Fright Aficionado: America’s Spookiest TV Families

It has been over 55 years since America was first introduced to The Addams Family and The Munsters. Both shows premiered in 1964, and fans of the macabre could call these two TV families their own. On Friday, September 18, 1964, The Addams Family premiered on ABC. Six days later, The Munsters came out of their coffins on CBS. 

The Addams Family was based on a series of cartoons from the 1930s by Charles Addams. Viewers got to see a dark, gothic mansion that stood out in its small town. Inside lived a family that unintentionally terrorized their neighborhood. There was a vampy housewife named Morticia Addams. The family’s butler, Lurch, resembled Frankenstein’s monster. Their house pet, Kitty, was a domesticated lion. They lived by their own rules, oblivious to how the rest of the world saw them, and were completely one of a kind. The series captured the funny tone of Addams’ cartoons and was an advert for nonconformity. Shot in black and white, the show ran for two seasons, in a total of 64 half-hour episodes. 

In comparison, The Munsters was CBS’ attempt to compete with The Addams Family. Viewers who tuned in would see a completely different gothic house that stood out from a completely different small town. Inside lived a family who also unintentionally terrorized their neighborhood. There was a ghoulish housewife named Lily Munster. The family’s patriarch, Herman, resembled Frankenstein’s monster. Their house pet, Spot, was a domesticated dragon. They believed themselves to be living by society’s rules, completely oblivious to how the rest of the world saw them. The series was also shot in black and white, due to the fact that color filming at the time would have cost an additional $10,000 per episode. The series also ran for two seasons, for a total of 70 half-hour episodes. The Munsters were created by the same team behind Leave It to Beaver. The creative team of Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher meant for the show to be a nice slice of down-home Americana, with monsters. 

Though both families were wildly different, they were both considered outsider families, but for completely different reasons. The Munsters, though they had strange customs to the outside world, ultimately behaved and lived like a traditional nuclear family, whereas the Addamses had no interest in fitting into the traditional family structure. 

The Addams Family and The Munsters might have been products of the 1960s, but both can give us a lesson on what it means to be a family today. You don’t have to necessarily fit into society. In the words of Herman Munster…

The Addams Family and The Munsters complete seasons are available at the Auburn Hills Public Library for check out. 

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