Jenna Ortega slays as Wednesday


Image courtesy of TV Insider

It may be creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky, and altogether ooky, but do not underestimate “Wednesday”: This newly released Netflix show has dethroned “Stranger Things” in popularity. The spinoff of the (in)famous Addams family garnered over 340 million views in its release week, becoming the most-watched Netflix show in a single week. The release of the adaptation has been followed with much anticipation and the show has lived up to the hype. With a phenomenal performance by star Jenna Ortega, the show makes up for its few flaws with its engaging plot and intriguing characters.

“The Addams Family” has been in the public eye for decades, originating as comic strip characters created by Charles Addams, which soon evolved to having their own TV shows and two big hit movies. The first TV show that streamed in 1964 on ABC’s original TV series, successfully directed the spotlight on the Addams Family and their daily life. The popularity led to Charles Addams creating more well-rounded and distinct personalities for each character. Then came the famous movie of the Addams family made in 1991 with Anjelica Huston (Morticia), Raúl Juliá (Gomez), and Christina Ricci (Wednesday) as the main leads. By now, the Addams family became a sensation everywhere, even entering Broadway. Animation also took a place riding on the Addams family reputation, with animated films coming out between the periods of 2019 to 2021. Portrayed as the antithesis of the nuclear American family, this family has won over the hearts of millions of fans with their genuine love for each other coupled with their humorously dark and violence-prone gothic lifestyle. Gomez and Morticia Addams and their children Wednesday and Pugsley make up the eponymous Addams Family, serving each other breakfast laced with arsenic lovingly.

In 2019, a spin-off of the Addams family was announced. The adaptation would be somewhat different because the show would center around Wednesday Addams for the first time, not her entire family. The show’s central focus point was not allowing Wednesday’s storyline to be overshadowed by the legacy of the family itself, which the producers and the writers showed throughout the storyline.

The show starts off with a bang— or, more accurately, a splash— as Wednesday is expelled from her high school because she let loose piranhas upon the water polo team that bullied her brother. Much to Wednesday’s displeasure, her parents decide to send Wednesday to Nevermore, the boarding school for outcasts where her parents met. The parents created a long-lasting legacy which Wednesday feels the pressure to live up to. At Nevermore, a series of murders have raised tensions between outcasts and the “normies” of the neighboring town Jericho. Wednesday faces teenage drama and close brushes with death alike as she attempts to find the murderer and entangles herself in a centuries-old plot.

Although the plot is intriguing and relatively unpredictable, the love triangle incorporated in the show seems to be absolutely unnecessary and forced. Wednesday’s character appears to not be interested in romance, which she has warned multiple times in the show. Her two love interests refuse to recognize her indifference to both of them, making sweet moments ultimately awkward and unnatural. Romance was something that the audience would love to see in Young Adult shows, but Wednesday didn’t need the romance factor in her show at all. Her character development and Wednesday’s ability to show her emotions are shown through her interactions with Enid and Thing. There was no reason why the out-of-the-place romance subplot was added, especially her interactions with Xavier. Although the romance does not hit its intended target, the development of Wednesday’s friendships and her character development is well done as she learns to open up without losing the strong aspect of her personality.

The ending of Wednesday is also less effective than intended. As loose ends are tied up and the bigger picture comes into play, the season finale becomes almost off-puttingly chaotic, confusing characters and viewers alike as plot twists are revealed. Even though the story does connect at the end, the death of some characters felt superfluous. Principle Larissa Weems died at the end of the plot twist, but her character could have been explored more. She could have potentially become a second mother figure to Wednesday and her guardian at the school. There are also more characters that could have potentially developed a relationship with Wednesday, and the case regarding Bianca would be a perfect example. From the start of the show, Wednesday and Bianca had rough first impressions and saw each other as rivals in both academic and romantic settings. The two soon made up and had a small but intimate talk at the end of the dance, but Burton had decided to cut off the connection between the two and made nothing out of it, a lost opportunity indeed.

“Jenna Ortega only blinks nine times in the series because that’s what Wednesday’s personality is; she put in so much work into her performance and it shows, her acting is fantastic,” junior Taylor Crayne said.

Dark, deadpan, and dour, Wednesday Addams is undoubtedly a unique main character. The problem lies within making Wednesday relatable to teenagers while still staying true to the core of her character, which Jenna Ortega excels at with a simultaneously expressionless and emotive performance, bringing a new depth to Wednesday’s character. Probably one of the best performances that Ortega showed, her effort in even learning not to blink and mimicking Wednesday’s behavior was notable. Wednesday’s few flaws are offset by its multitude of good qualities, including fantastic acting and a strong storyline. The show is strongly recommended to viewers because Ortega stays true to the essence of the character Wednesday Addams while still developing her in ways not seen in other Addams adaptations. A 10/10 for its spookiness, uniqueness, and Wednesdayness.