Social distancing has been an excellent time to revisit some of my favorite films and mingle with some of my best friends — i.e., the characters. And one protagonist I’ve always longed to forge a friendship with is Morticia Addams.
When I think of a woman who contains multitudes, she’s one of the first who come to mind. The Addams family’s towering matriarch is in charge of her domain. She’s smart, confident, and sexually liberated. She’s devoted to her family, but knows the importance of caring for her own needs like finding the time to “seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.” So for the love of Morticia, here’s some wisdom she’s given us.
Sex & BDSM
It’s a running joke throughout the franchise that Gomez and Morticia are passionately in love and passionately horny. But their relationship is not partial to Gomez’s needs. Tish knows what turns her on and openly communicates her fervour — “Gomez, last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate howling demon. You frightened me. Do it again!” She shows us that a BDSM relationship can be safe, consensual, and respectful. They enthuse over handcuffs and medieval torture devices. When Gomez mentions “the old ball and chain,” she coyly responds that she’ll go get them. Snap snap for equality in the bedroom.
Now let me tell you a somethin’ about being an Addams. They are as thick as thieves and they protect each other to the end. Their burdens aren’t unilateral. Morticia and Gomez share parenting responsibilities. They attend parent-teacher nights together. They sit through a lame school play.
They rally in a time of crisis, like when they couldn’t find Wednesday after a party: “Fan out. Pugsley, head for the dung heap. Mama and Morticia, the shallow graves. I’ll take the abyss. Lurch, check out the bottomless pit.” They take time for their shared interests and personal ones.
In contrast to 21st century helicopter parenting, Morticia’s style is more hands-off. She encourages independence. She allows Wednesday and Pugsley to play with sharp objects and explosives unattended.
However, her laissez-faire child-rearing sensibilities do not mean she isn’t an engaged parent. She’s supportive and respectful of her children’s interests even when she doesn’t understand them, like when they allegedly wanted to go to summer camp.
Morticia is also a direct in her communication. For instance, when the “where do babies come from?” subject comes up in conversation, Wednesday casually mentions that her parents:
Moments like these illustrate how Morticia is preparing Wednesday to be equally empowered when in comes to sex.
Both The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values pass the Bechdel Test. The majority of the films’ main characters are women who talk about an array of things that aren’t boys, like witchcraft, homicide, and strong role models.
Morticia is so naturally gothic, it’s as if Max Factor and Black no. 1 are in her DNA. With a wardrobe full of black lace, a sleek black mane, a full face of makeup, and a sharp manicure, Tish knows her style and sticks to a uniform. Fun fact: for the filming of the 1991 and 1993 films, the makeup artists attached strings with spirit gum to the outside courners of Anjelica Huston’s eyes and anchored the strings on her head in order to give her eyes the slanted look that Morticia has in the original cartoon. Considering Morticia is an expert in hexes and spells, I wish we had more insight into her grooming habits.
She prefers stems to flowers. Rain to sunshine. Indoors to outdoors.
Asks For What She Needs
In The Addams Family Values, Morticia becomes a mother of three. And, “just like any modern woman trying to have it all,” she’s starting to feel like she’s burning the candle at both ends. During one foggy stroll through the family graveyard, Gomez asks her if she’s happy and she openly communicates the sisyphean balancing act of devoting time to oneself and one’s family. But before she even mentions needing help, Gomez is more than happy to accommodate. The next day, they begin interviewing caregivers.
Woman Of Many Talents
A degree in hexes and spells is particularly useful when you have many passions like Morticia. She’s so good at dancing she literally sets the floor on fire. She paints, plays violin, throws knives. She’s well-versed in herbs and chemicals. Morticia, teach me, please.
She’s Fair But Don’t Mess With Her
During a tour of the family graveyard, Morticia points to a tomb inscibed with, “Our credo: Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc,” which is Latin for:
Addams women can’t be silenced.
Own Your Weirdness
In a world full of Buicks, Morticia is a hearse. At more conventional gatherings, she stands out as weird and freakish.
When the family was driven out of town by crooked accountants, she announced to a dejected Gomez, “Yes, we’ve been forced from our home. Yes, we’ve been betrayed by those we trusted. But we are Addams, and we will not submit.” Morticia could probably concoct a potion for self-esteem. Just add a pinch of snake venmon and a major dose of “who gives a fuck?”
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