By: Amanda Guarragi
When it comes to cult classics The Addams Family is one of them. Americans got to know the family as a comic in The New Yorker in 1938. After comic artist Charles Addams died in 1988, The Addams Family became public domain and has been adapted into films, television shows, and even video games. In 1991, Barry Sonnenfeld revamped The Addams Family for a new audience, who brought some campy goodness to the characters. Even though the cast was iconic, there was just something about Wednesday Addams, played by Christina Ricci. She was the most interesting character and had so much to do. After Ricci dominated the role, it wasn’t touched again until now. Director Tim Burton and Jenna Ortega presented a new side of Wednesday Addams in the Netflix series Wednesday.
In this series, Wednesday is up to her destructive ways as she protects her brother Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez) from bullies at school. Now, the Addamses have been integrated into society for a while. They have been at a regular middle school, and Wednesday hasn’t been the most approachable. By defending her brother, she gets expelled and is sent to Nevermore Academy. The catalyst for Wednesday’s story is her connection with her mother Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She doesn’t t want to be like her at all, and now by going to the school she graduated from, she wants nothing to do with her legacy. This series explores Wednesday’s individuality and tough exterior. As each episode passes, she becomes softer because she begins caring for her friends around her. She does understand that it’s important for her to make friends, but she remains guarded.
As Wednesday navigates through this new school, she uncovers more about her family than she had hoped. While people are investigating her, including her therapist, she is tracking a different case entirely. The deeper she goes into uncovering the truth about her parents, the more people end up helping her. It’s wonderful to see Wednesday in a different light in this series. Ortega was made for this role, and she understood the emotional depth she needed to bring to the character. Wednesday was never heartless, and she would fight for her loved ones fearlessly. That is how she builds her relationships at Nevermore. Even if she’s cold and a bit of a sociopath, she is still humorous. Without Ortega boosting the script as she commands the screen, the other characters somewhat fall flat. It’s hard to set up a well-known character in a new environment and develop others around them.
Tim Burton’s Wednesday is a fun addition to the franchise, and Jenna Ortega is a bonafide star. The pairing is a match made in heaven, as Ortega explores Wednesday’s psyche, and Burton presents a new fantastical world for her to play in. The pacing of this series is probably its biggest issue, as some episodes drag a bit. The episodes that have Morticia and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) are placed at the right moments to push Wednesday forward into the investigation. Wednesday does feel less alone at Nevermore Academy because she can connect with others who are different. She taps into her supernatural powers, which helps her understand odd things that happen around the area. Two stories flow into each other, and it would have been better if there wasn’t so much excess. It’s a fun series that takes a bit to get going, but once it does, these characters help Wednesday become a different person by the end of it.