From the original “The Addams Family” show in 1964, its first movie in 1991 and then “Addams Family Values” in 1993, we now have the perfect modernized spin-off. The new Netflix show “Wednesday,” released Nov. 23, broke records with 341.2 million hours viewed in one week.
Just two minutes into the series, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) is already in her element raising havoc when she releases two bags filled with piranhas into the pool at school on her brother’s bullies. This results in her being expelled. She is then forced to attend Nevermore Academy, a private school for outcasts.
Nevermore Academy consists of Fangs (vampires), Furrs (werewolves), Scales (sirens) and Stoners (gorgons). Ironically, Wednesday doesn’t seem to fit into any of these groups. So even in a school made for outcasts, she is still the biggest outcast of them all. In addition, she has gained psychic abilities and randomly sees the future and past, which she struggles to control. Wednesday attempts to use this new power to take on the ultimate role of figuring out who or what the monster is that has been killing people in the town of Jericho.
Not much has changed with the Addams Family. Although a different cast, they still carry the same personalities the main characters had in the original movies. The characters Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez Addams (Luis Guzman), even 30 years later, never fail to make everyone around them uncomfortable as they show immense forms of PDA around others, especially their children, constantly causing them to roll their eyes or become nauseous. And Pugsley (Issac Ordonez) remains the same helpless little brother who looks up to his sister.
The only Addams who didn’t seem to make the cut was Pubert Addams (the baby from “Addams Family Values” in 1993). Uncle Fester even makes an appearance in episode seven. Last but not least, there is Thing (the hand), who plays a big role as Wednesday’s sidekick throughout the series.
A very interesting aspect of the series is when Wednesday is given a roommate who is the complete opposite of her. Wednesday is always quiet, reserved, pessimistic and dark while her roommate, Enid (Emma Myers), is an optimistic, outgoing, colorful werewolf. There are scenes throughout the series of the two in their room, with the window being colorful for Enid and her side of the room while Wednesday’s side is black and gloomy. I appreciate how aesthetically pleasing it is when they stand in the light of their sides, which was shown multiple times.
Wednesday at first is annoyed by Enid, but throughout the series, they create a beautiful friendship. The friendship between them is the most heartwarming part of the show. Instead of just some gooey romance, we are given the chance to watch a friendship bloom, which is much more needed in evolving Wednesday as a character.
In Nevermore Academy, there is only one “normie,” the teacher Mrs. Thornhill (Christina Ricci), who funnily enough is played by the same actress who portrayed Wednesday in the original “Addams Family” movie. Her role as a nice and innocent teacher who wants what is best for her students is a cool aspect of the series that most viewers didn’t even notice since Ricci seems almost unidentifiable compared to how she looked as a child actress in 1991.
But the most important part of the development of this series was Ortega’s undying devotion to the role of Wednesday. Ortega did countless things to make sure her performance was the best it could be. She went through the entire series without blinking because director and executive producer Tim Burton felt it was dire to her character. The few times she did blink was for dramatic effect as that was the only emotion you’d see from a usually emotionless character.
Ortega also learned how to play the cello specifically for the role, which adds such emotion to the scenes when she plays. The actress also insisted that when she snaps in the series, it would commence “The Addams Family” theme song to play. Finally, Ortega choreographed her own dance, which includes some moves referring to “The Addams Family” show from 1964. These factors show that without Ortega as Wednesday, it wouldn’t have been a hit; no one could’ve played the role better.
In all, this show may be modernized compared to the old Addams Family, but not much has changed with the deranged and gloomy characters. Ortega makes a terrific lead as you watch her fight monsters, start friendships and serve sarcasm as usual. “Wednesday” gave us a fantastic end to 2022, and everyone is dying for a second season.