To me, the major change that has occurred since the days of the Andy Griffith show is that TV shows have gotten more coarse. In the days of Andy Griffith, shows were not meant to show the bad parts of life -- they were supposed to show a much more idealized life. Also, they were expected to be very polite, I guess you would say. There were not jokes about body functions, there was no swearing, anything like that.
Now shows seem to have gone the other way, with way more swearing, violence, nudity, sexual innuendoes, etc. I do not think this is particularly good. I think that it was nicer back when people did not say "ass" on TV -- I like manners, I like the idea that you should not talk in public the way you talk among your friends.
I would suggest that a primary change in shows since "Andy Griffith" has been that more voices have been included in the television discourse. This expansion of voice has included people of color, greater divergence in the depiction of women, as well as including people whose sexual orientation may differ from the cultural norm. Television represents this diversity in the modern sense than it did in the times of Mayberry. Separate to this is the fact that it has become more coarse and guttural, which is a definite point about how television has changed. In terms of the inclusion of more voice, I would say that this can be considered to be a good thing for as the complex tapestry of America is revealed to a greater extent, this can be considered a good thing. In terms of how the content of television has changed, I think that this change has been fed by the demands of the viewing public, which might not be good or bad as much as inevitable.
Being a BIG fan of the old Andy Griffith Show (I am watching an old episode at the moment), I lament the lack of quality family shows on TV today. Even worse, the old situation comedy has apparently become highly unpopular, since there are very few successful examples on TV today. The good ones that followed Andy in recent years--such as Seinfeld and Frasier--though highly entertaining, did not feature the family values and story-with-a-message approach that many old sit-coms of the late 1950s and 1960s fulfilled. Although I doubt that such old fashioned shows as The Andy Griffith Show or Leave It to Beaver will ever return, I am hoping that the situation comedy will return in force when the present reality shows that clog the airwaves begin to fade with the viewer.
BTW, in a poll several years back conducted by the Ted Turner Superstation, WTBS, The Andy Griffith Show was voted the most popular TV show of all time.
It is interesting that reruns of The Andy Griffith Show yet appeals to young people and children if they watch it. There is, indeed, a wholesomeness to this show as there are moral and ethical lessons that children can learn from watching this program.
Frequently, one hears the comment, "All these stations and nothing to really watch." This year the Olympics were the number 1 program that was viewed at the times of its broadcasting. This fact should tell the networks something.
Programs from the era of The Andy Griffith Show were sometimes very unrealistic in their portrayal of people: not every mother wore pearls around her neck and a pretty dress around the perfectly kept house. So, certainly there should have been programs to which other socio-economic classes could relate, But, at least, the dramas that were on television such as on The Zane Gray Theatre, etc. were not so inane that one could figure out the plot in 5 minutes as they are today. And, there were real actors--not people in a reality program.
Even news programs are dramatically different from the early days of TV. For, the news programs were not as slanted liberally or conservatively as they are today. And, real news was presented, not just human interest stories and the latest gossip on celebrities. Journalists like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite brought professionalism to television news programs.
Since this is more of an opinionated question I will give you my opinion. I believe that television has become worse in some ways and better in others. The graphics and visual styles have greatly improved. There are some wonderful preschool learning programs, nature programs, and educational programs that help people to develop hobbies.
However, television has become too uncensored. The average show has an immense amount of sexuality and violence is such an everyday occurrence that people have become numb to it. People's personal lives, pain, and struggles have become fodder for entertainment. Children may not have access to certain programs in their own home setting, but who knows what they observe when they go next door?
There is greater representation of different cultures and religions on television and some stereo-types have smoothed down a little, but stereo-types still exist. In addition, the media and advertisement and images are sold via television to American youth hourly.
I miss the comfort of shows like "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver" where problems always seemed to work out and the worst worry a child had was whether or not to tell the truth about a lamp he or she broke versus having to have the police called in because he shot a man in the head to get some money to buy crack.
i would say its bad.