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What I Learned from Watching The Addams Family Television Show
And What You Can Learn, Too!
Everything we see or hear goes into our brains and becomes a part of us. Therefore, it's important for us to understand and appreciate the not-so-obvious messages that our favorite television shows are teaching us. Fortunately, one of my favorite television shows, The Addams Family, taught me numerous positive lessons when I was a child. (The movie, The Addams Family Values, did the series a disservice in that it downplayed these important lessons by the sarcastic tone of the title and the narcissistic emphasis of the characters.) When I watched the series again as an adult, I saw that I had unconsciously adopted a number of values from the series (more about this later). So if your children want to watch the program, here's what they might learn.
Be prompt: Lurch always appeared immediately when summoned, even from remote parts of the house, and often before the gong actually rang, and sometimes anticipated what the family needed. Thing always appeared with the mail a second or two after the mailbox alarm sounded. It (Thing is referred to in the credits as "Itself") also often anticipated what people needed, handing the phone to people when they intended to make a call, or having a light or a pen ready. Because of their promptness, the affairs of the family ran smoothly.
The effect on me, fifty years later: I am a very punctual person. As a result, my business and personal life run smoothly.
Be cooperative: While Lurch or Thing may have had doubts, both always cooperated with others, even when those doubts were evident. Lurch helped Wednesday practice her ballet.
The effect on me, fifty years later: I love diving into new projects with friends, whether the project benefits them, or me, or both. We always end up having a good time (even if there's a bit of shouting in the middle) and we get things done in time to have a glass of wine afterwards!
Be courteous: Whether to strangers or to family members, every member of the Addams family is unfailingly polite. The sheer number of times "Thank you" is said in any one episode ought to be enough to make any family take notice.
The effect on me, fifty years later: One of the ways I stand out is that I am remarkably polite, and even relative strangers remark on it. If you had a choice to be noticed for either rudeness or courtesy, which would you pick?
Show gratitude: Whether it is Morticia's air of unflappable mild surprise as she says, "Thank you," whether to Thing, Lurch, or a family member, or Gomez's enthusiastic expressions of thanks, I have seen the phrase uttered as many as ten times in a single half-hour.
The effect on me, fifty years later: I try to show gratitude to people who help me: the maintenance men for my apartment complex, who rush to fix my problems before anyone else's; my employees, who will work overtime to solve problems or get work done; my clients, who give me enthusiastic testimonials; and my family, who are always ready to go the extra mile.
Wednesday Teaches Ballet to Lurch
Despite her parents' watchful interference, Wednesday is strong enough to flip her father in judo. I think she might have been able to do it.
See this amazing series for yourself!
Learn a foreign language: Gomez has daily Latin hour; Morticia speaks French. The ability to speak in multiple languages is presented in a very positive light.
The effect on me, fifty years later: I started Latin when I was twelve; I learnt French in college. I did well in both subjects, as well as Italian, German, and Czech. All were required for my degree.
Play an instrument: Lurch plays harpsichord; Morticia sings and plays the shamisen; Thing plays castanets.
The effect on me, fifty years later: Like Ophelia, I grew up to be an opera singer!
Learn a sport: Fencing, archery, polo, and other team and solo sports get their fair due.
The effect on me, fifty years later: I was never very good at sports, but I did learn fencing and archery!
Be supportive: The family always supports each other in their endeavors, and give each other plenty of encouragement. They find ways to praise each other, even when the overall effort fails. In addition, each time a family member wants to learn a skill, the others always rush in to help him or her. Just think of all the dance lessons Lurch had!
The effect on me, fifty years later: I can find ways to encourage my students and employees by finding something good to say about their work, before I start talking about what can be improved.
Be enthusiastic: Whether it is Uncle Fester blowing things up with dynamite, Gomez wrecking his trains, Pugsley inventing something, or Morticia with just about everything she does, enthusiasm is pervasive.
The effect on me, fifty years later: Whether it's an interview, an audition, or a project, enthusiasm is contagious, and helps others see that you care about what you're doing. Today, it's called "passion," a business buzzword.
Be empathetic: Every member of the family tries hard to put themselves in others' shoes, whether it be a family member or an outsider. They are adept at making an effort to see a situation from someone else's point of view, even if in the series they are usually mistaken.
The effect on me, fifty years later: my clients, students, and employees are happy working with me, because I do my best to see things from their point of view, too.
Which is the most important lesson to learn from this series?
Today's television shows are quite different, as they tend to be centered around narcissistic and self-absorbed characters. Now don't get me wrong; I like a lot of these shows as they are quite funny (the closest series to The Addams Family on television today is The Neighbors). But children model their own behavior on what they see, and you might want to provide them (and yourself) with an alternative. If you're looking for just such an alternative, The Addams Family might provide just what you want!