‘Wednesday’ Season 1: The Goth Kid Revolution is Here (REVIEW)

I LOVE The Addams Family. I believe wholeheartedly that Morticia and Gomez’s relationship is part of the reason why my standards for love are so high. I’ve compared myself to Wednesday for years and, even if I’m totally nothing like her, I’ve tried really hard to live by her principles of honesty, curiosity, and spookiness. (Another thing you should know is that I am Jenna Ortega’s [Wednesday] biggest fan. I even fancast her as Wednesday Addams mere days before the official announcement came out last year.)

In the past few years, Ortega has quickly become one of the IT girls of horror. From her phenomenal roles in The Babysitter: Killer Queen and the second season of You to starring in Scream 5 (along with next year’s Scream 6) to her bone-chilling performance in A24’s X, she’s solidified her place in pop culture as a horror icon. Which, in my humble opinion, makes her the perfect choice to play iconic horror character Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday Season 1.

Spoilers ahead for Wednesday.

Wednesday Season 1 1
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams and Victor Dorobantu as Thing in Netflix’s Wednesday (Courtesy: Netflix)

Wednesday, as a character, has a very rich history in pop culture. While there have been many portrayals of her, most famously by Christina Ricci in the 90s, one element that has remained consistent is just how much Wednesday represents weird kids. She’s the underdog who doesn’t think she’s an underdog, who uses her assertiveness and drive as a weapon, who’s unafraid to speak her mind and confident to a fault. She’s also hella autistic-coded, something that means a lot to many fans even if it’s not canon.

Netflix’s version is also the first iteration of Wednesday to be Latine. The Addams family has Hispanic (and, later, Latine) roots, as the character of Gomez – played by Luis Guzmán in this iteration – evolved. I enjoyed finally getting to explore a Latine Wednesday, even if there could’ve been way more connection between the character and her Latine roots. We do get small references to “year long Día de los Muertos” to some of the songs Wednesday listens to (“Tierra Rica” by Carmita Jiménez and “La Llorona” by Chavela Vargas), but Wednesday’s connection to her culture could’ve been much richer and more prevalent in her character development as well as in Wednesday as a whole. 

Wednesday Season 1 2
Moosa Mostafa as Eugene, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Naomi J. Ogawa as Yoko, Joy Sunday as Bianca in Netflix’s Wednesday (Courtesy: Netflix)

While we’re on the subject, I actually found the cast to be nicely diverse. Between Joy Sunday as Bianca, Naomi J. Ogawa as Yoko, and Moosa Mostafa as Eugene, Jenna Ortega is surrounded by incredibly talented people of color who make this world feel more rounded and realistic. On that note, I’m not a huge fan of the immediate ensemble cast being all white people. Both of Wednesday’s “love interests” (more on the quotations later) are white men, and Wednesday’s bestie Enid (Emma Myers), Principal Weems (Gwendoline Christie), and adversary Ms. Thornhill (Christina Ricci herself) are all white women. 

This was going to be the part in the article where I criticized Tim Burton for his problematic “people of color don’t fit my aesthetic” statement from a few years ago. After Jenna Ortega was cast, though, I felt like maybe – just maybe! – we were finally getting past his dumb rhetoric…and then they made Jenna Ortega corpse-pale for the show. While I am aware that this is true to character (which, whatever), the fact that they hired a Latine woman for Wednesday Season 1 only to make her pale enough to fit right in with Burton’s “aesthetic” then coupled with the fact that Wednesday‘s characters of color feel like they’re not at the forefront with the white “inner circle” (or are made to be antagonists in Wednesday’s story), brought me right back to the critique of Burton’s language and all I can say is do fucking better. 

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk YA!

There are three key parts to a good murder/mystery YA story: 

  1. The Murder/Mystery
  2. The Romance
  3. The Drama

I’m happy to report that while Wednesday isn’t perfect, it does a good job balancing the three. 

