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…
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.
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.
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).
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.