There’s no disputing that The Andy Griffith Show is about as good-natured as TV gets. On the rare occasion when the jail’s too full, Sheriff Andy Taylor even invites prisoners into his home. There really isn’t a more welcoming place in the television universe than Mayberry.
But Mayberry was not some idealistic fantasyland, rather a charming town full of pragmatic people. Few folks in Mayberry could rival the good sense of Andy, which is why characters came to him for advice. But even he was not immune to a bad mood or two throughout the show’s eight seasons.
In fact, if you pay close attention when you get to the later seasons of the show, Andy begins to slip into a more sarcastic version of his character a little more often, particularly when he’s dealing with his dear Aunt Bee.
Let’s take a look at this dynamic under a microscope, shall we? Below, we’ve isolated some of Andy’s uncharacteristically controlling tendencies and snippiest sarcasm that he ever aimed at sweet Aunt Bee. Have a laugh and see if you remember any of these scenes causing you to raise an eyebrow.
1. Andy’s sense of sarcasm strengthens in season 5.
We started noticing the writers having a little more fun with the dynamic between Andy and Aunt Bee in season 5 with the episode “Aunt Bee’s Romance.” In a scene where Aunt Bee is excited to have received a mysterious letter, she spends a little time musing on who it could be from.
Andy, however, has no patience for her ruminations. “Know how you can find out?” he asks, hovering close to Aunt Bee and using more edge in his voice than you’d expect. “Open it.” When she doesn’t, he’s got more jokes: “Want me to give you a permission note to open it?” Then when even that doesn’t bully her into tearing into the letter, he loses it, insisting with seeming frustration, “Open it, open it, open it!”
2. Andy flips his wig over Aunt Bee’s wig.
It’s in the last three seasons — the color episodes — when we more routinely see Andy’s attitude slip into slightly sourer territory when dealing with Aunt Bee. Perhaps the biggest example comes in the season 7 episode “Aunt Bee’s Crowning Glory.” In it, Aunt Bee tries to wear a wig to look prettier, and everybody agrees it’s a good look. Everybody but Andy, that is. His response when he sees her new ‘do is a decided, “Huh-what?!”
At first, Andy loses it because he thinks Aunt Bee has dyed her hair. When she assures him it’s a wig, that’s somehow even worse news to Andy who insists over and over again that she go back upstairs and take it off. His problem? “No, no, no, no. I don’t want people staring at you.” In the end, everybody ignores Andy, and the episode ends with no harm done, despite all Andy’s dramatic protests.
3. Andy thinks Aunt Bee’s too old to drive.
A recurring theme in the more jagged exchanges between Andy and his aunt is the older woman’s age. Andy simply doesn’t think certain things should be done past a certain point in life. Case in point: driving a car. In “Aunt Bee Learns to Drive,” Andy puts his foot down and tells Aunt Bee she cannot buy a car, saying, “Aunt Bee is not the type of woman to drive a car.”
“Why not?” Aunt Bee asks, bewildered. “Driving takes concentration,” Andy says, with a sprinkling of seeming condescension. Opie stands up for Aunt Bee, and Andy gets so mad at the well-meaning betrayal he orders Opie to do his homework. In the end, Aunt Bee gets her way, and everyone cheers. Except Andy. He just pouts.
4. Andy rains on Aunt Bee’s parade.
Aunt Bee’s over the moon for most of the episode “Aunt Bee on TV,” which sees her winning a whole bunch of kitchen appliances. Among her prize haul, though, is a “genuine ranch mink” fur coat that Aunt Bee just can’t believe is hers. Of her prizes, she gushes, “All the others are so practical, and this is so impractical.”
Andy ignores her clear joy in the moment to say, “For this time of year, anyway. Aren’t you a little warm? It’s 82!” Aunt Bee’s face falls, but Andy’s little jabby line gets chuckles from the laugh track.
5. Andy shuts down Aunt Bee’s plans for a restaurant.
Throughout The Andy Griffith Show, Aunt Bee is always being careful as can be that she’s not getting in the way of a better life for Andy and Opie. She is endlessly giving. That’s why it’s so surprising any time Andy doesn’t show support for one of her spoken goals, like in “Aunt Bee’s Restaurant.”
The premise of the episode is that Aunt Bee has been talked into funding the opening of a Chinese restaurant in Mayberry. When she tries to tell Andy her plan to ask for his advice, he rushes her through the news and then is so taken aback by what she says, he makes her repeat it again. (The way she probably would’ve originally. Let the lady talk, Andy!)
Finally once he understands what’s going on, he says “What makes you think you know anything about running a restaurant?” Aunt Bee stands up for herself, calling Andy’s negativity a “typical male attitude.”
6. Andy again teases Aunt Bee for her age.
Here’s one last look at one of Andy’s occasional barbs he aimed at Aunt Bee. In “Aunt Bee, the Swinger,” Aunt Bee is delighted to have found a companion who enjoys her company. The only trouble is, her date is from D.C. and is used to a more active lifestyle that Andy feels is too fast a pace for Aunt Bee, despite her assurances that she can keep up.
Describing her date with the joy of a teen girl, Aunt Bee tells Andy, “We went for a long, long walk. We walked for miles and miles. We were talking so much, we didn’t notice.” Andy immediately bursts her bubble, “Sounds like a pretty strenuous evening. You better take it easy!”
Later in the same episode, Aunt Bee stays out late dancing and Andy catches her soaking her feet after. She swears she’s just cleaning them, and he teases her, saying, “I guess that makes sense. Some people get up in the morning, throw a little water on their face. You throw a little on your feet.” Then he clears his throat to say, “A little liniment?” It’s yet another uncharacteristic burn from Mayberry’s finest.