Andy Griffith worked hard to make Mayberry feel like a real Southern town
Griffith wanted Mayberry to feel true.
If you're from the South, chances are that more often than not, the representations of it on screen feel less than accurate. When you're actually from a place that is being depicted on screen, you have a respect and understanding for it that many television and film creators aren't able to harness. Therefore, the places that you love, even the places that you grew up in, are reduced to a few cheap laughs and stereotypes.
This was not the case for the town of Mayberry, which was by the design of none other than Andy Griffith himself. While the town itself is fictional, it was a place where viewers far and wide wished that they had grown up and lived. The kind and quirky townspeople and the pleasant atmosphere made Mayberry the sort of place people sought for the rest of their lives.
It's the kind of thing that Craig Fincannon, a casting director and lover of North Carolina, can appreciate. Griffith was born and raised in North Carolina, and according to an article in the National Post, he met Fincannon in 1974. Fincannon expressed, "I see so many TV shows about the South where the creative powers behind it have no life experience in the South. What made The Andy Griffith Show work was Andy Griffith himself — the fact that he was of this dirt and had such deep respect for the people and places of his childhood."
Fincannon explained, "A character might be broadly eccentric, but the character had an ethical and moral base that allowed us to laugh with them and not at them. And Andy Griffith's the reason for that."
According to the book The Andy Griffith Show by Richard Kelly, Griffith himself and Don Knotts, who was raised in West Virginia, were integral in the development of the Southern charm of the series. He said, "Andy was a great one for calling the writers when they had written something that didn't ring true. He would say, 'I have an uncle in North Carolina who's just like this guy and he wouldn't say that.' 'Well, what would he say?' He'd tell them and they'd write it down."