The Murder/Mystery

Wednesday Season 1 3
Jamie McShane as Sheriff Donovan Galpin and Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

First and foremost, Wednesday is a murder/mystery show, and I don’t think it would’ve worked any other way. If you know anything about Wednesday as a character, you know she loves a good murder, a good mystery, and anything else macabre; while the character has always been driven, it’s through the murder/mystery element of this show that we get to watch Wednesday be obsessive. I love the fact that she only stays at Nevermore because, as much as she denies it, Wednesday loves the attention and couldn’t pass up the chance to be at the center of her own murder/mystery adventure. I also really enjoyed how the show plays with Wednesday’s uncontrollable psychic visions. While much of her active pursuit of the truth is her pulling loose threads as far as they will go, Wednesday’s spontaneous visions are how she discovers which threads to pull. While some might not enjoy how “simple” or “convenient” this power is, I found them a nice touch for moving the story along as well as for reminding the audience that we shouldn’t accept them as fact. Visions can play tricks and show incomplete pictures, leading Wednesday to make assumptions, mistakes, and even accusations that aren’t founded in truth or fact. 

Wednesday Season 1 keeps its mystery interesting and engaging. It’s designed very much with young teens in mind, so it’s not incredibly complex or masterful, but it did keep me guessing for a little while. I knew even before the show started that Christina Ricci had to be the villain; there was no way she would’ve signed on for a plain arc as a Nevermore teacher and nothing more. More interesting was the show laying down the breadcrumbs to lead us away from Mrs. Thornhill and then back toward her at the end. 

Wednesday Season 1 4
Christina Ricci as Ms. Thornhill in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

From the second she attempted to give Wednesday a copy of Frankenstein in Episode 6, “Quid Pro Woe,” it was clear that Wednesday‘s Season 1 endgame had to do with the novel. I never once thought the monster was Xavier (Percy Hynes White): this was a fun red herring, introduced so early in the game that I knew they were simply trying to throw us off. It was also clear very early on that there was something off with Tyler (Hunter Doohan). It wasn’t just because he came on way too strong way too fast (and believe me, I completely understand Wednesday’s appeal – I, too, would come on too strong); just like with Ms. Thornhill, the show spent a lot of time trying to convince us that Tyler was another “normies” (Wednesday‘s word for normal / human). 

Wednesday Season 1 5
Daniel Himschoot as Hyde Monster in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

As much as I liked Hunter Doohan’s portrayal of Tyler, I often found myself taken out by the monster’s goofy appearance. The Hyde looks very much like Smeagol / Gollum from Lord of the Rings: threatening and scary, yes, but also terrified and almost childlike. Whether or not this was intentional, the monster’s design encapsulates its true nature: a terrified child being abused, his trauma exploited to force him into awful, violent things that he doesn’t want to do but can’t stop. It was infuriating that Wednesday didn’t explore Tyler’s victimhood more, and I hope that Wednesday Season 2 takes the time to explore just how terrible the abuse he experienced at Ms. Thornhill’s hands was. 

Wednesday Season 1 6
William Houston as Joseph Crackstone and Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

The mystery of Wednesday Season 1 is an indulgent fight against witch hunts and just how far (white) people will go to destroy any people (of color, queer, disabled) who don’t fit into their hateful ideology. On that note, it was smart of the show to introduce Wednesday’s hatred of colonizers as motivation for her investigation. She literally dies and comes back to life out of a desire to protect her people – just like her ancestor, Goody – as well as to get some much needed revenge on all the bitter antagonists around her harboring blind vendettas against outcasts simply for existing.   

Wednesday Season 1 7
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

I’m still obsessed with the Season 1 ending in a fiery sword battle between a resurrected pilgrim and a Latine girl who will do anything to keep those she tolerates (loves) safe. Even when the show’s mystery became predictable, its ending, which was neither incredibly clever nor nuanced, was nonetheless very satisfying.

Now, if the murder/mystery aspect of the show doesn’t hook you…

The Romance(s)

Wednesday Season 1 8
Hunter Doohan as Tyler and Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

To paraphrase Jenna Ortega just a little bit, “Fuck love triangles.”

