In The Beauty Contest, Andy is picked to be the judge of the beauty contest at the upcoming Founder’s Day celebration, the townsfolk drive him crazy by parading their sweethearts, daughters, and nieces in front of him to try to influence his vote.
Review of The Beauty Contest
The Beauty Contest is an example of a sitcom trope — before it became a cliche. It’s been done many times – on The Abbott and Costello Show, I Love Lucy, The Love Boat, and many others. But it’s done with a balance of heart and comedy here.
It begins with the barber Floyd suggesting, for the annual founders’ celebration, that they have a beauty contest:
Floyd Lawson: You know how we always do a pageant showing the founding of Mayberry? Well, how ’bout WITH that we also have a… beauty pageant?
Sam Lindsey: Beauty pageant. You mean with girls?
Andy Taylor: Uh, well they help.
Trying to sway the judge
Andy makes the foolish mistake of volunteering to judge the contest. And he does the more foolish mistake of suggesting to his girlfriend Ellie that she’d win. Because she’s his girlfriend, which causes her to stop speaking to him. This is the kind of foolish mistake that Barney Fife would do in future episodes.
To make things worse, virtually everyone in town “visits” Andy, trying to convince him to choose their daughter, wife, girlfriend, etc. It’s very funny, ending with a mob of his “friends” chasing him down the street! Even Opie gets in on it, suggesting his girlfriend from the first grade.
In fact, the only unselfish person is the elderly Miss Bishop, who volunteers to help with the festival. In fact, she sews the cape for the beauty queen, finishing it at the last moment. This gives Andy an idea to solve the problem without alienating Ellie (whom he’s apologized to). Although the rest of the town’s upset …
A decision worthy of Solomon
Andy Taylor: Ah… folks, uh, in order to judge a beauty contest I-I think it’s good to know what beauty really is. Now, they-they’s outside beauty – I guess we can all see that, aheh – and then they’s inside beauty.
Henrietta Swanson: Sheriff, are you gonna name the winner or not?
Andy Taylor: I-I’m goin’ to, ma’am. I’m goin’ to right now. Miss, uh, Bishop, would you bring up the robe please? Thank ya. Wait, wait, Miss Bishop, wait. Folks, to present to you the most logical choice, most obvious choice and in fact the only choice, I present to you her royal highness, Miss Mayberry… Miss Erma Bishop. For doin’ such a beautiful job with this here pageant and just behavin’ beautifully through the whole thing, I crown thee, Miss Mayberry. [contestant losers all burst out crying, save one… ]
Ellie Walker: Andy, it WAS the best choice.
Andy Taylor: Well, maybe I better see if I can stop this cryin’ jag.
The Beauty Contest is a very enjoyable example of The Andy Griffith Show season 1, and I recommend it.