MarketWatch First Take
Andy Griffith: Americana's anti-Don Draper7/3/12 12:29 PM ET (MarketWatch)Print
Ron Howard (l) and Andy Griffith
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Andy Griffith stood for something special during the 1960s, representing the flip side of the Americana presented in "Mad Men."
Griffith died Tuesday at the age of 86, media reports said, leaving a legacy of terrific acting on television, in movies and on stage -- but mostly as the winning star of his eponymous TV show, in which he portrayed a homespun sheriff.
"The Andy Griffith Show" dominated the TV ratings for a time during the Swinging Sixties. While the fictional Don Draper of "Mad Men" at the same time in American history was living it up in Manhattan and eyeing the counter-culture, Griffith was firmly ensconced in tiny Mayberry, N.C.
Sheriff Andy was joined by a colorful cast of popular characters, including deputy Barney, girlfriend Helen Crump, his Aunt Bee and son Opie (played by now Oscar-winning director Ron Howard as a child actor), pals Goober and Gomer Pyle, the town drunk Otis and Floyd the barber. None of those characters would have fit into the "Mad Men" vision of popular culture from the era.
What "The Andy Griffith Show" proved was that good TV will triumph in any age. The program featured sharply drawn characters and folksy humor. It's somewhat amazing to look back and remember how this depiction of rural America was triumphing at the same time anti-Vietnam War protests and disruptions on college campuses dominated the news.
Andy Griffith and his show reflected good humor, nostalgia for a simple America -- and admirable values, which never really go out of style.