Watching 'Andy Griffith' Nightly After Hours of News Coverage is Oddly Cathartic
by Julian Spivey
It’s been a hard time at home for my wife, Aprille, and I lately. I know 2020 as a whole as been a hard time for everybody between Covid-19 and the country undergoing massive civil unrest due to police brutality and the protests surrounding it. But three weeks ago, we were told our dog Maya – the first one we ever adopted as a couple – would only have a month or two to live as she likely had liver cancer after having liver disease for more than a year. Maya’s health deteriorated incredibly fast after we got that news and this past Friday (May 29) we had to make the difficult decision to let her go.
Every year in May my wife and I suddenly have a huge hole in our television habits when most of our favorite shows end their respective seasons for the summer. We quickly blew through the most recent season of Netflix’s “Grace & Frankie” while we cuddled our baby girl for those last few weeks, but once that was over, we found ourselves watching “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Thanks to my dad who grew up with Andy Taylor, Barney Fife, Aunt Bee and the gang I’ve been a life-long fan of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Over our 14 ½ years together, I’ve shown Aprille some of my favorite episodes here and there like “The Load Goat” and “Mountain Wedding,” but lately every night before she goes to bed – we have different work and sleep schedules so she always calls it a night a few hours before I do – we’ve been watching an episode or two of ‘Andy Griffith.’ It’s always been comfort food for me and lately she’s told me more than once that the stories revolving around Mayberry and its down-to-earth, good guy sheriff are comforting to her.
Our country is undergoing the biggest amount of unrest I’ve seen in my almost 33 years on this earth. It started with yet another instance of police brutality when the Minneapolis P.D. killed George Floyd on Monday, May 25 for using a forged $20. That and President Donald Trump’s insensitive tweets about the reactions around the country, including the immediately infamous “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” have really set this country ablaze, both figuratively and at times and in certain places literally.
Aprille is a journalist by profession and I’m a former journalism minor who runs this website in my spare time so we’re both news junkies. Whenever something major is happening in this country we’re paying attention to it not only to gather the news, but to see how the national and local media cover it.
Can you imagine how hard it is to say goodbye to your first dog as a couple and then come home and watch hours upon hours of police brutality and protests and looting and burning buildings and cars? I know the people out on the streets – especially those within the black community – are dealing with much worse, but this was our little at-home tragedy tearing us up. Aprille mostly just needed to mourn Maya that first night. I watched the news. She’s joined me in watching the news in the nights since.
It’s a mixture of horror and anger watching the news right now and, in my opinion, much of it is seeing police forces all around this country committing horrifying acts against protestors and the media covering it. Firing rubber bullets and tear gas into peaceful protests, slamming women to the ground, aiming rubber bullet firearms at children, driving police vehicles through a crowd of protestors, tasing college students just because they’re out a smidge past curfew, firing crowd dispersal rounds at people standing on their porch just for videotaping them, firing rubber bullets intentionally at the media doing their job to cover the events. The truly horrifying thing is I’ve probably forgotten some things already I could add. Yes, there have been multiple instances around this country in the last few days of police doing great things and good jobs and people want those pointed out too, but isn’t that what the police are supposed to do?
It’s a hard-watch watching the news cover what’s happening in America right now. Before Aprille goes to bed she wants to de-stress for at least 22 minutes or so by watching something else and we’ve still been going to the comforting world of Mayberry.
You’d think we wouldn’t want anything to do with police right now after watching some of these despicable acts we’ve seen, even if it’s the friendliest sheriff you’ve ever seen in Andy Taylor.
But it’s helped soothe our broken hearts, broken for multiple reasons.
I’m not sure if it’s anything more than comforting for Aprille, but for me it’s hopefully. Or at least it’s idyllic.
Could the real-world in 2020 ever have a policeman like Andy Taylor? A man who famously doesn’t carry a gun, who would give the shirt off his back for those in his community, who’s as good of a man and father as he is a peace officer.
I don’t know if it’s realistic. It’s probably not completely, at least. It’s probably the same as me wanting Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlet from “The West Wing” to be the actual President of the United States.
It’s probably mostly a fairytale.
But it’s so heartwarming. It’s so hopeful. And there are good-hearted laughs to be had along the way.
I wish there were more police officers in this country like Andy Taylor – I know for a fact there are definitely some. Maybe a part of police training in this country should just be watching episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show”? I don’t think officers would learn much about procedure and law and tactics they need out on the force, but I think they might learn a thing or two about how to be a friendly public servant.