The Andy Griffith Show were no longer in production at the time of the interview. Griffith felt this was an attempt to make less “lowbrow” content. For his part, Griffith disagrees with the network.

“One of the things they believe is that Small Town U.S.A. is dying and disappearing from our country,” the actor explained. “They believe that television audiences are too sophisticated for the fact that they have watched television for a long time to be able to buy or even enjoy entertainment that such as Petticoat Junction or Beverly Hillbillies or our show.”

In Griffith’s line of thinking, a well-written show that reflects real life is what audiences want.

Additionally, he thinks that The Andy Griffith Show succeeded at that. It blended rural humor with good writing. Even audiences from other places could enjoy the comedy.

Andy Griffith Talks Best Episode of His Show

“I can’t say so much for Petticoat Junction or Beverly Hillbillies or even Hee Haw,” Griffith stated. “But our show I always felt fit into a special category because of the splendid writing that we had. We had the best comedy writing at that time. The writer’s guild [has] a writer’s dinner every year in which they give out their own awards to their own people. Our show, that is, the writing on our show, got the award. One year, we had two scripts up for that award, so I always thought our show was a little special that way.”

When discussing the quality of writing, Griffith saw one episode rising above the rest. The award-winning show was called “Barney’s First Car.”

“Barney was going to buy a used car for his first car,” the actor continued. “Not to put him down, but it was a 52 Ford. One of the jokes we had I was sitting on the porch, and this lady was going to bring the car over for Barney to look at. He was pacing back and forth, and I said ‘sit down, Barney, she’ll be here in a minute.’ He finally sat down and said ‘I’m sorry. I’m a little nervous. He said ‘ this is my biggest investment since my mom and dad’s anniversary.’ I said ‘what did you get them?’ and he said ‘a septic tank.’ I sat for a long time and then finally I said ‘a septic tank.’ He said ‘yeah, it was all steel reinforced, they were really thrilled.'”

To Griffith, those moments of “insanity” were what made The Andy Griffith Show a hit with fans from all walks of life.