‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard Said Treatment of Side Characters Proved Show Was About ‘Acceptance’

by Clayton Edwards

The Andy Griffith Show was a titan of television. To this day, the show is loved by people around the world. Several things went into making the series what it was. First and foremost was the comedy team of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. Both men were hilarious in their own right. However, the way they worked off of one another elevated both of them. Then, there was the fact that the show was a throwback to simpler times. When the series premiered in 1960, things were chaotic in the United States. Watching the show was like taking a trip back in time to when things were simpler. So, audiences traveled to Mayberry whenever possible. Finally, there were the side characters. The citizens of Mayberry added color to an already entertaining tapestry that was The Andy Griffith Show.

Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Jim Nabors have all passed on. However, in 2003 they got together with fellow Andy Griffith Show co-star Ron Howard for a 50th-anniversary reunion called Back to Mayberry. During that reunion, they took a moment to talk about the side characters and what they added to the show.

How The Andy Griffith Show Was About Acceptance

Ron Howard said that the way some characters were treated showed the spirit of The Andy Griffith Show. “Whether it was conscious or not, somehow you guys decided that the whole show was kind of about acceptance.” He went on to use Otis, the town drunk, as an example. “Here was Otis, not much good to anybody. Except, somehow, he was part of the family. You’d tolerate him because he wasn’t hurting anybody.”

Another character that showed the acceptance of The Andy Griffith Show was Ernest T. Bass. He was the antithesis to everything that Mayberry was. He was a wild mountain man who regularly threw rocks through windows and escaped Andy’s jail. However, he was part of the family. During the reunion, Andy noted that Ernest was only in a handful of episodes but felt like a much bigger part of the show.

The Andy Griffith Show cast agreed that their favorite side character was Floyd the Barber. Ron Howard said that when people gathered around Floyd’s barber’s chair, wonderful scenes would just unfold from the dialog. Don Knotts said that Howard McNear, the man behind Floyd, was the funniest man alive. Andy agreed, noting that it was like he didn’t even have to try. He was just naturally funny. Those are big compliments coming from Griffith and Knotts.

The Andy Griffith Show made all of its characters feel like part of the family. In much the same way, it still makes its viewers feel like citizens of Mayberry. This is why it’s still so well-loved today.