Monday, November 14, 2016

I Miss Mayberry

Except I don't really miss Mayberry. That's just a line from a song by Rascal Flatts. There was no real Mayberry, it was just a fictional town in a sitcom. But some thoughts occurred to me about Mayberry as I was streaming some episodes of the Andy Griffith Show on Hulu the other day... and if there's any weirder juxtaposition than digitally streaming episodes of the Andy Griffith Show, I can't think of it.

Anyway, we were talking about Mayberry. It seems to me that most of the people who voted in Donald Trump as our soon to be president did so because they bought into his notion to "Make America Great Again." I've wondered to myself when America has ever been greater than it was under our current president. Our economy is booming. Unemployment is at an all time low. More Americans have health insurance than ever before. Gays and Lesbians (and all those other letters whose meanings I'll admit I don't understand fully) are able to marry and have kids and be happy.

So, again, I ask myself... when was America ever greater than this?

And the only answer I can think of is... in Mayberry, a fictitious town in a sitcom from the 1950s.

Mayberry, of course, was an idealized representation of a perfect American Utopia, that was no more real than Brigadoon, Terabithia, or any of the various planets from Star Wars. The worst thing that ever happened in Mayberry was once a year part of the population had to suffer through some of Aunt Bea's awful pickles. If Mayberry was real, it's a safe bet Andy was probably on the take, Floyd the barber was a closeted homosexual, and Otis the town drunk would've died of cirrhosis of the liver.

But, again, Mayberry was an idealized version of the perfect American small town, and it represents everything Donald Trump and his supporters wish America could be. But does it? No black person ever had the chance to enter Mayberry, but if one did, there's no doubt in my mind Andy and Barney would welcome him or her in with open arms. There were no homosexuals in Mayberry -- at least not openly -- but I can't imagine Andy would think twice about hatching some scheme to help some gay guy who accidentally invited two different men to the Saturday night dance.

But, again, Mayberry was just a TV show, so what it represents about American society is just fantasy. However, it might be important to note that the actors who played Andy and Opie openly endorsed Barack Obama for president, and the actor who played Gomer Pyle spent most of his life as a closeted homosexual who was finally able to marry his long-time partner in 2015, a month after same sex marriage was legalized.

Come to think of it, I guess I do miss Mayberry... and I think America under President Obama was the closest we've yet coming to fully realizing that perfect utopia.

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