There’s a few fictional families who have managed to last a while within the hivemind that is popular media. For most of them, let’s be honest, they’re your typical, all-American, milk and cookies, sunshine, and apple pie type families. Except … well, there’s one that comes to mind that really is nothing like that.
The Addams Family were created by cartoonist Charles Addams as a satirical inversion of the popular ideas of what the ideal American family should be like. The Addamses, as a rule, are eccentric, wealthy, have a passion for the darkness and the macabre… and are quite unaware that any of this is ‘odd’ in any way, which is where the humour comes from in every variation of the characters that you have seen. They are also a very loving family, and Gomez and Morticia having being claimed to be the first married couple shown on television in the 1960s that you could believe were utterly in love with each other.
Nameless in the original one-panel comics, the family became fully developed by Charles Addams during the production of the first television show. The 1960s version starred John Astin as Gomez, and Carolyn Jones as Morticia and it was around them that the show really took place. This was a couple who were so in love with each other, they were often overcome with their passion. They were nice to anyone who came by, accepting of all beliefs even if they weren’t their own and really, you’re pretty much looking at the two who should be the poster people for tolerance.
The movies brought out in the 90s also ran with this, but they brought back the darker tone of the comics. These Addamses were the type of people who would gleefully drop boiling oil on to carollers – a popular one panel comic of its day – but they were also the people who would give a priceless item to charity, and then buy it back for extreme amounts of money quite happily. The love between Gomez and Morticia is even more passionate than before, and it can be said that it was the movies that really made Wednesday the homicidally terrifying goth girl supreme she is known as today. She had been a cheerful sort in the original show; now she was cunning, manipulative, and you can only imagine that were she to come across a demon demanding she bow to him, that demon would soon find himself running quicky in the opposite direction.
I haven’t even started to look into the many areas that this franchise – because it is a franchise – has expanded to include, and already I feel like I’m weighing you down with information, dear readers. There have – to date – been two live action tv shows, two animated television shows, two feature length films, two made for television movies, two animated movies, five video games, a pinball machine, and in recent years, even a Broadway musical, all set around the Addams Family. What is it about these dark creatures that keeps us coming back?
… Well, it’s probably that for all of their love of the dark and spooky, when it comes down to it, the Addamses are the sort of people you’d want to know. They’re a loving, caring family, who do their best to help their friends and neighbours, and who always have a good story to tell. If you’re lucky enough to be considered amongst their friends, then you will be for life – and even into the afterlife, knowing the Addamses.
There’s also that appeal of the supernatural to them, of the safely dark. They are human, yes, but there’s just something different about each of them, and despite it all, we can’t help but forever curious about it. Wednesday is that girl that – at some point – every girl wants to be, and who wouldn’t want the romance of Gomez and Morticia? And that’s not even touching on the other members of the family – Lurch’s stoic deadpan nature, Fester’s insane mad scientist appeal, even Thing’s ever-helpful chipperness. It is hard to find a member of the family that you won’t end up liking.
They’re creepy, and kooky, and yeah, they’re a bit spooky.
They’re the Addams Family.
Z. McAspurren (*snap snap*)