The Addams Family. Okay, what did you picture just now? A man with a cigar? A woman in a black gown that droops onto the floor around her? A miserable little girl with dark braids?
All those things are fine because they each point to at least one bit of Addams Family media, but different people think of different things because we are all familiar with various iterations and interpretations of the creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky family.
If you thought of a miserable little girl with dark braids named Wednesday, then you’re likely most familiar with the 1990s Addams family movies, or maybe you like the more recent animated ones. Either way, if you think of little Wednesday as dark and unhappy, then you almost definitely did not think of the 1960s sitcom first.
I never had any real “Addams” exposure until a few months ago when I started watching the ‘60s show. I had seen at least some of the first movie from 1991 many years ago and it was cute. However, what I knew of Wednesday and the rest of the family was that they were…disturbing. That can be fun in fiction, but that particular movie didn’t strike me as anything remarkable. In fact, it made me a bit sad to see a little girl with such a distinctly grim outlook on life.
Then, sometime this year, my mom started watching the old black-and-white sitcom. I only ever caught glimpses of it in passing, but my mom frequently talked about how funny it was. Intriguing…
Her favorite character was – and is – Lurch, the huge and quiet butler. She told me about a scene in which Wednesday tried to teach Lurch to dance; she was doing ‘60s-style go-go moves, and he was jumping and pounding his fists on the floor.
Woah! Back up. Wednesday danced? Like a kid? Bonding with the family butler? This was something I never thought I’d see, but there it was… little Wednesday Addams saying “boss” and “groovy” while doing this badass jig. And yes, the scene was hilarious, but I couldn’t get over this image of Wednesday being a quasi-normal child.
I started watching the show with my mom a few months ago, and it is truly the best. It’s silly but smart, not taking any cheap shots. The humor is very unique and unexpected, and definitely ahead of its time.
But as funny and charming as the writing is, it all comes down to the characters. On average, I would say that they are all happy at least 85% of the time. All they ever do is play, dance and talk about their family outings and adventures.
Let’s start with Wednesday since she’s the focus of most modern Addams media. The things she did in the sitcom were essentially normal; it was just the way she did them. She played with dolls, but she would cut off their heads to pretend they were Marie Antoinette. She asked her parents for bedtime stories, but they were about witches getting revenge on the “ungrateful” Hansel and Gretel. She loved her pets, but they were spiders. She was normal but in a weird way. But, more importantly, she was happy. She loved playing with the macabre and the strange – “loved” being the operative word.
I remember in high school so many girls liked to joke, “I’m totally like Wednesday Addams!” while referring to the ‘90s Wednesday. I’m not passing judgment; those ladies were cool, but it always made me think, “Why would you want to be like her?” Even in jest, I saw it as kind of a negative outlook. When I say that I want to be like Wednesday, I’m thinking of that confident kid who loves her crazy family and is not afraid to show it. She has admirable qualities, especially for a fictional child.
Next, let’s talk about Morticia. I believe that most of her depictions are similar, but the ‘60s one is my favorite. She’s almost always smiling, family always comes first, and she wears black because she thinks it’s “such a happy color.” She loves rainy days and takes her family out for midnight picnics. She has a flesh-eating plant that she feeds hamburger meat, stroking the plant’s leaves with a gentle, “Cleopatra, darling, don’t gulp.”
Morticia is kind, loving, understanding and respectful to everything and everyone. I may share her love of cloudy weather and wearing black, but I deeply aspire to be as compassionate and tender as she is while still managing to be strong and unafraid of the world around her.
I’ll now move on to Cousin Itt! Wait, never mind; he’s already exactly like me.
So, finally, I will move on to my favorite Addams: Gomez. He is one of the happiest, goofiest fictional characters I’ve ever seen. Everything is an adventure to him. Like, someone could be robbing their house, and he’d be all, “Yay! New friend!” He thinks everything and everyone is wonderful – except maybe a day without a cloud in the sky.
Gomez would do anything for his family, and he practically worships Morticia. The love and affection between them are mutual and powerful. It’s intoxicating – the kind of love that so many people strive for.
But it also lends itself a plethora of jokes, which are funny every time. Morticia often speaks French, and it makes Gomez’s heart boil. “Tish! That’s French!” He drops everything he’s doing – often throwing his lit cigar – to kiss her up her arm while imploring her to speak more of the language, even if it’s just “déjà vu.” Sometimes, he uses a French phrase and gets himself just as fired up. It’s ridiculous, and that’s what makes it great.
This is a big part of showing how Gomez can’t take anything seriously. No matter what the problem is, he’s positive that it will work out, so he gets distracted by either his “querida” Morticia or the toy trains that he likes to crash into each other to create small, fiery explosions of metal and plastic.
While Gomez is certainly over-the-top silly, I still admire his consistent attitude of joy. He has a wonderful life filled with loved ones, and when someone else dislikes him, he doesn’t even notice. Hardly anything can make him unhappy, and while it can be absurd in the show, it’s difficult not to want a beautiful little brain like his.
It’s refreshing for me to watch a family sitcom that I can find even somewhat relatable. In my household, you can practically feel the love as though it’s a physical presence in the house…along with all the black skulls and gargoyles. I want to be more like some of the Addams, but even the bits of traits that I share with them are ooky blessings. I think we can all stand to be a bit more creepy and kooky in our everyday lives. The show is brimming with bliss and positivity, which is like a breath of deliciously musky air on an otherwise sunny day. (Snap. Snap.)
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