What Ron Howard Didn’t Realize About ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Until He Went to College

The Andy Griffith Show is known for its amiable characters, however, members of the cast would get upset if you discussed one thing. Ron Howard even said they’d tar and feather you if you mentioned a certain concept. Howard said he learned more about this subject in college.

Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier of The Andy Griffith Show
Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier \ CBS via Getty Images

Ron Howard: This would get ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ cast ‘tarred and feathered’

The Andy Griffith Show is many things. It’s fun, funny, wholesome, and sweet. For many, it’s a source of nostalgia. While the series is certainty entertaining, few would call it especially complex. During an interview with the Directors Guild of America, Howard says the show is artistic — even if its cast members weren’t having difficult discussions on set.

“Even though it was a quick schedule, it never felt like factory work,” Howard said. “Later I’d sometimes do guest shots on other TV shows and it felt really different, like an assembly line. On The Andy Griffith Show, you never got the feeling anyone was phoning it in, because Andy didn’t, ever. It wasn’t until I was in film school that I realized that those episodes were artfully made, and thoughtfully made. You’d have been tarred and feathered and run off the lot if you’d ever mentioned a metaphor, or anything like aesthetic principles, but they were there—a very singular tone and point of view.”

The Andy Griffith theme

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A cast member’s insight on the characters of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

During an interview with The Washington Post, Howard made a similar comment. “No one had been talking about symbol or metaphor on the Andy Griffith set,” he says. On the same token, he felt some of the characters on The Andy Griffith Show essentially functioned as symbols more than real characters. Apparently, the show used symbols even though the cast of the show didn’t talk about them. 

However, Howard went on to film classes which expanded his worldview. “The classes were important in that they opened up the possibility of film as a real means of expression. I simply had never thought of it that way. Obviously, it was there, but I hadn’t understood it on a conscious level as any kind of poetry.”

Ron Howard said the show was like the work of this famous director

He went on to study important films like Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. He is knowledgeable about classic movies. Interestingly, he found The Andy Griffith Show similar to the work of classic movie director Frank Capra.

A trailer for It’s a Wonderful Life

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Capra is most known for directing It’s a Wonderful Life. Some of his other famous movies include Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, You Can’t Take It With You, and It Happened One Night. Capra’s films often portray ordinary people as ultimately good and wholesome. While The Andy Griffith Show wasn’t much for metaphor, Howard still saw similarities between it and the work of a classic director.