Arts and Entertainment

Wednesday: Halloween Came Late This Year

A review of Netflix’s supernatural coming of age series Wednesday, an adaption of the popular Addams family franchise

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A girl dressed in a gothic black dress is on a dance floor, standing out among other attendees in white. She begins to dance while maintaining a stiff posture and a blank face. She whips her head back and bends her elbows, flailing her body in random directions, her eyes unblinking. Wednesday, Netflix’s newest comedy horror, was released on November 23, 2022. Based on the classic Addams family comics, this adaptation follows the family’s sadistic daughter Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) as she attends Nevermore, a school for outcasts, after her latest expulsion. Though initially dubious about her new surroundings, Nevermore’s latest string of murders at the hands of a rumored monster captures Wednesday’s attention, convincing her to linger long enough to crack the case. Along the way, Wednesday befriends eccentric characters such as bubbly werewolf Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), artistic archer Xavier (Percy Hynes White), and barista Tyler (Hunter Doohan) who also serves as Wednesday’s love interest. The show brings a new iteration of the Addams family to life while doing a terrific job of setting Wednesday apart from her iconic relatives.

The show notably does a great job at developing its characters thanks to stellar acting and writing. Ortega’s chilling yet humorous performance as Wednesday Addams is especially noteworthy as she captures Wednesday’s persona with poise and individuality, not straying too far from past iterations of the iconic character while still adding flare and depth to her version of Wednesday. As opposed to previous portrayals, Ortega’s Wednesday is a high school student forced to deal with the highs and lows of adolescence. The audience watches as Wednesday explores crushes and friendships while maintaining a strained relationship with her mother.

As a result of the pressure she feels to live up to her mother’s reputation at Nevermore, Wednesday wants nothing to do with her mother Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). On the other hand, Morticia struggles to deal with Wednesday’s defensive quips and their growing gap, especially as Wednesday is sent away to boarding school. Throughout the series, we watch their relationship thrive and falter, bringing a sense of relatability to the Addams family.

The rest of the cast brings their characters to life while subverting typical young adult stereotypes. Though Bianca (Joy Sunday) is originally portrayed as a typical mean girl, her insecurities stem from the fear that her siren powers, not her true self, draw people to her. Bianca’s development throughout the show is clear as she actively uses her siren powers to help Wednesday, further adding to her complexity.

Director Tim Burton’s influence is distinct throughout this adaptation, with the show featuring a similar gloomy aesthetic to the Corpse Bride (2005), another one of Burton’s projects. Their color schemes are nearly identical, with a majority of outfits being in shades of dark blue and black. The Hyde, Nevermore’s monster, is similarly animated to characters in Nightmare before Christmas and the aforementioned Corpse Bride. However, the Hyde’s animation looks silly against the show’s primarily live action medium.

Additionally, some of the dialogue in the show feels artificial and awkward, as it doesn’t accurately reflect the way that modern teenagers talk. For example, at one point, some bullies say “What are you? Alto, soprano, or just loco?” to Wednesday, sounding childish and inane.

The costumes in Wednesday take on a modern edge while retaining the aesthetic of the characters’ clothes in the original series. For example, Wednesday’s “angular character,” as described by designer Colleen Atwood, led her to incorporate pointier collars into Wednesday’s outfits. The other students at Nevermore also put their own personal flare on their pinstriped school uniforms, such as Xavier wearing a purple hoodie underneath his blazer.

The overarching theme of “coming of age” is prevalent throughout the series as Wednesday navigates high school life with all its quirkiness and adversities. Burton includes evergreen themes to create a series that appeals to viewers of all ages. He adds struggles that both teens and adults go through, such as Wednesday’s friend and roommate, Enid Sinclair talking about her PTSD.

Overall, this new series deserves a watch as it is a fun iteration of a classically loved series. With an exciting plot filled with twists and turns designed to keep viewers at the edge of their seats in combination with impressive acting, Wednesday is definitely one of Netflix’s best shows of the year.