The Andy Griffith Show still remains one of the most important and influential shows in TV comedy history. One of the many elements that made it unique was that none of the characters had a “traditional” family.
In a Television Academy interview with Ron Howard, the Opie actor talked about how family meant something different on the show.
“None of the characters in the show have a traditional family. Andy’s wife passed away, which is what is dealt with in that Danny Thomas pilot. A new family is constructed because Andy’s aunt Bea comes and assumes the role of, you know, sort of the mother of the household.”
But Andy was far from the only one to have a non-traditional family.
“Don Knotts [plays] a Bachelor,” he said. “The other characters are bachelors. Otis the drunk has a wife, but you never see her[…] there are friends of aunt Bea’s who refer to their husbands, but you don’t ever see them.”
The Andy Griffith show may be known as a staple of its time, but in ways, it seems to have been ahead of it.
“Ironically,” he said, “It’s thought of one of the ultimate family shows, but what it’s really saying is that a community can be a family. The town of Mayberry is a big family. You know, there’s never ever been a show like it. I think it’s one of the reasons it’s still on the air and still has a following.”
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Was a Major Success
Wholesome messages like the one mentioned by Ron Howard are just what made The Andy Griffith Show so successful. Its good humor and quaint charm painted an often idyllic picture of life, even if it wasn’t traditional. It has maintained that infamy and success over the decades. The Rolling Stone recently ranked The Andy Griffith Show #14 on its 100 Best Sitcoms of All Time list.
And according to Howard, it’s all thanks to Griffith. Howard told Entertainment Tonight in a 2012 interview that he felt that Griffith was the “architect” of the show. Griffith wasn’t the producer of the show or the creator, but he still had a major role.
In fact, the writer’s room learned to capture Andy’s morals, dialogues, and attitudes as the show progressed. Howard felt like The Andy Griffith Show was in “Andy’s voice” even though Griffith wasn’t in the writer’s room. For many, Griffith was the key to the show’s success.