The Addams Family premiered on ABC on September 18th, 1964, and disrupted the mediocrity of family life displayed on classic sitcoms currently airing on television. While other great shows like The Munsters premiered around the same time, there was a way in which the Addams came together as a family that shifted television and set the foundation for a fuller appreciation of how family dynamics ebb and flow.
The plethora of entitled and yet mediocre families in sitcoms from the 1950s, 60s, and further decades never cease to continue to be fawn over as an example of family structure and bonding. We get it you like the Cleavers from Leave it to Beaver, but I can guarantee those kids grow up to storm the U.S. Capitol. Those families like the Cleavers contain some toxic and incredible upsetting dynamics. Mom acts as just that…a mother and wife restricted like a cinched waist robot. The kids aren't equal in whatever shenanigans they wish to get up to, the boys are praised, and the girls refrain from stepping over those gendered lines. And the father tends to be an uptight asshole.
The Addams Family included true individuals connected and caring for one another not simply because of blood relations but because they liked one another. The kids, Wednesday and Pugsley, liked having fun and playing together even if they disagreed or fought as siblings do. The extended family resided with the Addams and Lurch, their butler, was like family before Gomez and Morticia even got together. Uncle Fester and Grandmama are like a support to the entire family and loved through and through for aspects of them that would be deemed as flaws by society at large.
Shows like Father Knows Best become dismissive of anything beyond a structure centered on a strict way to raise a family. Because of the father, there seemed to always be a lot of fear-driven responses underneath the façade of obedience and complacency from the kids when facing assigned responsibilities or life purposes. Each family seemed like a copy of one another and so incredibly boring it's insane. The Addams Family may have initially been deemed the "black sheep" of the sitcom world, but in reality, they were ahead of their time in the ways they respected their children, showed a healthy and loving marriage, and viewed themselves in a way that helped their self esteems profit and flourish.
While the men of sitcoms continued to look like thumbs and possess the charisma of a piece of soggy toast, Gomez offered devotion to his loved ones and carved out a place for himself in the world in which he never apologized for doing so. As the fear of stepping out of line controlled the narrative for women in sitcoms, Morticia showed everyone not to settle for less and to continue to strive towards being the best version of themselves, to be THAT bitch. And the kids reminded even the adults to be themselves and to have fun with life in the way it suits you. You don't have to be an exact replica of The Addams Family, the family themselves wouldn't even want that for you. Instead, we have got to remind ourselves to look outside the box in which older classic sitcoms attempted to contain us. So fuck the expectations of the Cleavers and the Andersons, they're mediocre at best.