Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Addams Family or The Munsters?

Growing up a fan of all things spooky and creepy as I did, there's one eternal question I had to face, like so many other young creepsters. Which show was better, The Addams Family or The Munsters? It's a tricky subject because there really isn't any kind of easy answer. We're dealing with two beloved series that nearly everyone in existence has some bit of love for. This means the likelihood of me getting lynched here by angry fans is quite high.

Then again, I'm not really a stranger to "triggering" fanboy rage, am I?

Right off the bat, I want to make something entirely clear here: I love both of the families of groovy ghoulies. My comments in regards to all of this are just based on my personal opinions regarding both shows and things related to them. If you have your own opinion, bully for you. Feel free to go on about it in the comments. For now though, we're here to talk about my own opinion in regards to the royal families of the graveyard scene.

Not the most lively of scenes out there, but then if it were we'd probably be in a wee bit of trouble.
Let's take a look at our families, starting with the Addams Family, arguably the more popular of the two. Created in 1938 by cartoonist Charles Addams, they were meant to be a sort of satire regarding the ideal nuclear family unit. They were the perfect family turned on its head, letting a more dark sense of humour shine through. Initially, they were nothing more than one panel strips. Short gags to poke fun at the norms. The family as we know them though were brought to life in 1964 and, oddly enough, ran for 64 episodes. Weird. Is there an Addams Family conspiracy?

The truth is in Cousin It's hair.
They made appearances in animated form too, in both the New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972) and their own animated series (1973-1975), with them only getting more live-action stuff in the form of a pilot for a variety show and a single Halloween special. We wouldn't get more of them until 1991's highly successful reboot film, highlighting once more that something being a reboot or remake is not defining of the quality of the product itself. The new film got a sequel that was also quite good and a rather entertaining (though mostly forgotten) new animated series were the characters were drawn to more closely resemble the original Charles Addams art style. Sadly, it all came to an end following the death of Raul Julia, the new Gomez Addams, as the franchise began once more spiraling with a lackluster straight to video film and an even less impressive new live-action series.

Even sadder is the fact that I almost thought this image was for the porn parody. Seriously.
On the other side, we've got the Munsters, a series that also premiered in 1964 and highlighted a creepy family. But there was a large difference between them and the Addams Family, as the former family looked largely normal with the macabre humour instead coming from their actions, habits, and lifestyle. No, the Munsters were very different in that they mostly acted like a normal American family you'd see on most sitcoms...except they were all literally monsters. At its core, that's the gag of the series entirely: they're a family of monsters trying to be normal in a judgemental world. It's a damn good hook too. Simple and effective with a great overall aesthetic that hovers between normal and creepy. They also had some specials and had pretty nice revival in the form of pilot that sadly didn't get picked up. Overall, it is the perfect thing for a young horror fan to be drawn into.

It's like they threw Halloween into a blender with Leave It to Beaver.
But, which show did it better? Both are great in their own respects, but it's a discussion that invariably always leads to fans at each others' throats. Now, I'm going to compare a few things here that I think are central to what makes a show of this nature great and we will go from there, alright? Firstly, let's talk the theme. No, not the overall aesthetic, but the song that leads us into the show proper. Both series have great themes that are total earworms but after a lot of thought, there really does feel like a clear winner here to me. The Munsters. Their theme song is so representative of both the music of the time and of the show itself. It has these groovy beats and blaring horns, emitting an energy about it that is very representative of the show. It's by far one of the best television themes ever.

I'm still trying to figure out what the Munsters theme has to do with Uma Thurman though.
The Addams Family theme is great, but it doesn't really have the same energy to it, being more slow paced and instead drilling into your head through the repetitious chorus and snapping. It's hard to pick one over the other, but for this I'm going to have to lean towards the Munsters. It's just too good of a song and is still just as enjoyable out of context as it is in context. Moving on, let's talk characters. The Munsters, as I said, mostly consists of monsters who act very much like a normal loving family, making their appearance the chief draw. Now, here's where I'm definitely going to get burned at the stake. I honestly think that the Munsters are...well, kind of boring as characters.

Now, calm down, Grampa. And please don't rip out my throat.
Okay, I probably worded that wrong. It's not that they're boring, but they're just not as interesting in comparison to the Addams clan. See, the joke with the Munsters hinges on the fact that, as a family, they really are rather mundane. Sure, they're monsters, but they're also fairly average as a family. Meanwhile, over at the Addams household you have swordfighting, exploding trains, uncles with electricity flowing through them, and carnivourous plants. Herman Munster spends a lot of time looking for work while Gomez Addams tosses money around on whatever sparks his fancy. When it comes down to it, the most interesting Munster is Grampa because he's the only one who seems to actively go against formula, being that he's a mad scientist. And I'll be honest, he's why I always came back.

You just know he had a stash of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazines in his lab.
That's two down and we're fairly even, so let's move onto the final and possibly most important factor: which one was funnier? Now, again, this is all based on my own opinion and experiences with both shows (which I actually do still watch), so please attempt not to get immediately offended. A few weeks ago, while I was prepping for all of this, I was up quite late and ended up joining my father as he sat watching some classic television. He was watching The Addams Family, the be specific, and as we sat there watching it we both laughed aloud through some three or four episodes when we began talking about both of these shows. And I remarked something that would get me ousted in some circles: I don't recall really ever laughing at the Munsters. I enjoyed it and still do, but it never really made me laugh outwardly. Yet there I was, loudly laughing at the show it was most often compared to. That was the moment I decided to write this.

Now I'll just sit here and wait for Herman Munster to show up and break me in half.
The Munsters is incredibly charming and I love it completely, but the Addams Family is simply funnier. For me, it's an inescapable truth and I really just wanted to talk about it because it was something I had honestly went my entire life never really thinking about. So, for me personally, I guess I lean more towards the creepy and kooky finger-snapping Addams Family. But ultimately, it was never about which was better, because I don't think I could say which one really is. There are so many things to love about both shows that I never even talked about. From Lurch's eyeroll to Herman goofy laugh, I could no sooner pick a loved one to toss in a volcano to placate some ancient god than I could pick one of these series to definitively say is better. It's impossible for me. Just thinking about it conjures awkwardness from me equivalent to showing to a party and finding out it wasn't what you thought it was going to be.

Weirdest orgy ever.
I hope we can all agree that both of these shows are treasures and can enjoy them in our own ways. Preferably without anyone murdering one another, as is the new social norm in the geek circles. Whether you prefer the Munsters or the Addams Family, the point is that there is no wrong choice. Be happy, enjoy your creepy kooky sitcoms, and don't put on a witch's shawl unless she consents. You really don't want to piss of any witches. Later days, bleeders.

Now go watch some re-runs!

No comments:

Post a Comment