Wednesday Review

Ever since its debut in the 1930s, The Addams Family has made a mark on pop culture over many decades. The creepy family has made their presence known in both television and film as the legacy of the franchise continues to go strong. Now it is about to make its return to the small screen with Netflix’s original teen comedy horror series Wednesday, focusing mostly on the deadpan daughter herself as she goes on a journey that is filled with mystery and a bit of self-discovery. Led by Jenny Ortega, the series also has some of that dark humor that fans are all familiar with as Tim Burton puts his personal touch on these beloved characters.

The show follows the story of Wednesday Addams (Ortega) as she gets herself expelled from her public school, forcing her parents Gomez (Luis Guzman) and Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) to send her to their alma mater, Nevermore Academy. With Wednesday at this new school, she must fit in with her peers but also faces the expectations to follow in her parent’s footsteps. Wednesday sees that her mother was quite the popular student in a school filled with outcasts like themselves. She realizes that she is under her mother’s shadow as she learns the legacy that her parents have left behind at this prestigious school. However, when a mystery unfolds involving murder, Wednesday has become deeply intrigued and determined to solve it, much to the detriment of her family as well as her school peers.

Wednesday’s transition into Nevermore Academy isn’t going to be a seamless one. She gets placed into her mother’s old dorm room sharing it with fellow student Enid (Emma Myers), a potential werewolf who is the complete opposite of Wednesday in terms of personality. Even though these two are nothing alike, they soon see how strong their bond is. She also has to contend with the headmistress Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie), an old friend of Morticia’s who is watching her every move to make sure she doesn’t do anything to damage the school or its reputation. She does make some acquaintances along the way, including town local Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan), a barista who also happens to be the son of the town’s sheriff (Jamie McShane). Much of the story focuses on two mysteries, one that connects to Wednesday’s family at the school and another that deals with some grisly murders happening in the town.

Wednesday does stand itself from other adaptations of The Addams Family by being more of a teen drama. It shows us how Wednesday would deal with being a teenager. In some ways, it is a coming-of-age story as it puts a modern spin on a classic character. It also is more serialized as the season-long arc is embroiled in the mystery that Wednesday has put herself in. The series also tends to lean more into the horror aspects, but it doesn’t lose its dark comedic charm that other adaptations have also done. Much like the 90s movies, Wednesday carries those similar tones that audiences may be familiar with if they have seen the movies or anything similar to that nature. 

What works in the series is the incredible cast led by Ortega. She embraces the character down to her clothes and mannerisms. It is a perfect casting to have the young actress play such a disturbingly fun character who is every bit like the source material. Ortega manages to tap into that deadpan humor and pathological behavior that she exhibits. It is fun to see how Wednesday deals with that awkward phase of being a teenager in a way that suits the character. Despite being in a school of outcasts, it’s interesting to see Wednesday being an outcast among her peers.

Even the rest of the family is cast well with the inclusion of Guzman and Zeta-Jones as her lovebird parents Gomez and Morticia. We even get to see her brother Pugsley Addams, played by Isaac Ordonez. Each of them brings that kooky charm that we all know and love from this freakingly lovable family. We also get some screen time with Uncle Fester, who is amazingly brought to life by comedian Fred Armisen. Even Thing gets to share some great screen time with Wednesday in their crazy shenanigans. 

We also get some new characters in the story, which includes Christie as the principal and Riki Lindhome as the therapist that Wednesday is assigned. Besides Enid, we also meet more of Wednesday’s classmates like Bianca (Joy Sunday), Ajax (Georgie Farmer), and Xavier (Percy Hynes White). Perhaps one of the most surprising castings is Christina Ricci, who formerly played Wednesday Addams in the live-action films. In this series, she plays one of Nevermore’s teachers, Ms. Thornhill. She is a great addition to the cast, giving a nice homage to The Addams Family with her presence.

Much like other adaptations of The Addams FamilyWednesday also deals with the acceptance of those who are different from society. The family had to deal with that as they attempt to fit in with the normal people no matter how strange they can be. The series also gets to tackle that issue with the outcasts of Nevermore sharing the same town with the normies in Jericho. It is within these eight episodes that we get to explore more about this town and the school as well as their historic connection to each other. What the show manages to do well is contend with the conflict between the two communities and how not everything is as it seems on either side.

Sometimes the visual effects can take audiences out of the experience, but it is the way the show looks that makes us feel engulfed in this world of characters. Tim Burton directs a couple of episodes, putting in his touch to the franchise that is quite the perfect fit if he were to direct a movie based on this property. It is a challenge making these characters recognizable while also creating something different with them, but in the end, we still care enough about this family.

Wednesday takes a darker turn than what we are accustomed to when it comes to The Addams Family, but it still doesn’t forget what makes these characters special. It does a fine job separating itself from other adaptations by focusing more on the story and taking on some mature themes. The series provides enough backstory to even appease new fans who are unfamiliar with the franchise. Wednesday proves to be a great addition to The Addams Family, showing that the franchise still has a pulse.

Wednesday is now streaming on Netflix.

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