Before we get into the romance of it all, I do want to agree with a lot of people out there and say I believe wholeheartedly that Wednesday is asexual and aromantic. For starters, she was literally throwing nothing at these men and they were all falling at her feet. There were no mixed signals, Tyler; Wednesday wasn’t giving you anything. These boys confused Wednesday’s eagerness to solve the case and her need for them as chess pieces for some kind of romantic feelings. I could go on and on about how men idolize the idea of a neurodivergent woman who is not like the other girls and carries herself with an aura of confidence and self-sufficiency, but for some reason still needs them to help her out when things get tough. 

Wednesday Season 1’s main love interest is Tyler. A lot of what drew me to him was just how adorable and charismatic Hunter Doohan is. While we do learn that Tyler only got close to Wednesday so that Ms. Thornhill could keep an eye on her and the investigation, I can’t help but wonder if there was more to his initial attraction to begin with. Wednesday was drawn to Tyler from the start, whether because of his unique point of view and helpful knowledge or because she actually liked having someone to help her (without asking for help) navigate the town and its people’s interpersonal relationships. But my earlier stands: these two had absolutely zero chemistry. 

Wednesday Season 1 9
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams and Percy Hynes White as Xavier in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

I don’t ship Wednesday and Xavier because of that statement, though; I ship them a tiny bit because of their playful, hurtful-rivals-to-friends dynamic. Xavier is the tortured artist, a type Wednesday seems more like to be attracted to than Tyler’s small-town grounded boy. And I might even believe his hurt feelings because Wednesday did technically give him a little bit more attention than Tyler, especially after she invites him to the Rave’N (Nevermore’s version of a school dance) even if she only does so to save her own skin after he catches her snooping around his private art studio.

But the two of them wouldn’t have made a good match, either. When we meet Xavier, he is getting over Bianca (Joy Sunday), his siren ex-girlfriend, and dealing with broken trust. And Wednesday already doesn’t trust anyone. Whatever romantic relationship the two might have cultivated would be based on suspicion, which would have ended even worse. 

Wednesday Season 1 10
Emma Myers as Enid and Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

What relationship would have worked masterfully? Yeah, if you didn’t guess it by now, I am a huge #Wenid (Wednesday and Enid) shipper. Regardless of Jenna Ortega and Emma Myers being incredibly pro #Wenid and advertising it throughout their press tour for the show, you can’t deny that Wednesday and Enid have insane chemistry. “But they were roommates!” you might say, and to that I will pretend to be a character from The Office staring off to one side. I am a sucker for sunshine x moonlight couple dynamics; I think these two are the perfect opposites attract trope; and, while that trope has been overused and overplayed (Marceline and Princess Bubblegum immediately come to mind), it is still strong and consistent. 

I do think that having Wednesday and Enid just be friends in Wednesday Season 1 was a good step. It doesn’t necessarily mean the two of them can’t become romantically entangled in seasons to come (as just happened with Warrior Nun); it just means that Wednesday needed to get herself to a place where she can even begin to think about letting her guard down and trusting someone to have her back without having to mask who she truly is. If the hug she reciprocated from Enid at the end of the season is any indication of where their relationship is headed, I’m confident that whether or not they end up together, Wednesday loves Enid just as much as Enid loves her…even if she’s not ready to say it out loud yet. 

The Drama

Wednesday Season 1 11
Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, and Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

What would a good YA show be without some much needed interpersonal drama?

In Wednesday’s case, the drama comes in the shape of her parents – in particular, her mother, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). A lot of Wednesday’s internal conflict comes from comparing herself to her mother and believing that she’s living in Morticia’s shadow. It doesn’t help that everywhere she goes in Nevermore she’s reminded of what her mother had achieved by the time she was Wednesday’s age – as much as she doesn’t want to, Wednesday can’t help but compare their life’s journeys. Adding insult to injury, the murder investigation then weaves its way around Morticia and Gomez, contaminating her one solace and bringing Wednesday right back into her family’s embrace. The show did this especially well in Wednesday Episode 5, “You Reap What You Woe,” by forcing Wednesday and Morticia to work together to get Gomez exonerated from a murder charge.

