The 1960s brought us some of the most iconic television sitcoms of all time, including Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Andy Griffith Show. The shows were comical, but they also introduced ideas that were ahead of their time. However, in other ways, the series show their age with jokes that haven’t aged well over the years.
Regarding The Andy Griffith Show, it’s a beloved classic and people still watch it any chance they get. They love the hilarious antics of Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and Barney Fife (Don Knotts). The show has clever lines, but some jokes and storylines, including these 10, wouldn’t be acceptable for today’s audiences.
A Woman Writer
Many issues of The Andy Griffith Show involve gender roles and stereotypes. In the season seven episode “Helen, the Authoress,” Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), Andy’s longtime girlfriend and now fiancé, writes a children’s book that is accepted for publication. While this is great news, Andy isn’t too thrilled by it.
In fact, Andy gets jealous that his fiancé — a woman — might be famous and successful. He feels like a third wheel. The townsfolk of Mayberry, North Carolina, begin to congratulate Andy and say he will lead a life of leisure because he will be married to a famous author. Eventually, Andy begins to bristle at the idea of being a “kept man.”
Comments About Women
In the season two episode “The Farmer Takes a Wife,” a farmer from the neighboring hills, Jeff Pruitt (Alan Hale Jr.) visits Mayberry to find a suitable wife. He wants a woman who is different from the women he meets on the farm. He enlists Barney and Andy’s help, but he’s very particular about the type of woman he wants.
He says, “For marrying, a fella wants a female type. You know, kind of soft and squishy like.” He figures the best place to find a woman like that is in Mayberry. This might have been a funny joke in the 1960s but describing women as “soft and squishy” wouldn’t be acceptable in 2020.
A “Cinderella” Moment
In the season one episode “Ellie Saves a Female,” the daughter of a local farmer admires the make-up and perfume inside Ellie Walker’s (Elinor Donohue) drugstore. She’s a tomboy and she’s the only help her father has on his farm.
Ellie takes pity on this girl and gives her a “Cinderella” makeover, despite Andy’s warning that she’s butting in. However, after the girl is all “made up,” her father doesn’t approve. Andy finally tells him that he’s not utilizing his daughter to her full potential. If the daughter gets married, he would have a son-in-law to help on the farm. This is a typical 1960s situation, isn’t it?
A Sporty Woman
Women can be strong and athletic, but that wasn’t the stereotype in the 1960s. In the season two episode “The Perfect Female,” Barney’s longtime girlfriend, Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), brings her cousin, Karen, to town. Together, Barney and Thelma Lou decide to play matchmaker for Andy and Karen.
The two seem to have a lot in common, including shooting, music, and singing. Barney tells Thelma Lou that Andy has “checked Karen out” and he makes it sound like she’s something to be purchased. Thinking Andy is crude, Karen joins him in a skeet shooting competition. He’s going to show off. Before Karen’s turn, Andy says to her, “Don’t make a fool out of yourself.” He doesn’t know that Karen is a champion skeet shooter and she quickly puts him in his place.
Throughout the seasons of The Andy Griffith Show, Barney is always trying to set Andy up with an eligible woman. In the season three episode “A Wife for Andy,” Barney gathers every eligible woman in town at Andy’s house. He shows them off, like they are prizes. Andy wants nothing to do with them, until he meets Helen.
Andy and Helen become an item, but Barney isn’t too keen on the relationship. For one thing, he questions how Helen will be a good wife for Andy when she doesn’t know how to cook and she still works as a teacher. Barney tells her she will have to stop working once she gets married, but she rejects this notion. Barney decides he’ll have to keep looking for another woman for Andy, even though Helen is the perfect match for the sheriff.
In the season seven episode “A New Doctor in Town,” there’s a new young, attractive doctor (William Christopher) in Mayberry. Many of the townspeople don’t trust him simply because he’s young, which isn’t very fair. This is a classic example of age discrimination that wouldn’t be a joke in today’s television.
At first, Andy supports the new doctor. But when Andy’s son, Opie (Ron Howard), needs his tonsils removed, Andy is suddenly hesitant about trusting the young doctor. Of course, the doctor performs a successful surgery, but the people of Mayberry should have trusted him to begin with.
In the season one episode “Irresistible Andy,” Andy invites Ellie to the annual church picnic. However, he begins to wonder if she is thinking of marriage. He makes an elaborate speech about how Ellie is using this picnic to trap him. To solve the problem, he arranges for three of Mayberry’s most eligible bachelors to be interested in Ellie.
The joke that a woman is trying to “trap a man” hasn’t aged well over the years. Once Ellie learns about Andy’s plans, she tells him off. Luckily, Andy later realizes his poor judgment and choice of words and tries to make things right.
A Female Manicurist
In the season two episode “The Manicurist,” an attractive young manicurist, Ellen Brown (Barbara Eden), starts working at Floyd’s Barbershop. When she arrives, all of the men are gawking at her from the window, which isn’t very appropriate. However, when they find out she is a manicurist, they’re not keen on the idea. The men in the town don’t have a need for a manicure, but what about the women?
Andy teases Ellen, saying he knew she wouldn’t last in Mayberry. The men eventually warm up to Ellen, but they seem more interested in her beauty. This doesn’t make their wives too thrilled.
A Lady Druggist
Can you imagine a time period in which women were laughed at for having jobs in a male-dominated profession? In the season one episode “Ellie Comes to Town,” Ellie arrives in Mayberry to work at her uncle’s drugstore while he’s ill. She’s a pharmacist, but the men don’t take her seriously. Andy says she has a “PhG,” also known as a “Pharmacy Gal.”
People don’t trust Ellie, the “lady druggist.” This is a classic example of sexism and gender discrimination. Ellie was a qualified pharmacist, but because she was a woman, she was viewed differently.
Battle Of The Sexes
It seems the women of Mayberry faced gender discrimination several times on The Andy Griffith Show. In the season one episode “Ellie for Council,” Ellie decides she wants to become the first woman to run for a seat on the Mayberry city council. Of course, the men don’t approve of this and they try to sabotage her campaign.
The men come up with a plan to force their wives to give up their support for Ellie. But the women have their own plan, resulting in a battle of the sexes. This storyline wouldn’t work in 2020, as many women serve on city councils.