Although a landmark and cutting edge, series many of the casting decisions, references and concepts were heavily limited on account of the period and audience. A lot of themes in the cartoons are not fully explore, most importantly the fact the family are portrayed as mixed race in a white suburb. I want to really focus on this issue within the text. In the original cartoons, the family are viewed as invaders in the suburb (although their house was there first). I intend to concentrate on how to convey the idea of cultural otherness and more holistically take a critical look at the breakdown of American identity in this period.
In 1963 the Rumford act was passed in California that forbade real-estate companies from racially discriminating against house buyers and ultimately controlling the racial makeup of certain communities. The act was quickly reversed, however it marked the beginning of the cause gaining traction and many white Americans during this time felt their domination and authority starting to slip. 1964 to 1966 was an extremely socially turbulent period where attitudes and ideas across America were starting to quickly and dramatically change.
The Addams Family is very light-hearted and satirical look at the very frightening concept of discrimination and how cultural outsiders are assumed to be. In terms of visuals I want to develop the text and characters for modern parameters with an emphasis on detail and texture whilst avoiding the use of the colour black entirely. Today, there are still problems found with using too much black in costume for film and tv so I want to create a dramatic and stormy jewel tone scheme with lots of layering and dense varying of textiles, being aware of the demands of the technology and expectations of a modern audience.
Profiled by Charles Addams as ‘the real head of the family’ this idea is take forward into the tv show strongly, she has absolute authority over her household however not in a domineering sense. She makes all the important decisions not because she demands it rather the family looks to her to make them. She is far more maternal and gentle in her television incarnation with her motherhood being the most significant facet to her character. She nurtures obsessively and intensely, not just her own family but everyone she encounters, including her carnivorous plants and turkey vultures. This nurturing also exhibits in a good intentioned but controlling streak and will micro manage the lives of other adults around her, most notably her butler who she is unusually protective of. She is often shown knitting something for a never seen but always bizarrely shaped relative. She is a romantic, an optimist and a fantasist who expects and assumes the very best from everyone and will sympathetically rationalise any behaviour however overtly impolite. She is generous and is always keen to reward and praise. She is very artistic and an enthusiast for modern art, using mediums like rock sculpting and painting with a Pollock-esque passion. She plays the bagpipes and the shamisen and enjoys tuvan throat singing. Although the matriarch she is not the usual knackered drudge in hair rollers; she retains sensuality and elegance in excess, always beautifully presented no matter the time of day but with an exotic and intimidating air. She is strongly out of place in mid 1960s middle class suburbia; her appearance is often met with some shock especially from women. She has a passionate relationship with her husband and spends a great deal of time with him, dancing and play sword fighting.
He is an incredibly excitable and passionate individual who seems to have endless luck and unbreakable optimism. Everything in his life is met with incredible zest and generosity, he in constantly learning and indulging in some new interest, material disaster is met with creative solution. Like his wife he will blindly project his own good nature onto whoever he meets. He loves to dance, sing, act, trampoline and hang swinging like a parrot from the living room chandelier.
Lurch is introduced as a butler though is more of a general handyman or more so dogsbody. Extremely brawny and delicate at once. He is a very large man but is able to move completely silently and quickly ghost-like and can appear in any room at any time day or night at the pull of the gong. He is very sensitive and artistic, constantly miserable and tired; he is the least intelligent family member and the most intelligent at the same time. He struggles with basic tasks like laundry yet is implied to be able to speak many languages, is a musical virtuoso and is hinted to have some degree of psychic ability. The victim of the family’s constant shenanigans, he is always overworked, taking up the adult responsibilities of the rest of the adult members of the family so they can indulge in a second childhood.
