John Astin claims that the original Addams Family ended thanks to Adam West’s Batman

It’s almost impossible to talk about the original 1964 “The Addams Family” without mentioning the other 1964 TV show that also features a family of outcasts: “The Munsters.” During their heyday, both of these monster-centric sitcoms hit the same timeslot but on different networks, forcing viewers to choose sides. If you were Team Addams, you most likely loved the macabre antics of Morticia and Gomez and their two weird kids, Wednesday and Pugsley, but if you were Team Munster, you probably enjoyed sitcom antics with a slightly more real monster.

“The Addams Family” – which is based on “The New Yorker” cartoon created by Charles Addams – depicts a family of outcasts who love all things dark and dangerous (the family owns a pet lion named Kitty Kat, for God’s sake), while the Munsters are actual monsters – Ie. Frankenstein and Dracula and a werewolf son, my God! — live relatively normal, suburban lives. These differences are at the heart of the ever-ongoing debate about which sick family is best (I’m an Addams family sympathizer myself), and the fact that both shows went off the air after roughly the same amount of time despite positive ratings only adds to the discourse.

But what if, along with the never-ending discussion of which family house you’d rather be invited to for dinner, there was another, less scary, more wacky, masked crusader to add to the conversation about why two of the horror households met such an early death? Well, according to John Astin who played Gomez Addams on the original “The Addams Family” show, the TV death of his (and Herman Munster’s) beloved family was largely due CLAP! BANG! POW! the arrival of Adam West’s “Batman”.

A new type of hero in town

When “Batman” first aired on ABC in 1966, it was unlike any other attempt to bring the world of superhero cartoons to television. The show was fun and funny, but it also preached important lessons to viewers like, “Drink your milk!” because this was the 60s and the narrative was that if you didn’t drink milk the regular way back then, you’d apparently never grow or something. According to Den of Geek, the show’s success was largely due to the fact that it was extremely successful in translating the comics of Batman (Adam West) and his faithful sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) into a world ready for television. It was as if the pages had come to life on the screen. Because of this, the viewers were enthralled by the show and they were eager to tune in to watch it.

“Batman” also aired during a period when superhero stories were not the norm. Even though Batman had been translated to the screen in the 40s, the arrival of the new show was still exciting for people, especially since many of the popular shows on the air in the 60s had a decidedly more sinister bent to them. Shows like “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched” existed in the same way that “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” did, so “Batman” gave people a new kind of adventure.

The Addams Family devalued

In an interview with the Television Academy, John Astin – who played Gomez Addams on the show – opened up about his belief that the success of “Batman” is what caused the double downfall of “The Addams Family” and “The Munsters.” Astin explained that he was “shocked” to find out his show got the boot, even going so far as to say, “I think it was just a big accident.” He described how “Batman” began airing at the same time as “The Munsters,” and because the two shows were so tonally different from each other, many viewers became interested in “Batman.” Since “Batman” offered viewers something new thematically (I mean, I never saw Gomez hesitate to dismantle a bomb for fear of killing a few charming ducks) that was in direct competition with “The Munsters,” priorities began to shift .

“‘Batman’ came on with a great rush. It was a storm, and [it was] tough to go up against,” explains Astin, and because the success of “Batman” made things difficult for “The Munsters,” Astin explains that “There was some thought that ‘The Addams Family’ would go away, [as well].” Astin opined that it probably didn’t help that “a lot of the programming people thought of ‘Addams’ and ‘Munsters’ as the same kind of show.”

Whether or not “Batman” is responsible for taking down two of TV’s great monster family titans, one thing is for sure. Lurch would absolutely destroy the Caped Crusader in a dance competition anytime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *