Paige Stegina | A&E Editor
Creepy. Kooky. Mysterious. Spooky. All together ooky. The Addams family has become a staple in many households ever since the release of the 1964 television series. From that point, it was made into cartoons, Halloween specials, animated movies, and on the big screen starring Anjelica Huston, Raul Julia and Christina Ricci. Most recently, it has been adapted by Tim Burton for a Netflix series. The eight episode series follows Wednesday Addams, played by Jenna Ortega, as she navigates the magical boarding school Nevermore Academy after she gets expelled from her previous school. This show brings back iconic characters we love, such as Thing, Uncle Fester, Pugsley, and of course, Morticia and Gomez. The show also introduces many new characters, such as Wednesday’s bubbly roommate Enid, Tyler the coffee shop employee who is also the son of the sheriff, queen of the school Bianca who is also a Siren, and the Principal of Nevermore, Larissa Weems. Even Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in 1991 and 1993 films returned to play Marilyn Thornhill, the “normie” dorm mother. While at Nevermore, Wednesday is confronted with mystery, monsters, secret societies, love triangles, long kept family secrets, her own emerging psychic abilities connected to her ancient ancestors, and a long standing prophecy that connects it all.
When the trailer for Wednesday was first released, audiences were skeptical. From many recent childhoods, Wednesday would always be Christina Ricci. For others, the original Lisa Loring would always hold the crown. With the role being as iconic as it is, finding a strong actress to play her is difficult, especially with the entire show being centered around her. Not only this, with the constant flow of remakes and spin offs in the modern age, many can often fall flat to what the original characters and story once was. However, this show truly brought everything that is unique about Wednesday as a character, giving her the spotlight that she deserves, while still adapting it for the modern age.
Jenna Ortega was able to capture the very essence of Wednesday; the dark humored, quick witted, slightly morbid, highly stubborn soul willing to execute any plan to prove to everyone that she is right. The supporting cast, from well known to recently emerging, are able to support Jenna’s take on the character well. Emma Myers as Wednesday’s roommate is able to bring a cheerful presence to Wednesday’s doom and gloom. One of my favorite characters who did not have much of a role was the bee-loving Eugene, determined to help Wednesday. Later into the series, Uncle Fester’s (played by Fred Armisen) quirkiness fits Wednesday's perfectly. The set, the makeup, the costumes all visually bring the viewer into the world. The filming style is fantastic, with stunning shots that only further illustrate Wednesday's character and her relationship with those around her. In one particular shot,
the window in Wednesday and Enid’s dorm, shown multiple times in the series, is symbolic and powerful as their relationship develops. All of these elements bring an atmosphere of tension throughout the series, and the need to watch just one more.
Even with all the great elements of the show, there were points that were slightly disappointing. One of the weaknesses was the love triangle. Many audience members felt that it was forced, giving the show a tension that it did not necessarily need at this stage of the series. Even Jenna Ortega was concerned about this, voicing her doubts to the writers about Wednesday ever being in a love triangle. Although the final reveal was interesting on many levels, it left viewers wanting more especially with how much build up led to the last episode. Certain characters, such as the ghost of Wednesday’s ancestor Goody Addams, could have had great purpose in the show, but just fell flat, the potential storylines falling away.
Despite these flaws, the show has performed well with both audiences and critics. In the first three weeks of release, it became the second-most-watched Netflix series. In terms of awards, Wednesday has received two Golden Globe nominations, one for Best Television Series-Musical or Comedy as well as Best Actress-Television Series Musical or Comedy for Jenna Ortega’s performance. With all of this, it is no surprise that the show was renewed for a second season in January 2023. In fact, the showrunners revealed that they have potential storylines for Wednesday for four seasons.
More than anything, viewers can enjoy the message of Wednesday, an individual who sticks true to who she is regardless of what the world thinks of her. Even though this often leads her into trouble, there are some major takeaways from the show. That embracing our inner Wednesday can lead to miraculous discoveries while discovering our true purpose. This, and the fact that love and support can come from the most unlikely places. When we find it, Wednesday shows us we should be willing to take it. Even with criticisms of the show, it delivers strong characters across the board. With the promise of a new season, Wednesday is sure to bring viewers on another kooky adventure.
Watch the eight episode Wednesday series on Netflix.