Mr Hilliard is a reoccurring character in the series. He never appears in the original cartoons but he serves as the benevolent antithesis of Gomez. First appearing as a truant officer, he is a very efficient, moral and serious person who has more bravery than the usual acquaintance of the Addams’s but nonetheless assumes the worst and cracks under fear. He has a genuine interest in the children’s wellbeing and is a good and well meaning person. As the series goes on and Hilliard appears two more times, he becomes used to the Addams family and even starts to like them slightly. Later on in the series he unsuccessfully runs for office then is appointed the head of the school board and finally the principal of a highly esteemed private school called Mockridge Hall. His later occupations imply that he was originally an elementary school teacher instead of a police constable like most truant officers of the time. Most likely a resident of the Greenbiar Woodlawn sprawl himself. He represents the ethos of the mid century suburbs, a complacent and polite individual, he seems to have no real character quirks other than being middle aged and still living with his mother. He is not however any sort of antagonist in the series, he s a genuinely good person although week willed and prone to making assumptions. He s never aggressive towards any members of the family - he is very frightened by them, especially Lurch - but never rebounds with attack. He never tries to ruin or get rid of the family but throughout the series would prefer to avoid them.¬¬
The maternal uncle of Morticia, it is not quite clear why he is living in the house, other than he is too lazy to work and too proud to beg, and his over-charitable nephew-in-law is quite happy to support him. Probably the most shocking looking family member and the hardest to explain; he is able to light up a light bulb in his mouth as well as power various electronics. Despite being at the cutting edge of electronics, he is a very old fashioned man who often pines fondly back to the semi-abusive way his father raised him and criticises his niece and nephew for raising the children more sympathetically and refusing to paddle them for misbehaviour. However, he is never unkind to the children and often very affectionate to the point of spoiling them. He only ever vocalisises his child rearing opinions.
She is the head of the Sherwood School in Greenbrier Woodlawn. A conventionally physically endearing and sweet, motherly older woman she has a hidden brutal streak for fantasising about torturing or horsewhipping the school inspector which gives Gomez some trust for her. She is very well spoken and calm even when Hilliard is raving at her and even though she wrongly suspects Hilliard has a problem with alcoholism, treats him with respect and gentleness. She is around 65 – 75 years old
The Principal’s secretary, she only appears once and only has one line but is of similar age and demeanour to Cormstock. She seems to be on a friendship and gossiping terms with her boss.
Wednesday is the youngest child at six years old. She is somewhat too small for her age and slight in build with a fragile but unsettlingly serious demeanour. Coddled by her mother and Father, she is significantly more emotional than her brother and less prone to mischeif but occasionally indulges in bad behaviour. She is very solemn and sensitive and takes after her mother’s tendency to nurture and her father’s partiality to histrionics. She loves animals particularly insects and is often playing out some historical guillotine melodrama with her dolls. A very intelligent and sometimes manipulative child, it is very hard to outsmart her, she has an incredibly strong and stubborn will and is prone to getting her own way. None the less she is kind and gentle with a strong artistic flair for painting trees with human heads and writing poetry dedicated to her pet spider. She is unusually strong and is able to flip her father with a judo hand and once punched a boy her brother’s age in the eye knocking him out for insulting her family. She is close with all members of the family. Her paternal Grandmother and maternal Granduncle are more strict and wise to her behaviour than her parents, although her maternal Grandmother indulges her. She is particularly close to Lurch who acts as a second more stable, much less dramatic but more distant father to her and takes on many of his traits, mostly his dour and miserable demeanour and distinctive icy glare. Due to Lurch’s influence she is much less melodramatic than her father but still very like him. She gets on well with her brother and will play and scheme with him occasionally however both children are very different and very independant. Pugsley is protective over her and doesn’t get jelous possibly due to a lack of interest in getting attention.
Pugsley is the eldest child of the family at eight years old. He is a chubby but very athletic and hyperactive child who like is father is bursting with maddened enthusiasm. He tends to run everywhere. Pugsley’s inherent good streak is exhibited in a worrying work ethic, a want to be a boy scout and adopt puppies -but at heart he still prefers wrestling his octopus. He loves all animals and forges a special bond with a killer gorilla called Gorgo which the family accidentally teaches how to do laundry. He enjoys collecting road signs and hanging them in his bedroom; in the cartoons this is a more malicious act that would induce accidents, but in the series the character is far less antagonistic. He takes after his Granduncle Fester in many ways with a great natural ability in electronics and technology; he often is with a new invention such as a ray gun or anti-gravity machine or is sometimes seen working with the family computer; a UNIVAC II called Wizzo. He has a strong relationship with his younger sister who he often plays and schemes with in various swamps, graveyards and tunnels. He is much less emotional than most of the family and is not known to ever cry or tantrum, possibly a trait he’s taken from Lurch or possibly because he enjoys his own company and is naturally less social than the rest of the family. He has some friends outside of his family, one of which is a boy called Harrold who he unitentionally frightens and has a somewhat shakey friendship with.
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