It might have escaped the notice of even the most diehard fans of The Andy Griffith Show that in the classic comedy’s eight-season run, there really weren’t very many married couples.
Why was marriage not popular in Mayberry? Was that the reason everyone was so happy there?
Here are a few theories for Mayberry’s low percentage of wedded bliss.
Andy Griffith opened up about his difficulty writing for women
In Richard Kelly’s 1981 book, The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith spoke with the author about the show’s female characters and about his personal challenges writing for women.
“We never knew how to write for women,” Griffith admitted. “We never did know, and because of my peculiar nature, and my personal relationship with women, and the difficulty that I’ve always had with them – it became even more difficult for us to write for women.”
Griffith broached the topic of his character’s first girlfriend on the show played by Elinor Donahue of Father Knows Best fame.
“Elinor Donahue was a regular in the company before we ever started, and we were so lucky to get her, we thought,” he said. “Well, she didn’t work out at all. It wasn’t her fault. It was our fault. And it starts with me. She asked to be relieved from duty after that first season.”
After trying with one female actor after another to provide Andy Taylor with a companion, Griffith admitted he and the other writers finally said, “to hell with it.”
1 theory for why no one was married in Mayberry
Another of the show’s actors Jack Dodson, who played Howard Sprague starting in the show’s sixth season, told Kelly marriage in Mayberry just wouldn’t have worked.
“Unless the series is going to be about marriage,” he explained, “it is a tremendous hindrance to the writer to have married characters because it deprives the writer of the freedom to create circumstances.
“A character needs to move from one environment to another,” Dodson added, “and he would not always be believable if he were married.”
Don Knotts, who also spoke with Richard Kelly for his book, would rein Griffith in when talk of having Andy marry came up. Knotts felt having the main character marry would overwhelmingly change the dynamics of the show.
Andy Griffith finally found a companion on the show
Don Knotts was relieved for Griffith when actor Aneta Corsaut was hired to play school teacher Helen Crump. As Knotts said, “I think [Griffith] related to her the best. He’s very shy with women.”
Corsaut made her first appearance on the show in its third season and remained Andy’s significant other for the remainder of the series.
“Helen Crump solved the show’s problem with women,” according to Kelly. “She was attractive, intelligent, warm-hearted, sensitive, and always very proper. She was not a sexual creature who needed to be dealt with in romantic terms. She was Andy’s ‘girl,’ but she could have been his sister.”
Andy and Helen eventually did marry and have a baby, but it all happened on The Andy Griffith Show‘s spin-off series, Mayberry, R.F.D.