Witches and vampires and monsters are usually fodder for horror movies or dark dramas, but a few sitcoms over the years have taken elements of the supernatural and put a comedic spin on them. Something about combining the fantastic with the mundane gives these shows a different sort of edge, and even a slight sense of danger. Here are my picks for the top five supernatural sitcoms.
1. ‘Bewitched’ (ABC, 1964-1972)
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Samantha Stephens (Elizabeth Montgomery) is the ultimate housewife: smart, diligent, affable and, oh yeah, able to use her magic powers to get things done. Despite being a witch of nearly unlimited abilities, Samantha decides to marry a boring mortal ad exec named Darrin (played by Dick York and later by Dick Sargent) and live as a suburban homemaker. While Sam always has a certain twinkle that implies she could be off on grand magical adventures at a moment’s notice, she genuinely loves dull Darren, and builds a happy home with him (while avoiding the suspicions of nosy neighbors).
2. ‘Sabrina, the Teenage Witch’ (ABC, 1996-2000; The WB, 2000-2003)
Sabrina Spellman (Melissa Joan Hart) is just your average teen girl trying to cope with homework and boy troubles and figuring her life out, except she’s a witch being raised by her two witch aunts, and her best friend is a talking cat named Salem. Naturally, many of Sabrina’s attempts to use her powers to make her life easier go awry, and it’s not easy for her to hide her witchy nature from her friends and classmates. Later on, Sabrina goes to college and lives on her own, but she’s always tied to the Other Realm of witches and magic.
3. ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ (NBC, 1965-1970)
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It seems like a bit of a male chauvinist fantasy now, to have a beautiful, scantily clad woman there to grant your every wish. That’s exactly what the genie named Jeannie (Barbara Eden) is on I Dream of Jeannie, where she pops out of her bottle to do the bidding of astronaut Major Nelson (Larry Hagman). Of course, what man wouldn’t fall in love with a woman with magical powers who does everything he says? Although Jeannie is occasionally frustrating and sometimes a little scatter-brained, Major Nelson falls for her, and they eventually get married (just before the show is canceled).
4. ‘The Addams Family’ (ABC, 1964-1966)
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The creepy and kooky, altogether ooky Addams family characters are derived from the work of macabre New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, and they’re really quite friendly despite their morbid appearance. Gomez loves Morticia, and they both dote on their children Wednesday and Pugsley. Sure, butler Lurch looks a bit like Frankenstein’s monster, and there’s a disembodied hand called Thing roaming around the Addams estate. But the family is generally benign, with minor supernatural abilities that cause more amusement than mischief.
5. ‘The Munsters’ (CBS, 1964-1966)
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This more overtly supernatural counterpart to the Addams family stars in a show with a less subtle and refined sense of humor, but this clan of monsters (modeled after the classic Universal movie monsters) is just as friendly and good-natured. Father Herman is a Frankenstein’s monster, mother Lily and Grandpa are vampires, and son Eddie is a werewolf, but it’s completely normal human niece Marilyn that the rest of the family finds off-putting. Like the Addamses, the Munsters are more bumbling than menacing with their otherworldly powers.