Watching “Wednesday” is far from woeful


Image via IMDb

The Addams Family has been beloved since their inception in 1938, going through several transformations over the years. From the comic strips to the big screen, the eccentric household has found a permanent spot in pop culture with their unconventional dynamics and gothic style. With Hollywood’s recent pattern of modernizing older fan favorite shows and movies, it seemed nearly inevitable that The Addams Family would eventually be receiving the remake treatment. However, unlike many of these attempts, the Netflix series seems to have won over audiences, as Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” is on track to be the highest streamed English language series on the platform. 

The series follows The Addams Family daughter Wednesday after she is expelled from her high school. She is sent to Nevermore, a school for “outcasts,” and her parents’ alma mater. There she discovers that something unusual is going on at the school, connected to the “normie” town of Jericho. It’s up to Wednesday to discover who the mysterious monster is that is terrorizing the woods while simultaneously having to navigate the social system of her new school.

The glue of the series is undoubtedly Jenna Ortega, who portrays the titular character as the classically morose and standoffish girl from past iterations, now a relentless teen detective. It’s surprising how such a deadpan character can be portrayed with such heart, but Ortega balances the mix of cold and caring well. Her dedication to the role is the stuff of legend, with the actress choreographing a dance for her character inspired by the moves of 80’s goth teens and allegedly reshooting every scene in which her character blinks.

Something that die hard fans of the comics, TV show, and movies may be disappointed to discover that this iteration of Addams’ are struggling with internal tension. Familial disagreements mar the previously devoted relationship between mother and daughter, a sharp contrast to previous characterizations. However, for new viewers who are not as attached to the characters, the updated relationship may not prove as devastating. It has become a standard trop of teen TV that the child will feel stifled and misunderstood, and Morticia and Wednesday will have to struggle through parenting and adolescence just like the rest of us, only with slightly more gore.

As for the supporting cast, a blend of new friends and familiar favorites welcomes viewers into the world of “Wednesday.” Family companion Thing serves as both an important emotional bond for Wednesday and a “helping hand,” scurrying off to complete tasks like lockpicking and thievery at her request. The driving B plot is the love triangle between Wednesday, fellow Nevermore student Xavier, and “normie” Tyler. This is pretty standard fare for a teen TV series, and there isn’t much to report. Far more interesting is watching Wednesday’s burgeoning friendship with her roommate Enid and schoolmate Eugene, a member of the school’s beekeeping club.  There’s something charming about watching the antisocial Wednesday develop bonds with people outside of her quirky relatives.

In terms of the mystery element of the plot, there isn’t much to complain about. The show keeps viewers guessing, and there is likely a rewatch needed in order to grasp the clues sprinkled throughout the episodes. Even so, audiences will have fun playing detective, as the thread of the story provides enough context for you to solve the signs alongside Wednesday. However, if you’re already in league with Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, the mystery may only be confusing because of the main character’s detective skills. Although she has many talents, patience is not one of them, and Wednesday accuses almost every character of murder before the show is over.

If you’re looking for a way to kill some time this break, try seeing what the hype is about. There are a few drawbacks in classic Netflix cringe; they butcher Gen-Z slang and are still unable to grasp how teens really use social media, but these moments of pain pass quickly. You’ll be rewarded with an entertaining plot and a masterclass performance by a stellar cast.