Wednesday Addams revamped: “Wednesday” series review


Credit: Katya Luzarraga

WSPN’s Hallie Luo and Katya Luzarraga review Tim Burton’s new Netflix series, “Wednesday.”

Katya Luzarraga and Hallie Luo

Wednesday Addams, the apathetic daughter of Morticia and Gomez Addams, now has her turn in the spotlight with the show “Wednesday” created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar and directed by Tim Burton. Netflix released this “Addams Family” spin-off on Nov. 23, 2022, and the eight episode comedy horror series highlights the challenges of being a teenager while tying in a gruesome mystery. Wednesday, played by Jenna Ortega, races to uncover the cause of a series of mysterious murders around her new school, all while navigating the ups and downs of being a teenager.

This Netflix original show is everything and more. It holds together the traditional perception of Wednesday Addams and combines it with the characteristics of today’s average teenager, making a captivating, dark and witty series. Burton does not disappoint, and he leaves viewers hungry for more from the amazing yet sinister protagonist after every episode.

The series opens with Wednesday releasing piranhas into a pool during a swim meet at her high school, attacking a student who bullied her little brother, Pugsley. Because of her actions, she is expelled from her school. The chaos and absurdity depicted in the first three minutes of “Wednesday” serve as a compelling reason to continue the show. Throughout the whole series, Wednesday carries her impulsive, without-a-care, sadistic mindset.

When I think of Wednesday Addams, I immediately envision Christina Ricci as the superbly unengaged goth girl in the original “Addams Family,” film aired in 1991, who went on to star in the sequel, “Addams Family Values,” three years later. Ricci defined the role of Wednesday Addams, and I didn’t think anyone could top her portrayal of the young Addams girl. However, 20-year-old Ortega effortlessly balances maintaining the legacy of Ricci’s Wednesday Addams while still holding her own artistic vision of Wednesday. It’s not easy to develop a character that audiences have only seen portrayed as a child and transition her into a young adult in the complicated, confusing realm of high school. The casting choice of Ortega couldn’t have been more perfect.

After the piranha incident, her parents ship Wednesday off to Nevermore Academy, a boarding school for children with unique gifts. The academy is, not-so-coincidentally, the alma mater of Wednesday’s mother, Morticia, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. As Wednesday arrives at her new school, the show introduces the star-studded faculty featuring none other than Ricci herself as Wednesday’s dorm mother, Miss Thornhill, and Gwendoline Christie as Nevermore’s no-nonsense headmistress, Larissa Weems. Nevermore quickly turns into Wednesday’s worst nightmare. Not only does Addams already hate the idea of school, but she has to withstand her animated and ego-stricken peers while living in the shadow of her mother.

The challenges continue for Wednesday when she meets her peppy werewolf roommate, Enid Sinclair, played by Emma Meyers. Enid eagerly proclaims that a tour of Nevermore Academy is necessary, dragging the less-than-enthusiastic Wednesday through the school.

Enid gives Wednesday a “Mean Girls-style” tour of Nevermore’s traditions and cliques. Enid explains the Fangs (vampires), Furs (werewolves), Stoners (gorgons) and Scales (sirens). The mean girl of Nevermore, Bianca Barclay, who Joy Sunday plays with astounding conviction, leads the Scales. Along with giving Wednesday the tour of Nevermore, Enid also introduces Wednesday to some of the characters who later play a role in not only the numerous mysteries surrounding Wednesday but also in Wednesday’s romantic relationships.

By episode two, we see gruesome deaths in Nevermore’s neighboring town of Jericho, which seem to be never ending. These deaths lead to murder allegations that loom over Wednesday’s family like dark clouds, providing audiences with endless questions. Witnessing Wednesday decipher clue after clue of these dark mysteries offers the viewer a twisted sense of satisfaction, as if they are solving the mysteries with her. The obstacles continue as Wednesday attempts to figure out what her many fragmented visions tell her about the murderers of Jericho.

In terms of the statistical success that “Wednesday” has received, nearly 85% of viewers are in the Gen Z or millennial age demographic. Ortega draws in the Gen Z audience, while the sense of nostalgia from the “Addams Family” movies lures millennials into watching the series. The series is right on the mark for Netflix’s current audience, securing the service’s record high viewership of over 752.5 million hours watched within the first two weeks.

Everything tied together in episode five of the series at Nevermore’s Rave’N Dance. Wednesday performed a breathtaking, intricate choreographed dance that left my jaw on the floor. Ortega herself choreographed the routine and performed it for the show while sick with COVID-19.

“I felt like I’d been hit by a car and that a little goblin had been let loose in my throat,” Ortega said in an interview with NME.

If you ever doubted Ortega’s dedication to her role, this dance routine should disprove all those reservations. Ortega throws her arms up and around her body while creating facial expressions that no one would dare make at a school dance. In that scene, Wednesday Addams was unapologetically herself, and I am here for it. Apparently, so was the entirety of TikTok.

Wednesday’s Rave’N choreography had TikTok users reeling over the individuality of the dance and the confidence with which Ortega performed it. On TikTok, the hashtag, “WednesdayNetflix” has gotten close to 300 billion views. Soon, fans began cosplaying it to Lady Gaga’s song, “Bloody Mary.” Did Gen Z inadvertently bring back the gothic subculture and is it here to stay after “Wednesday?”

Looking back, there were parts of the show that frustrated me plot-wise like Wednesday’s change in character that was absent in the original movie. The original Wednesday was blunt, creepy, and the opposite of amicable. It feels strange to see her making friends, finding passions and even getting romantically involved. Regardless, the show still displays a coming-of-age that is relatable while also entertaining.

“Wednesday” is a must-watch series that integrates the challenges and expectations of today’s society with Burton’s unexpected, supernatural world, creating something that captivates audiences of all ages. I wouldn’t be surprised if viewers binged the eight hour series in one sitting because “Wednesday” is that good.

Final rating: 9/10