The Andy Griffith Show remains one of the most iconic television programs in history, but the series had some incredibly dated elements that wouldn’t hold up to today’s increased scrutiny if the show was new. Join Facts Verse as we explore Andy Griffith Show jokes that aged poorly.
The Andy Griffith Show aired during the 1960s, and that was a time when the world’s values were a little different than they are today. Although peoples’ hearts were generally in the right place, there were many prejudices and negative perceptions in society. When it came to The Andy Griffith Show, most of these prejudices involved women.
The Andy Griffith Show followed the exploits of Sheriff Andy Taylor, portrayed by Andy Griffith. Andy was a single father to his son, Opie, who was portrayed by a very young Ron Howard. Another’s of the show’s most important cast members was Don Knotts, who portrayed the character of Barney Fife. The Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1960s, alongside such other classic shows as Bewitched and Gilligan’s Island.
The more problematic elements of The Andy Griffith Show fit right in amongst other comedies of the time. However, they stand out compared to today’s more progressive material. Many of the problematic elements of The Andy Griffith Show involved negative gender stereotypes. These were present at the beginning of the show all the way until it’s end.
In the first season episode “Ellie for Council”, the plot revolved around the idea of how strange it was for a woman to run for local government. Of course, the episode centered on the character of Ellie running for the city council of the show’s iconic location: Mayberry. When Ellie started gaining some traction with the women voters in the town, the men of Mayberry didn’t take kindly to the prospect of having a woman on the city council. The men of Mayberry ended up coming up with a plot to sabotage Ellie, but the women of Mayberry flipped the tables with a plot of their own.
Despite the fact that the men of Mayberry were depicted to be in the wrong during the episode, it’s still odd that such a big deal was made about a woman being on the city council in the first place. These types of gender conflicts would go on to define much of the humor of The Andy Griffith Show. The character of Ellie had previously been introduced in another season one episode that explored a similar concept.
The episode that introduced the character of Ellie to The Andy Griffith Show’s audience was called “Ellie Comes to Town”. The episode revolved around Ellie coming to the town of Mayberry in order to fill in for her sick uncle. Her uncle was the town’s pharmacist, meaning that Ellie had to step up and perform the same role for the people of Mayberry. Given that Ellie was an actual pharmacist, this proved easy for her to do. However, the men of Mayberry had a hard time accepting the notion of a female pharmacist. They discriminately referred to her as “PhG”, which was a name they came up with that meant “Pharmacy Girl”.
As with the episode where Ellie was trying to get on the city council, things turned out for Ellie, and the men of Mayberry were forced to learn their lesson. However, that still doesn’t make it any less strange that the idea of a female pharmacist was such a bizarre concept that it was enough to base a whole television episode around. In some ways, the series can be seen as having helped challenge gender stereotypes for it’s audience. In other ways, it stands as an odd time capsule that showcases the prejudices of people at the time.
After the introduction of Ellie came the season two introduction of Ellen. Ellen was introduced in the episode “The Manicurist”, serving as the episode’s titular manicurist. The episode focused around two major conflicts, with those being that the men of Mayberry were confused by the concept of a manicurist, and that they ended up becoming too attracted to the town’s new manicurist due to her physical attributes. The men were initially skeptical, claiming that the town of Mayberry didn’t need a manicurist. However, they were eventually won over by the fact that they found Ellen to be attractive. Of course, the idea of a manicurist isn’t nearly as strange today as it was back then. Conversely, the idea of gawking at a manicurist is a good deal more strange than it was back when The Andy Griffith Show first aired.
These certainly aren’t the only problematic issues to have reared their heads on The Andy Griffith Show during it’s run! If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
The Andy Griffith Show certainly got a lot of comedic leverage out of how hilarious it was to think about women doing anything besides cooking and cleaning. This kind of humor could be seen throughout the show’s many seasons, including in the season seven episode “Helen, the Authoress”. By that point in the series, the character of Helen had come onto the show as single father Andy’s main squeeze. The conflict of the episode revolved around Helen authoring a children’s book that wound up getting accepted for publication. While Andy arguably should’ve been happy about his new beau finding the success she desired, he was instead jealous that a woman, especially his woman, was going to become more of a notable name than he was.
Prior to Helen’s introduction, a big part of The Andy Griffith Show had been Andy sorting through the assortment of women in Mayberry and trying to find a wife for himself. The quest for Andy to find a wife came to a head in the season three episode “A Wife for Andy”, where Barney Fife gathered up all the single women in Mayberry and took them to Andy’s house to parade them in front of him. Andy seemed disinterested in the all of the women who were brought to his attention. However, that changed when Helen showed up.
While the idea of a bunch of random women being paraded in front of a single man for him to choose from may be problematic enough in it’s own right for modern audiences, things got even worse once Andy made the decision that Helen was the woman that he wanted. You see, Barney had been looking for an acceptable wife for Andy, and Helen didn’t meet the requirements because she wasn’t willing to give up working after marrying Andy. Helen was a schoolteacher, and her profession was important to her.
Despite Barney’s initial objections to Helen as a match for Andy, she ended up proving herself to be the ideal partner for the single sheriff. Andy and Helen went on to become an item, and eventually got married. Oddly, the quest for Andy to find a wife wasn’t the only marriage quest that made it into plot of an episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
Previously, a season two episode by the name of “The Farmer Takes a Wife” had found the characters of Andy and Barney being forced to find a wife for someone else. That someone else was a farmer by the name of Jeff Pruitt, who occupied the neighboring hills of Mayberry. Beyond the general problematic plot, Jeff’s advice to Andy and Barney when picking out a wife for him may turn some heads today. According to Jeff, he wanted Andy and Barney to find him a wife that was “ladylike”, meaning “soft and squishy”.
Going back to season one of The Andy Griffith Show, another plot involving the character of Ellie found her tasked with giving a makeover to a farmer’s daughter. The daughter was the farmer’s only child, and his only helping hand on his farm. This lifestyle led the young girl to become a tomboy, which was something that manicurist Ellie had to fix. She offered her services in giving the young girl a makeover, though her farmer father didn’t take too kindly to this.
While there isn’t much wrong with the basic concept of a young tomboy girl getting a makeover, the more problematic elements of this storyline reared their heads when Andy came onto the scene to convince this farmer that his daughter getting a makeover wasn’t such a bad thing. According to Andy, his daughter becoming attractive could land her a mate, and that mate could turn out to be a much better helping hand on the farm than she was! When the farmer saw things this way, he became fairly open to the idea of luring a male worker onto the farm with his daughter.
Another episode of The Andy Griffith Show that focused on gender stereotypes was season two’s “The Perfect Female”. This episode focused on Barney’s girlfriend setting Andy up with her cousin, whose name was Karen. Andy and Karen seemed to have a lot in common, with both having a strong penchant for skeet shooting. Of course, this led to the two competing against each other in a skeet shooting competition. Given that Andy was a man, he believed that he was going to wipe the floor with his female competition. However, Andy didn’t plan for the fact that Karen was a much better skeet shooter than he was. Karen ended up winning the competition, and Andy was once again forced to accept that maybe women are capable of doing things.
These aforementioned elements certainly weren’t the only problematic parts of The Andy Griffith Show! Comment down below to share if there are any jokes that you think should’ve been included in this video, or if you were surprised to look back on the show with our culture’s new critical eye. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!