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Editorial: A Review of the Wednesday Netflix Series

By Yuvthi Misser

Wednesday’s official poster. From: @wednesdaynetflix on Instagram.

Content Warning: This review contains spoilers!

The Addams Family is a beloved household name to any 90’s kid or early 2000’s kid. As soon as the opening bars of the theme song featuring the harpsichord plays, I can guarantee that most of you will be able to snap your fingers to the beat. Recently, Netflix released a new iteration of the family that took the world by storm. “Wednesday” had broken the record for the most-watched English language series after a week of being released, surpassing the view record for season 4 of Stranger Things. With a more extensive view count that superseded Netflix’s biggest series, I think it is undoubtedly due for many more seasons. The Wednesday dance trend on TikTok can be attributed to the oddball murder mystery series’ popularity.

The series follows its titular character Wednesday Addams and her move to Nevermore Academy, a school for “outcasts” such as herself. At Nevermore, she is quickly thrust into the middle of a murder investigation and an old prophecy, which fills her with morbid curiosity as she attempts to save her school, family, and friends from threats like a monstrous Hyde, a resurrected pilgrim, and a secret society. But apart from an exciting logline, Wednesday is a rather special show and has earned its popular status due to its casting and storyline.

Jenna Ortega, who appeared in films such as Scream 5 (2022) and X, embodies Wednesday Addams's gothic and apathetic nature. Interestingly, Christina Ricci originally played Wednesday in the 1991 adaptation of the Addams Family. She now plays Marilyn Thornhill, the only human teacher at Nevermore Academy. Tim Burton is also credited as a producer and director of the series' first four episodes.

Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday is superbly done. With her monotonous and unblinking stare, she nails the physical aspect of the apathetic character. However, I think that the true artistry of Ortega’s performance lies within the very subtle character development portrayed within the season. Wednesday initially does not care for personal relationships and has a strained relationship with her family, particularly her mother, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). As the story progresses, Wednesday chooses to protect her parents from facing time in prison due to a decades-old murder case (yes, that is an actual plot point) and goes from hating her relationships with her family and friends to only being slightly uncomfortable with affection. Wednesday Addams, as a character, is a girl known for being antisocial and misanthropic. While this lends to her talents as she solves the mysteries of Nevermore, it comes into conflict when she makes meaningful connections with others and fails to honour their feelings. By the end of the season, while Wednesday still maintains her general disdain for humanity, she recognises the importance of being truthful and considering people’s feelings. This minor character development allows Wednesday to rectify some of her wrongs during the season while remaining true to what audiences love about her character. While she claims to have cried only once in her life, we see a rather heartbreaking scene where Thing, a disembodied hand that acts as her sidekick, gets injured. She cries as her Uncle Fester tries to revive her beloved friend, showcasing that the seemingly emotionless character actually appreciates her relationships with the people around her.

However, Wednesday’s character development is also part of the adequate scriptwriting that went into the show. The writing does have its issues which I will briefly touch on soon, but where it does excel is Wednesday’s characterization, the intertwinement between the past and present, and the mystery aspect. The overall plot consists of two seemingly isolated events connected, with Wednesday being the link. The resurrection of Joseph Crackstone is revealed to be brought on by unexplained murders committed by a Hyde. The only person who can stop the decimation of the outcasts and Nevermore is Wednesday, thanks to her psychic visions and extreme intelligence. There is a series of misdirects as Wednesday attempts to find out who is behind the gruesome murders that I definitely fell for, which made the show more entertaining and fascinating to watch.

Additionally, the show has real-life parallels, particularly in how ordinary humans, known as “normies,” treat the outcasts of Nevermore, which mirrors how oppressed groups are treated in modern society. Furthermore, the show even critiques the ideas of celebrating colonial ideologies and pilgrimage, with Jericho’s celebration of the first pilgrims arriving in Nevermore. By the end of the series, it is revealed that Joseph Crackstone, the first pilgrim, is responsible for the genocide of Jericho’s indigenous outcasts, and yet he is still praised as the town’s founding father. This is a direct jab at the celebration of colonialism that modern society still carries out, despite its bloody past.

However, the writing of the show could be better. The supposed climax to the show, the fight between the resurrected Joseph Crackstone and Wednesday, turned out to be very unevenly paced and quick. The series' build-up towards the culminating scene did not correlate with the less than a five-minute fight scene. It would have been beneficial to extend the scene into a more gruelling fight instead of glossing over the death of the show’s main antagonist. Another critique I will point out is the old love triangle trope that seems never to bid farewell in popular shows like Wednesday. While it was interesting to see Wednesday fall for a normie boy who works in a coffee shop that turns out to be the Hyde, it is a trope that I am personally tired of seeing in Netflix’s hit shows. However, I remain hopeful that the writers of Wednesday will take into account the audience’s reactions to the trope and do away with it in later seasons.

At the time of publishing, Wednesday is currently number 4 in South Africa’s most-watched series on Netflix. While I am confident that Wednesday is not perfect, its main strength is the characterization of its titular character and the mystery aspect that allowed me to binge-watch it until 4 am. Jenna Ortega does a flawless portrayal of the beloved Addams family member. I am excited to see what else the show may bring next season since I do not doubt that Netflix will renew it due to its outstanding performance.

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