Our Take: 3/5 Stars
Netflix’s hit show “Wednesday” has captivated the attention of the nation, and less than a month after its initial release, broke multiple streaming records and achieved the title of the second most popular English-language series on Netflix.
The dark, comedic and kooky show is based on Charles Addams’s cartoon character Wednesday, the oldest child of the Addams Family.
The Addams Family is a beloved fictional family that is a satirical inversion of the American nuclear family; they are macabre enthusiasts, eccentric, wealthy and unbothered that people find them frightening.
The family originally appeared as a cartoon in The New Yorker, and eventually became adapted into multiple television series, films and a musical.
The 1991 film, “The Addams Family,” solidified the icon status of the family, which led to movie sequels and the recent spinoff, “Wednesday.” Christina Ricci defined the role of the oldest Addams child in the 90s and created a character synonymous with a monotone voice, dark humor and long dark pigtails.
“Wednesday” establishes a timeline with an older teenage Wednesday (Jenna Ortega, “The Fallout”) with the same quirks from her preteen days, but with the addition of bangs and even more angst. Ortega holds her own with her interpretation of the role, creating a character with depth while maintaining her coldness and demeanor.
The story starts with Wednesday enacting revenge on bullies who were picking on her younger brother Pugsley, but her version of revenge included setting piranhas loose in the pool during their practice. This act nearly killed the bullies, resulting in Wednesday’s expulsion, and she is sent to Nevermore Academy — the alma mater of her mother Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones).
This school is meant for outcasts, and it is there Wednesday meets her unlikely friend and roommate Enid. She is the exact opposite of Wednesday. Where Enid is all positivity and colors, Wednesday is darkness and morbidity.
Enid gives her an early 2000s-inspired style tour of Nevermore’s cliques — all the students are mythical creatures with varying levels of social status. As Wednesday adjusts to her new environment, she finds herself investigating some of the mysteries and lore surrounding the school and the nearby town of Jericho. These mysteries include murder, monsters, attempted homicide and much more.
While the older version of the Addams family media often included setting the family against normality, showing the difference between them and the rest of society, “Wednesday” allows the main character to primarily engage with fellow outcasts. Wednesday is still incredibly different from the other students and locals from Jericho, so that juxtaposition is not entirely lost, and is a refreshing take on the Addams storyline.
One of the reasons the show gained virality was because of the overall aesthetic, as it is directed by Tim Burton, who is well known for his “Burtonesque” style. This is defined by Gothic overtones and is also heavily inspired by German Expressionism.
An unexpected highlight from the show that also blew up across social media platforms was Wednesday’s dance in episode four. Ortega choreographed the dance herself, and she said it was inspired by videos of British rock bands, archival footage of goth kids dancing in clubs in the ‘80s and dance moves from the first Wednesday, Lisa Loring.
Although the scene took up less than three minutes of screen time, the spellbinding choreography moved to TikTok and soon became a viral trend. Hundreds of creators were copying the dance to a sped-up version of Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary.”
There are plenty of other great scenes in the series, and with its wit, acting and engaging story-line, it is understandable why season two is already highly anticipated.
Fans of the previous Addams Family films and TV shows can rest assured that “Wednesday” showcases a unique take on the family and the Addams oldest child, but does not stray far enough to lose the qualities that made these characters so iconic.
Overall, it is a spooky and witty gothic murder mystery with a splash of irreverent dark humor and serves as a wonderful addition to the Addams Family storyline.