Al Lewis died yesterday. I am of the generation that grew up with the Munsters (and Adam 12 and Good Times and Chico and the Man and… can you tell the television was a primary companion in my formative years?). I’m feeling an odd sense of loss.
I saw an episode of the Munsters on TVland the other day and was immediately sucked in. It’s not really all that funny, at least, not to my 37 year old self. My inner child delighted in it, though, and I have to say that grown up I am now had an almost sublime appreciation for Grampa’s sarcasm.
As a little girl, I thought that the show was all about Herman. His bumbling innocence always got him into trouble, and it was up to Grampa and Lily to figure out how to rescue him. Of course, Grampa always did everything he had to to make things “right”, but he never did it without first rolling his eyes and wondering out loud why Lily married such an oaf. Even when he was practically at wits’ end, though, it was obvious that his family was most important to him, and that’s why I loved him.
The Munsters taught me a lot about diversity, maybe even more than Good Times or Sanford and Son or All In The Family. The Munsters didn’t have a cultural history of oppression to carry like the Evans family or the Jeffersons did. They weren’t different because of the color of their skin (be it green or off-grey); they were different because they were different. They took the lovely Marilyn in as a charity case – poor baby, just LOOK at her; it’s the least we can do to give the poor wretch a loving home. They were surprised when people went screaming from the theatre when they arrived in their modified hearse. It was all wonderfully concieved and enthusiastically acted, and I loved it.
So, goodbye, Grampa. There is a generation of thirty-somethings who are noting your passing and wishing you Godspeed.