The Munsters, soon to be rebooted by Rob Zombie, is a 1960s sitcom that gained attention when a YouTube clip with a civil rights message went viral.
It might interest some to learn how The Munsters became an unlikely civil rights icon that is still relevant today. The Munsters Originally broadcast on CBS from 1964 to 1966 during the heyday of the civil rights movement in the United States. At the time, the show was incredibly popular and even broke The Addams Family weekly audience according to Nielsen data at the time. It was only canceled after ABC released their new hit show, Batman, which featured bright colors and a whimsical charm that captivated audiences. However, The Munsters remains a cult classic and will return to center stage in Rob Zombie’s Restarting the Munsters.
The Munsters told the story of a loving family of Transylvanian monsters and their over-the-top antics trying to fit into their quaint suburban community. Fred Gwynne starred as Herman Munster, a hilarious parody of Frankenstein’s monster, as well as Yvonne De Carlo as Lily and Al Lewis as grandfather. The show also starred Pat Priest and Beverly Owen as the Munsters’ young niece, Marilyn, whose conventual beauty was considered grotesque by Munster standards. This recurring gag turned the tables on what is supposed to be a normal to excellent comedic effect.
In fact, it is this satirical nature of the series that has enabled its recent revival on social media. There is one clip in particular that has been hugely popular in which Herman Munster gives a heartfelt speech over dinner. This recent popularity has brought to light the characters in the series and their values, especially their rejection of normalcy. The Munsters became an unlikely civil rights icon because the series was able to express a progressive message of equality through one of the best comedy series of the time.
This Youtube extract of The Munsters, Season 1, Episode 19 is a prime example of the show’s equality message. It presents a clear rebuke of racism, which in 1965 was an incredibly salient issue. Unfortunately, this message is still relevant, hence its immense popularity on YouTube with variations of the clip accumulating nearly a million views. The speech crowns an episode that saw Eddie (Butch Patrick) attempt to change after being bullied for his height. However, instead of magically growing six inches, Eddie grows a beard, which will only incite further bullying. Eddie’s desire to fit in is what drives Herman’s words of wisdom and his denunciation of inequality. Herman’s speech goes to the heart of the matter and leaves no room for interpretation.
While the context of the clip might seem silly and insignificant, it still provided the show with an opportunity to comment on an issue that Americans faced on a daily basis. One could even argue that The Munsters was uniquely placed to talk about civil rights and integration issues. After all, the whole show revolved around the concept of being an alien; Therefore, The Munsters constantly taught his viewers not to base their judgment on outward appearances, but to look within. It’s easy to see how the clip gained popularity and was used to promote a more enlightened mindset. This rise in popularity of the speech only adds to Rob Zombie’s anticipation The Munsters reboot and its cultural significance.
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