Sunday, January 17, 2010

Vitally Important Blog: MUNSTERS VS. ADDAMS FAMILY

A friend and I were recently discussing the merits, and differing value of TV's 2 great monster families... and, perhaps ill-advisedly, I promised to blog on the subject.

SO HERE WE GO, KIDS: The Question:

"Which was the better show, 'The Munsters' or 'The Addams Family,' and more importantly, WHY?"

Well FIRST, here are some of the distinct differences between the two seemingly similar shows, which, interstingly, both lasted two seasons ... and even had their original runs the EXACT same two years [1964-1966] way back when I was just a babe and a toddler.

While both shows sort of... mocked the family unit that was seen on typical sitcoms at the time, they did so in two different ways. "The Munsters" basically replaced each member of the stereotypical TV family unit with characters from horror movies, but these characters still maintained their very human roles, though their "monstrous" qualities usually played into the storyline.

"The Addams Family" was similar, in respect to mocking the family unit, but the dynamic of the family was less typical. Instead of them trying to be the same as everyone else-- to blend in-- they in fact celebrated their eccentricities... really flew their "Freak Flags," so to speak.

For these reasons, the shows attracted [and still attract] different kinds of viewers. In fact I must say... I discovered a LOT of opinion on this important issue all over the internet!

For example, one blogger maintains that the shows attract different and opposing demographics altogether. "The Munsters," according to this fella, attract forthright, honest, ingenuous, engaging and open-minded viewers! In fact, this guy even went as far to say that these Munster's viewers seem to have had happier childhoods. [Huh??]   He further believes that lovers of "The Addams Family" are "left-of-center, culturally elitist, college-educated, somewhat counter-culture and strident in their opinons."

Wow! I would love to see the that guy's "research." :P

Well, in any case... which show did you prefer?

For me it was a surprisingly difficult choice, but I guess-- if pressed-- I would say I lean slightly toward Herman and Lily Munster and family.

Now don't get me wrong... The Addamses did have some cool stuff going for them! I mean, that individualistic streak is cool in its way, to be sure... how could it not warm my old beatnick heart?

And... I gotta say this: I really like the positive depiction of marital love-- I'm talking about how Gomez is always presented as so incredibly and visibly HOT for his wife, Morticia.  Seriously! Check out how he is constantly fondling her and calling her those Spanish pet names! Honestly... they are easily the most passionate married couple in all of classic TV... by far.

Also... I really like Lurch and Cousin It. Those were great touches... That "You Raaaaang?" thing is totally awesome!

But frankly, at the same time... those 2 kids leave me bitterly cold!  I mean, they are just WAY too creepy for me. You have to admit, Eddie and Marylin Munster [ooh lah lah ] were never actually creepy.

And this serves to bring us to the really big difference between the two families: The Munsters were basically a funny and nice Monster family, really kind of like a comic book or a cartoon, while the Addamses had this very real and sometimes genuinely disturbing streak of actual creepiness.

For example, I remember once, while watching at a friend's house in high school back in the early '80s, kind of doing a double-take at this scene of Morticia whipping Gomez [and I mean fully clothed of course but with an actual leather horse whip!] and of course Gomez is really getting off on it! My friend and I were like: HUH??? [And I distinctly remember this, by the way... I haven't seen it in years but I am dang sure it's on the DVD!]

Now THAT is some stuff you never saw on I LOVE LUCY...

So, in a way I can see why the Addamses seem to be more popular in almost all of these internet discussions. I mean, they have this... "edge," you know? Sort of like all these adult cartoons nowadays.

Still... I choose the Munsters because the whole premise on that show was that these folks were actually a nice, well-meaning, and functioning family, no matter how creepy they looked.

I kind of like that premise. There's actually a moral there, I think.

Also, the sheer decadence of the Addamses can actually be TOO real sometimes, especially when you consider that they were actually played as idle rich tycoons who daily made a killing on the Stock Market... [remember Gomez watching his ticker tapes with glee all the time?]

Frankly, there is just something so real about THAT, that it is truly uncomfortable to me!

Now the Munsters, on the other hand, were presented as a working class family [remember Herman with his lunch-pail and hard-helmet?] and also as honest immigrants from a foreign country [Transylvania] who loved the USA and believed whole-heartedly in honesty and fair play. By the end of each episode, they had usually won their creeped-out neighbors and co-workers over with their winsome generosity and good-hearted nature.

To be really honest about it all, though,  I think what really pulled me over to the Munster side were two incidental things: the theme song and the cool cars. That song was cool. It's actually been covered by many Surf bands through the ages, recently by Los Straitjackets. And who could forget Grandpa's roadster "Drag-ula?" If you need to put "street cred" on the Munster side, the cars on that show were designed by George "batmobile" Barris himself, and they still attract crowds today. [I saw the actual "Munster Koach" in Tucson once about three years ago... cooler than a polar bear's toenail!]

So those are my thoughts.

Please, feel free to chime in.



KW said...

I'm always too chicken to admit which one I like better. It's a good war-starter like Kirk vs Picard, or Joel vs Mike on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Albie The Good said...

True, KW... very volatile subjects, these. Most of the world couldn't care less... but when 2 of us geeks hit on such differences the sparks can truly fly! LOL

Personally, I am firmly in the Kirk camp on the ST dilemma... mainly because-- though I admit to having always been a casual "trekkie' at best-- I must say that Shatner's over-acting and strange "mock-Shakespearean" presence is, and always has been, precisely what makes STAR TREK for me.

I am, however, on the proverbial fence about Joel and Mike. Joel was a great wit I loved to listen to... then Mike grew on me... and then I sort of got tired of the whole thing, especially after I discovered the internet fan-base that show! Seriously these guys [and they ARE invariably male] are hands-down the most uber-irritating bunch of geeks in all of geekdom! [And that is saying SOMETHING! lol]

Anyway, thanks for visiting, KW... I have loved your blog for quite a while.

Anonymous said...

Both shows may have reflected some sort of backlash against the ultra-wholesome sitcoms of the early 1960's (e.g. Leave It to Beaver). The same thing happened in the '80's; Married with Children was nicknamed "Not the Cosbys." Anyway, I guess the anti-elitist in me prefers the working class Munsters to the idle rich Addams Family. And those Addams kids WERE creepy. They looked like they were in shock or PTSD.

Albie The Good said...

Oh yeah, anonymous... those kids were out there! Thanks for commenting :)