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The Addams Family

There are a few pop culture choices that can help you figure out what kind of person someone is. Are you a Beatles or a Stones person? Star Wars or Star Trek? Pepsi or Coke? In the realm of horror inspired sitcoms, the question is , do you prefer The Munsters or The Addams Family? I fall squarely on the side of the creepy and kooky Addams clan on this question. The show ha its faults, but in the end none of those faults makes me feel any less happy when I'm watching the show.

I'm sure everyone is at least familiar with the Addams Family, if not with the television show that ran from 1964 to 1966, around the same time that the counterculture was gearing up. And the Addams clan were perfect for the hippy generation. They didn't care how you looked, in fact if you looked a bit off kilter you were more likely to be accepted. They enjoyed life to the fullest, and money was so unimportant they were known to just give people handfuls of it. An just look at Cousin Itt's hair! He wouldn't have lasted a day in the deep south of the early 60's.

The thing I loved about this show was that it didn't just make carbon copies of the Universal monsters and call it a day. There is no Frankenstein's monster. Gomez wasn't a vampire or a ghost, he was just an eccentric guy with a taste for the morbid. Speaking of Gomez, you have to admire the gusto with which he lives his life. He does everything with 100 percent enthusiasm, and that includes his marriage. Everyone should be as lucky to have a relationship like Gomez and Morticia's. No typical husband and wife bickering or dysfunctional family dynamics for this show.

Sure, the writers would use the same jokes show after show. That, to me, is part of its charm and something a great many comedies of the time were guilty of. Don't get me wrong, Morticia saying she was worried about getting moon burn wan't very funny the first time, much less the 14th. But the occasional clunker doesn't make the show any less endearing. And some jokes, like Lurch taking hats from the heads of the constant visitors to the Addams' home or peoples' reaction to Thing, never get old.

Part of what makes the show so compelling is the cast. John Astin, later to be a guest on many shows (including his recurring role on Night Court that I love) and adopted father to future hobbit Sean, is a barely contained mass of kinetic energy as Gomez. He goes at life full throttle and enjoys nothing more than a good challenge. He has many passions in life, but none as great as that for his wife Morticia. Morticia has been called a Vampira knock off, and there is some truth to that I suppose. But Morticia is also a devoted wife and mother, and has an artistic spirit that always compels her to create. The actress who brought her to life, Carolyn Jones, should be more celebrated than she is as a genre darling. A veteran of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The War of the Worlds, House of Wax, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, she would go on to be in the Batman television series, Ghost Story, Kolchak The Night Stalker, Wonder Woman, and a movie called Eaten Alive from the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Wednesday has her headless doll and Pugsley enjoys blowing things up. Fester and Grand Mama can always be counted on to have an odd hobby to spice things up. My favorite character is Lurch, the menacing giant who loves nothing more than playing his harpsichord and the family who has taken him as one of their own. Thing is just a hand, but still comes across as a distinct character in his own right. Cousin Itt is a swinging bachelor with a distinct sense of style. (Incidentally when I grew my hair long in the late 80's my family nick named me Cousin Itt.)  While it might not be as dark and edgy as something made in modern times with a similar premise, it's a fun, goofy show that will keep you entertained. Like many older shows, it's not really made for binge watching and is best enjoyed an episode at a time.


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