Friday, November 8, 2013

REPOST: The Addams Family: The most well-adjusted family on television?

Self-Esteem--Internal Validation and External Validation

Every Halloween, I seem to end up in at least one discussion comparing The Addams Family to The Munsters, the two royal families of spooky B&W era TV. I always have fun looking for the psychological archetypes in things like this, in this case, specifically the issue of personal validation. Some people get the approval they need for to develop a positive self-image from within themselves (usually by meeting their own goals and principles) and those people are often called "internally validated". Other people get the cues to develop their positive self-image from outside themselves, in terms of accolades from friends and family, meeting societal goals, making money or winning prizes.To me, there's a clear divide between these two royal families, and my discussion usually goes something like this:

The Munsters/Addams divide is very interesting. On one level, the Munsters were a campy stereotype immigrant family, while the Addams' were strictly old-money. Two different spins on the American experience. On another level, the Munsters are "externally validated" and live entirely for the approval of others. The Addams are "internally validated" and totally comfortable with themselves as long as they live up to their own standards. The Munsters are ashamed of their unique qualities, while the Addams' celebrate and enjoy them. (Only Grandpa Munster is unabashed, and continually has to be reigned in).

I'd even go so far as to say that you can learn a lot about a person's own system of validation, and the way that feel about their own place within society based on which TV show they prefer. In my experience, Business people, early risers, team sports players and dog owners all seem to like The Munsters while artists, night owls, individual sports players and cat fanciers see to prefer The Addams Family. (of course, that's meant with a little silliness involved, don't take it too seriously!).

Anyway, I just came across this fun post on another blog, and thought I'd share it with you. Whaddaya think?

Nicked from NESSBOW.COM

The Addams Family: The most well-adjusted family on television?

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 in front of others.  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 persuits, 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.

Sibling rivalry?
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.

Extended family.
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 imbedded 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.

1 comment:

  1. I always preferred the Addams Family, because they were having fun. The motherly admonitions of Morticia were never "Don't get hurt!" but "Don't forget the blasting caps!"

    There was also a wide streak of personal responsibility. Break something, you fix it. Build something, then destroy it? Sure, it's yours to do with as you wish.

    I would also like to point out the simple politeness of the Addams Family. It was _always_ "please", "thank you", and such. When Thing brought the mail in, it was treated as a kindness offered, not a task performed.