This article examines The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960–68) within the context of civil rights news reporting and articulates how the sitcom used humor to reenvision and rehabilitate the South in its safer white image. By 1960, due to civil rights news coverage, racism could be visually conjured by a set of physical attributes—the burly southern sheriff or the redneck. By contrast, the trim, handsome, and pacifistic Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) as sheriff with his comically inept deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) presented a new, more tolerant South. With Andy at its helm, Andy Griffith's comic and gentle South soothed widespread anxiety about a rapidly changing America as it also reimagined a white rural South as a palliative for the white racist South appearing on the news. Because of its incredible success, Andy Griffith provides a sustained example of how race and region became uncontroversial and profitable at the most unlikely time.
Research Article|September 01 2015
Phoebe Bronstein; Comic Relief: The Andy Griffith Show, White Southern Sheriffs, and Regional Rehabilitation. Camera Obscura 1 September 2015; 30 (2 (89)): 125–155. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-3078347
Download citation file: