High-concept TV was the name of the game back on television in the 1960s. Classic TV was filled with talking horses (Mr. Ed), witches, genies, and martians living among us (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Favorite Martian), nuns who could take flight thanks to their unique habit (The Flying Nun), and an annoying mom reincarnated as her son's car (My Mother the Car). And then there were two unique horror-themed sitcoms in the form of The Addams Family and The Munsters.
What's interesting about those two shows is that neither ripped off the other, as they ended up repremiering the same year (1964) and being cancelled two years later. And while they were similar on surface levels, they each took a unique approach to the material. The Addams Family was based on the cartoons of Charles Addams that appeared in The New Yorker, while The Munsters took its inspiration from Universal's classic horror films that ruled the box office decades earlier.
Macabre is the best word to describe The Addams Family, which, beyond offering up one of TV's great theme songs, brought to life Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, and Pugsley Addams, as well as assorted relatives that would come to visit. They didn't terrorize anyone, more than happy living their lives and wondering why people would react so strangely to them. Actually, that's one thing both series have in common — the Munsters (which had fun with its horror history) consisted of Frankenstein monster Herman, his vampiress wife, Lily; her vampire Grandpa (who we were led to believe is actually Dracula); Herman and Lily's son, Eddie "Wolfgang" Munster, who's a werewolf; and their beautiful, perfectly normal-looking niece Marilyn, who is considered the freak of the family. Each of them thought they were perfectly normal as well, all the problems they encountered being society's fault.
And here we are more than 50 years after both shows aired their final episodes, and people are still talking about them. Hopefully our guide will go some way in explaining why these spooky families will forever be beloved and how to tell the show's apart if you can't already tell the difference between them!