How 'The Addams Family' Totally Gets BDSM Relationships Right

Since Fifty Shades of Grey — both the novel series and the film — burst onto the scene, BDSM and elements of kink have made their way into more mainstream conversations concerning people's sex lives. But Fifty Shades has its critics. Some say it promotes abuse, while others reject its idea of feminism. And while over the years, other films, like the Maggie Gyllenhaal drama Secretary, have showed better grasp of BDSM relationships, few have truly been great examples. Yet there is one film that hits the nail on the head — and it's probably not the one you'd expect. I'm talking about The Addams Family, a kids' film which, despite its genre, features a functioning BDSM relationship between Gomez and Morticia Addams.

The Addams Family first appeared as a comic strip in The New Yorker before being adapted into a campy television series in 1964. The Gomez and Morticia of the TV show had an incredibly intense air of romance about them. It was, and still is, surprising to see an on-air couple — one with two children, no less — pine for one another, grasp at each other, and long for each other after years of marriage. And while the 1960s series couldn't go very far into anything scandalous in terms of romance, having to keep a toned-down, family friendly vibe, the 1990s film series could take things a bit further. As part of their intense romance, the Gomez and Morticia of 1991's The Addams Family and 1993's Addams Family Values have a bit of added kink and playful sexuality which suggests a healthy BDSM relationship.

The duo's shared BDSM tendencies are evident from their very first scene together. Gomez and Morticia have awakened from slumber, and Morticia has a few words about her husband's behavior the previous night: "Last night you were unhinged. You were like some desperate, howling demon. You frightened me," she says, exasperated, before adding the kicker, "Do it again." And while many BDSM relationships have a decided upon "dominant" and "submissive," based on each partner's preferred role, Morticia and Gomez seem to both fall into what are called "switch" roles, in that at any given time, either of them could assume the dominant role and the other the submissive. Were it just for that initial scene, I'd think Gomez the dominant one, but Morticia exudes her own authority a number of time throughout the film, particularly when she says, "Don't torture yourself Gomez. That's my job." After which Gomez tosses her a look of such desire that a screenshot of his face should be hung in the Museum of Sex.

Later, Gomez and Morticia's experience with kink even helps them in the movie's conflict. When Tully and Fester's fake mother Abigail takes over the Addams mansion, Tully straps Morticia to a stretching rack to torture information out of her. But his plan gloriously backfires. In a fulfillment of the "too kinky to torture" trope, Morticia actually enjoys being stretched, and jokingly says to Tully, "You've done this before!" When Gomez arrives to rescue her, he isn't enraged that his wife has been strapped to a torture device, but rather turned on at her very appearance. And unlike in the television show, where many times Morticia is seen rejecting Gomez's wild dog advances, it's clear here that she's enjoying it all just as much as he is. She may still have to delay gratification, but it's with a wink of seduction, rather than a sigh of frustration.

These moments may be just tiny elements of what is essentially a family film, but just as the movie takes great steps to normalize weirdness, darkness, and what many might consider odd behavior, it does the same with alternative sexual interests. Gomez and Morticia are a "strange" couple that do "strange" things, as considered by a mainstream outlook, but their devotion, love, and faithfulness to one another make their relationships just as valid and true. And by highlighting a few kinks and sexual deviances within their extremely loving relationship, the movies are declaring that BDSM relationships are also just as worthy as non-BDSM ones, which is a pretty great message from a silly Halloween movie. So instead of looking to Fifty Shades of Grey for what a real BDSM relationship could be, you might have better luck with this quirky Halloween flick from the '90s.

Images: Paramount, Giphy

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