North Carolina’s decision to restrict persons to their biologically assigned bathrooms has got me to thinking about Mayberry, the imaginary place due north of Charlotte near the Virginia line where “The Andy Griffith Show” was set.
Premiering in 1960, the show provided white Southerners with an idealized image of themselves: friendly and homespun and rural, with a genial, problem-solving, wisdom-dispensing sheriff who bore no resemblance whatsoever to Birmingham’s Bull Connor. There was nary a black person — well, the high school football coach in one 1967 episode — to remind anyone of what was going on in the actual South of the time.
It’s pretty clear that the solons in Raleigh would like to redo their state as that mythical place. Abortions? Let’s make doctors send ultrasounds to state officials. Too many black voters? Let’s require photo IDs. Same-sex marriage? Give public officials the religious right not to issue marriage licenses to, or perform marriages for same-sex couples. And as for those radicals down in Charlotte who let gender identity determine bathroom to use, they can stick that ordinance where the sun don’t shine.
Return to Mayberry indeed.
But during my time in the South, I learned that real Mayberrys tend to be places where folks know how to work through the new social realities. So I’d like to propose “Mayberry 2016,” a sitcom that does just that. Here a few episodes.
- After Andy persuades town drunk Otis Campbell to vote for the first time in honor of his ancestor, Revolutionary War hero General William Campbell, Otis discovers that he doesn’t have a photo I.D. Though everyone in town knows him, Andy is forced to fabricate an I.D. that passes muster.
- When the Mayberry Savings Bank is robbed once again, Barney decides that everyone in town should carry a weapon at all times. Calling a meeting at the high school, Andy persuades the citizens that open carry might not be the best guarantee of public safety.
- Gomer announces that he and his “cousin” Goober are going to get married. A crisis ensues when county clerk Howard Sprague refuses to issue them a license and the Bluebird Diner refuses to bake them a cake. Andy sends Barney to Winston-Salem to get the license and conducts the ceremony himself while Aunt Bee bakes the couple a wedding pie.
- Opie comes home from school upset that one of the girls in his class is claiming that she’s really a boy and wants to use the boys’ room. Andy explains that some people think that God got a little mixed up when He created them and that they should be allowed to work things out for themselves. Then he takes the two of them fishing.
Anyone want to fund the pilot?