I was flipping through Netflix the other day as I usually am when I'm bored and in between video game sessions, when I came across a childhood favorite: The Andy Griffith Show. After explaining to my wife what it was since she hadn't seen it, we watched the pilot episode and found ourselves laughing harder than we had at anything made in the last 10 years in a while.
Plot wise there's barely anything to describe: We follow the adventures of a small town Southern sheriff as he polices Mayberry, the ideal American suburb, and the wacky characters he interacts with on a daily basis. That's it, seriously, if you haven't watched this show that's the main concept. There was no big drama, no wacky mismatch of lifestyles like the Munsters or the usual 50's style dig at show-business like I Love Lucy, it was just a show about a small town.
I realized as I went back to the Netflix menu that the show seemed so out of place next to my usual viewing habits. The Andy Griffith Show just isn't like BoJack Horseman, Family Guy, Supernatural, or that one weird alien show I turned on the day I wanted to take a nap and wanted some noise in the background. Here we have a show made 60+ years ago, has no sexual innuendo and the closest thing to violence is when the deputy's gun goes off accidentally, and yet it's better written than most anything else on TV.
I have a theory: As TV evolved more complex storylines and deeper characters were demanded. This demand just kept growing and growing until we reached the point where if you miss one episode of any given show you may as well just give up because without that one piece of context you're going to be lost for the rest of the season. I feel the same concept happened with violence and sexual content, to where we have simultaneously reached a point where most shows have to have one character like Quagmire who's entire purpose in life is to be as inappropriate as possible.
Funnily enough, the Andy Griffith Show reminds me a lot of one modern show, The Walking Dead, mostly because both main characters are soft spoken Southern police officers, but also because for the most part the plots are about how different people get along, albeit one in a far more extreme circumstance (I wonder what Aunt Bea would do during a zombie apocalypse? Probably make them fried chicken...). Why can't we have more shows like that? More shows where it's just about a place and how the people in it interact, but without the sex and violence that give even a jaded childless adult the urge to cover the nearest minor's eyes?
In the end I'm probably part of the real problem. Several paragraphs ago I admitted to having the same trash TV I'm now railing against prominently on my "Recently Watched By Joe" Netflix list, with a long list stacking up behind that. The networks will duplicate what sells, and if that's cartoons made by Seth McFarland
or zombie apocalypse slaughterfests it's because we watch them.
Meh, enough complaining, I'm turning on Andy.
What's your favorite classic TV show?