The Addams Family: The most well-adjusted family on television?

I was watching an interview today with the four remaining members of the original Addams Family.  It was very entertaining, and I especially liked the comment made by John Astin (who played the original Gomez Addams) that at the time, the Addams Family were probably the best role models on television.  When I thought about it, I realised that he was right.  In the age of the Brady Bunch, the Beverly Hilbillies and Lost in Space, the Addams’ clan provided more positive family messages than most programs at the time.  Don’t believe me?  Read on…

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Image from Viva Las Gomez

Gomez and Morticia

Gomez and Morticia Addams have always been portrayed as a loving, romantic couple.  They spend a great deal of time alone with one another, and aren’t afraid to show their affection.  John Astin passed comment that Gomez and Morticia were the only couple on TV at the time who actually touched one another, and contrasts them with the tepid, polite partnership seen between Mike and Carol Brady.  He remarks that “You can see how it would come to be that Gomez and Morticia would actually have children”, and that every other couple on TV at the time seemed to have found their children in the cabbage patch.  Another positive thing about Gomez and Morticia’s relationship is that, while they often compete against one another in fencing, chess and other pursuits, they rarely keep score and never seem to argue with one another.  Also, despite spending plenty of time together, Gomez and Morticia also have their own interests and hobbies that they indulge separately.  Morticia loves gardening, music and the dark arts whereas Gomez prefers reading, cigars and model trains.  They respect one another’s space and show interest in eachother’s pursuits.  Overall, the two senior Addams’ complement one another perfectly, and have a well-rounded, affectionate relationship that is neither tepid nor co-dependent.

Sibling rivalry?

While Wednesday and Pugsly do like to play pranks on one another, they generally get along quite well.  They often help one another with projects and work well together.  Although Wednesday is often seen to commit acts that could be dangerous to her brother’s life (such as strapping him into an electric chair or shooting an apple off his head with a bow and arrow), it would appear that she does these things out of curiosity, rather than a desire to harm Pugsly.  The Addams siblings seem to view one another as accomplices, rather than rivals.  This can be contrasted with the sharp rivalries and bitterness exhibited by the Brady siblings, particularly Jan and Marcia.

Extended family.

The Addams clan had two members of their extended family who shared their home: Uncle Fester and Grandmama.  Each of these older relatives were usually treated with respect and kindness.  The Addams’ children often go to Uncle Fester for advice and generally look up to him as a source of important information (such as knowledge about various explosives).  Grandmama is the unofficial matriarch of the family, and is treated kindly and respectfully by all.  This is quite different to the treatment of extended family members in other programs, who tend to be portrayed as doddering or irritating.

Treatment of house staff

The Addam’s had a butler, Lurch, who was always treated as though he was one of the family.  He was often seen to participate in family activities, and appears to be a close friend and confidante of Gomez and Fester especially.  The children were always kind to Lurch, and never forgot their manners when speaking to him.  Lurch was always treated as a human being and friend rather than as hired help (although whether or not Lurch is human is debatable).

Pets

The family had a wide range of pets, all of whom were well cared for and greatly loved by all members of the family.  Morticia took great pains to prepare meals for her carnivorous plant, Cleopatra and Wednesday rarely let her spider, Homer, out of her sight.  Pugsly also had an octupus named Aristotle and the family had a lion named Kitty Cat.  Thing is a pet of Gomez’s from his childhood.  This empathy for all creatures great and small (and slimy, and hairy) sends out a very positive message.

Just be yourself.

The overarching message that I draw from the Addams Family is that you should always be happy with who you are, and you should never tone down your own personality to please anybody else.  The Addam’s were as weird and strange as they come, and yet they were totally oblivious to this fact.  They didn’t seem to care that none of their neighbours enjoyed playing with instruments of torture or traipsing through a swamp.  Furthermore, they never persecuted any of their ‘normal’ guests for being different, but rather accepted them for who they were.

There are an awful lot of positive messages embedded within this classic program.  Rather than sitting kids down in front of Dora the Explorer (who is always wandering around unsupervised) and In The Night Garden (who frankly act like they are all on crack), buy them a copy of the Addams Family DVDs and sit down and enjoy them together without a speck of guilt.

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40 thoughts on “The Addams Family: The most well-adjusted family on television?

  1. Pingback: THE ADDAMS FAMILY & ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES – Ten Years Too Late

  2. Reblogged this on The Only Buddhist in Town and commented:
    I am a huge fan of Morticia Addams. I really enjoyed this blog post which reflects so much about how I felt about her when I was growing up. She was certainly NOT Carol Brady. I couldn’t stand that sugary sweet show. Having a step mother and step brothers, the Brady Bunch rang false for me. I was much more drawn to the Addams Family instead. Despite their kookiness, Morticia and Gomez adored each other, just as I adore my beloved John. ❤ And yeah, we're a little kooky too.

  3. For those of us who were always fans of the show, we knew this already. It’s nice to see their family unit and their relationships expressed in a way the “mundane” can relate to.

    Great article, thank you so much for sharing it.

  4. Though many things have appealed to me about the Addam’s family, Morticia and Gomez’s warmth and love captured my interest most of all. They always seemed to be the ideal couple- perhaps too good for reality, but a constant reminder to never be so busy as to not take time for your significant other or your children.

    Thanks for writing this article!

    • I totally agree with you. In many ways they’re a fantastic couple: they’re deeply in love and are very vocal about their affection, but they’re not co-dependent and have their own interests and hobbies.

  5. Well written.
    I have to say they are one of the big influences on me. I think we too easily forget how sharp kids are. We notice things that others don’t. Namely fakery. The Addams Family and the Munsters too for that matter were real families with real values (see what I did there).

    Too often now are kids sat in front of psychedelic borderline hypnosis/seizure inducing rubbish. Not mine! If I ever have any haha.

  6. They aren’t “normal.” They’re better-than-normal. Too wise and well-adjusted to be realistic role models. Once a person realizes that, it’s inferiority complex time.

    No wonder it’s a “horror” show.

    • In a way, you’re right. They are caricatures rather than realistic characters. But the messages that they impart are still extremely valuable and, in my opinion, well executed.

  7. I love this! Everything you’ve said is so true, but phenomenally subtle enough that most of us glaze over it. Maybe because it all felt very natural and simple, instead of overdone or forced.

  8. So good. A couple years ago, I did a school drama project with 5th graders where they wrote and performed their own episodes of the Addams family in order to foster school-wide discussion on respectable, responsible, and safe behavior. Their 10 minute plays were smart and hilarious. In one, Morticia sent Fester and Wensday to the butcher for a pound of Abraham Lincoln so the family could eat smarter. The butcher was out of old Abe, but Fester and Wensday bought a pound of Benjamin Franklin, thinking he was pretty smart too.

  9. I see… a “compare and contrast” assignment from an English Literature professor… to compare the Addams Family with the Bill Cosby Show TV Family…

  10. LOVE this and I must share. I absolutely ‘got’ the Aadams family in its day….what a laugh the night garden on crack!!!!! hahahahaha I watched it once with my granddaughter and at the end thought WTF . hahahaha Thankyou for this great read. off to get my dvds and watch this ‘normal’ family again.

  11. 3 of my kids were Big Wednesday (my 15 year-old), Gomez (my 10 year-old) and little Wednesday (my 4 3/4 year-old) complete with doll (head attached). The girls’ dresses (and doll’s dress) were made by me. If I could post a picture, I would. If you want to email me, I can pop a picture or two to you.

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