6 times Opie's antics on 'The Andy Griffith Show' would've freaked out parents today
Stealing. Ditching school. Here's every time we knew Opie knew better!
One of the most buzzed-about shows today is Netflix's Stranger Things. Like a lot of shows today, it's deeply steeped in nostalgia and is overtly set in the 1980s. From a recognizable soundtrack that blasts you into the past with cuts from Foreigner and Corey Hart to Farrah Fawcett hairspray holding up the cast's hair, it's undeniable what decade you're in.
The plot centers on a group of kids who battle supernatural forces to protect their hometown and loved ones from a dangerous and persistent threat. The parents are largely absent, except for one mom whose son is a specific target of the evil.
The second season was just released, and there's a funny criticism that has emerged from the show's youngest viewers: They just can't believe these kids' parents allow their children to wander around town for days without checking in. It's one of those cases where you can imagine if cellphones existed back in the 1980s, a lot of what happens in the show would be less likely to occur, because theoretically if these kids asked their parents if they could go chase after evil forces, their answer would be a stern, "No, come right home."
We had to chuckle at how much has changed. Our memories are chock full of moments spent riding bikes around our own hometowns, spending small allowances at the corner store, and barely seeing our parents until the agreed-upon curfew or dinner time. It got us thinking about another little kid we remember having the full run of his hometown, day in and day out in the tiny TV town of Mayberry.
Don't tell millennials shocked by Stranger Things' depiction of the '80s, but little Opie on The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s sometimes spent entire episodes out on his own. In fact, there's even a point where Aunt Bee cautions the kid that he's spending too much time with his dad and needs to get out of the sheriff's office and into the world.
We followed Opie around episode after episode, and we discovered that some of the situations that he finds himself in would set any parents of any age's nerves on edge. See if you remember worrying after little Opie and maybe even nervously whistling to yourself as he took us through these troublesome antics from The Andy Griffith Show below.
1. Opie joins a secret club that meets in an abandoned barn.
Opie's curfew is a little obscured throughout The Andy Griffith Show. As far as we can tell, it's sometime between "not too late" and "not after dark." This limit is tested in "Keeper of the Flame," when Opie joins a secret club. He takes a solemn oath to bring the candle necessary to light their nightly meetings in an old abandoned barn. When the barn catches fire, the owner (and moonshiner) Jubal Foster suspects it's Opie and his friends, but Opie's bound to the honor of his oath not to tell Andy what's up.
Of course, it turns out Opie's not the bad guy in the end, and Andy gets the right man. Still, each time Opie scampers off at night to bring the sacred candle to the secret club, you can practically hear today's parents cringe, as they agree with Andy, "You know you ain't allowed out after dark."
2. Opie meets a strange man in the woods who gives him money for ice cream.
Nervous parents, cover your ears while we explain the plot of the episode "Mr. McBeevee." The photo here shows Opie handing back the hatchet he was gifted by Mr. McBeevee, a telephone lineman who also does tricks for Opie and gives him money to buy himself an ice cream. When Opie tells Andy about the "real nice man," Andy gets more than concerned and follows his boy out into the woods, where we've already seen Opie wander off alone several times.
The man isn't there, and the plot grows more ominous with each furrow of Andy's eyebrows. Instead of a dramatic confrontation with Mr. McBeevee, though, the episode ends with Andy shaking his hand gleefully, saying, "I can't tell ya how glad I am to meet you." That's the difference between being a kid in the woods of Mayberry and anyplace else in the world today.
3. You won't believe this, but Opie steals.
The episode "Opie and His Merry Men" finds Opie again out in the woods, this time with a crew of friends, sharing a bottle of "nut brown" ale. Opie uncorks the bottle with his teeth and takes a giant swig before leading his merry men to meet another strange man in the woods outside Mayberry. This time it's not somebody as nice as Mr. McBeevee either, but a liar who convinces the boys to steal on his behalf. Say it ain't so, Opie!
When Andy catches wind of it, he's off again stomping into the woods behind Opie, but this time, he scares the strange man off instead of shaking his hand. As usual, the whole episode is resolved by a heart to heart between Andy and Opie, because Andy's trick seems to be that you don't have to monitor every second of a boy's life as long as you instill good sense every chance you get.
4. Opie ditches school to go fishing with a hobo.
Yet again, we see Opie strolling alongside a stranger he's met in the woods in the episode "Opie's Hobo Friend." This time he met the stranger with Andy after a fishing trip. Barney suspects the man is a hobo and arrests him for vagrancy, but Andy sets him free and gives him a job.
This is when things actually get fishy, because Opie comes across the hobo before his first day on the job and when the man decides to ditch his work to go fishing, Opie decides to follow along and do the same. That's not acceptable behavior for any growing boy, and as usual, Andy manages to catch up in time to help steer Opie the right way, all while allowing the kid to go pretty much wherever he pleases.
5. Opie's friend spies on Andy from the sheriff's office roof.
For the episode "A Man's Best Friend," Opie's got a new pal in Arnold. The buddies pull all kinds of tricks, but one of the most hair-raising for any skittish parent is a scene right at the start where Arnold teeters on the rooftop of the sheriff's office. He's up there so he can spy on Andy, communicating through a walkie talkie with Opie, who waits inside ready to surprise Andy with his inexplicable insights.
The practical jokes continue and escalate throughout the episode, including one played by Andy himself, not exactly setting the picture-perfect example for his boy as he seems to almost boast after pulling one over on Arnold, "Practical jokes can hurt people." By the episode's end, both boys have apologized and made good, of course, but the rest of the episode is pure, unmitigated and immature antics.
6. Opie kind of kidnaps a baby for a little while.
Then there's the episode "Opie Finds a Baby." In it, Opie discovers a baby who's been abandoned by his parents and he and his pal decide the best thing to do is tell nobody. What? We know Andy has taught Opie better than this! They hide the baby as they try to find him the best possible parents, worried if they turn the baby over, he will end up having a bad life.
It's not until the worried real parents return for their baby that Opie brings the baby back. Imagine that? A couple of kids with enough free time and parental distance that they can take care of a newborn baby and keep it a secret from Opie's pa the whole time.
If audiences in the 1960s found this plausible, we think today's viewers can allow for a couple teens in the 1980s whose parents don't always know their every move. As Opie proves, we've seen stranger things than that.