TAGS takes place in a parallel universe where slavery never existed.It's the South, it's The Sixties, and the title character is the sheriff, but:
Mayberry has a very dark racist past.As the above Guess shows, Mayberry is a lily-white Southern town. There is no mention of people of color, segregation, or civil rights. The explanation is that the white people of Mayberry ran all of the black residents out of town. Maybe Sheriff Andy, or one of his predecessors, had them killed. There's no evidence of hate crimes because they were all committed years before - the people just don't talk about them, although Andy may have had a hand in maintaining what he inherited.
Andy Killed His WifeBarney, his cousin, helped cover it up. What does the file say? "Accidental death." Riiiight.
This show is the prequel to Matlock.
Andy Taylor is a post-breakdown Lonesome RhodesAt the end of A Face In The Crowd, "Lonesome" Rhodes suffers a breakdown as his fame collapses and he swears to win the public's love again. Unsure of where to begin, then, perhaps he decides to start from scratch in another Southern small-town jail - but this time, on the other side of the bars. He changes his name to Andy Taylor, adopts the same down-home good-natured facade that made him popular in the first place, and tries to jump straight into politics by running for sheriff. Because this takes so long to accomplish he finds himself settling down in the town for good. Eventually he pretends to be a decent person for so long that he actually becomes one, and he blissfully forgets that he ever was the fallen megastar Lonesome Rhodes. He may have done this remembering that Marsha was practically engaged to Sheriff Bess until he came along.
Andy and Barney are either closeted gays, bisexuals or perhaps, asexuals.
Barney is the real mastermind of the town.He's just obfuscating stupidity. People do seem to tip-toe around him to keep from hurting his feelings or upsetting him and Andy goes to great lengths to make Barney happy. Andy sees Barney's potential and goes about keeping him happy/content with his job as deputy since he fears Barney might harm himself if he's forced to see how pathetic he is. The townspeople go along with this, largely because they know Andy and Barney are best friends and moreso, know that Andy will keep Barney in check so things don't go out of control.
Barney had a nervous breakdown sometime after leaving the Army.As noted, Andy goes out of his way to keep Barney happy and somewhat deluded about his life. Perhaps Barney had some sort of mental collapse after the War (granted, he didn't see any combat but there could have been another cause), and then had a difficult time transitioning back into normal life and finding steady work. So Andy took pity on him and made him deputy, and because Andy had earned so much goodwill in Mayberry no one in town complained...until Mayor Stoner came along and was appalled to discover that Andy made a former mental patient his deputy and subsequently tried to force the Sheriff out. This eventually lead to Barney's leaving Mayberry, since Stoner (after all his other attempts failed) planned to go the State Board and lodge a formal complaint (as well as going to the press) in order to discredit Andy and ruin Barney's career in the process. In retaliation, Andy decides to get involved in town politics more directly and attempts to oust Stoner, eventually leading to him convincing Sam Jones to run for the town council in the final season (as the first step to eventually becoming Mayor).
Opie is a time traveller.And like his alternate universe counterpart in The Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance", he came back as an adult to visit Mayberry again. After having a piece of Aunt Bea's pie, and a down-home chat from Andy, he decided to move on with his life and went back to the future. (No, not that future.)