While the show’s drama doesn’t necessarily subside after this, Wednesday‘s fifth episode serves as a gateway for further reconnecting mother and daughter. Both Wednesday and Morticia share the power of visions, and even then are complete opposites in how they are able to see. Wednesday is a Raven, driven by emotion and damned to a life of solitude (most of which is self-inflicted, something Morticia urges Wednesday to not let stay that way); Morticia is a Dove, her visions more positive because of her overall demeanor. The mother-daughter drama serves as Wednesday’s wake-up call: if she continues her over-reliance on herself, shutting herself off to help from others, she can very much lose her mind. And not in the fun way. 

Wednesday Season 1 12
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

Much like Wednesday’s novel, this show has its flaws – but it is proud of them. Most shows’ debut season tends to be experimental, messy, and part of a larger process of figuring out itself, its characters, and the kind of show it wants to be. In that sense, Wednesday is a successful continuation of this tradition. There are lots of things for Wednesday Season 2 to improve on and a lot more work for the show to do in the representation department, but it also managed to bring my entire family together, as we all binged it despite being countries apart. I didn’t even have to prompt them to watch it – they just did and loved it. 

The end?

Wednesday Season 1 Rating: 8.5/10

Honorable Mentions

  1. Thing
Wednesday Season 1 13
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams and Victor Dorobantu as Thing in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

Thing (Victor Dorobantu) was incredible in the show. I’ve always admired just how much comedy every iteration of the Addams Family has been able to get out of a literal hand, and this version is no different. I truly have to hand it to Victor Dorobantu who was literally in a blue bodysuit to play Thing and did a lot of incredible hand acting in the show. I also really loved how Thing is just as much a part of Wednesday’s emotional arc as anyone else from her family (and friends). They’re both ride or die for each other, willing to do anything and go anywhere, even if it means death. 

  1. Principal Weems
Wednesday Season 1 14
Gwendoline Christie as Principal Weems in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

Bend me over and– I’m sorry, that’s not safe for work. I adore Gwendoline Christie, I think she is one of the most beautiful, talented, charismatic, you name it actresses working at the moment. I’ve raved about her performance as Lucifer in The Sandman and her performance in ‘Wednesday’ isn’t any different. I truly felt pain when she mentioned that playing Principal Weems was the first time she’s felt beautiful because to me she’s always beautiful in the parts she plays. I just hope that more productions give her the love she deserves and allow her to play nuanced, well-rounded, sexy characters so that I can continue to thirst respectfully (and not) for many, many more years to come. 

  1. A Tribute to Fosse and Goth Kids
Wednesday Season 1 15
Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

If there’s one thing I truly respect about Jenna Ortega it is her commitment to the roles she plays. Hearing her talk about just how much love and care she put into the role of Wednesday, from taking cello, fencing, German lessons (to name a few) just so that she could give an authentic performance, it’s something that few actors truly immerse themselves in to the degree that she has. And to all the haters, I loved the dance. I think it perfectly encapsulates what makes Wednesday such a unique character, while also beautifully paying tribute to goth culture and celebrating its weirdness. I’ve watched the dance many times since watching the show and I hope it goes to show kids who might have been ashamed to be openly weird to allow themselves to be who they are authentically without fear of being “too different”. 

  1. Uncle Fester
Wednesday Season 1 16
Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

When Fred Armisen was revealed to be playing Uncle Fester I rejoiced. I think he’s such a phenomenal, unique, and lively actor that would definitely bring a new take on such a specific character. While I do think he Fred Armisen’ed it, I don’t think that this new iteration of Uncle Fester is out of the realm of possibility. I think he was incredibly funny, and that his “incognito” transportation was wildly hilarious. We often dismiss Fester as being naive or gullible, but I liked that they brought in his knowledge and expertise from traveling the world into the show, allowing for him to be smart as well as kooky. 

  1. The Baddest Bitches
Wednesday Season 1 17
Naomi J. Ogawa as Yoko and Joy Sunday as Bianca in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

Bianca and Yoko are those bitches. They’re incredibly fierce, I don’t quite know if I want to be their friend or if I want to be with them, but they are so incredibly badass and cool that I’m lowkey intimidated. They’re included here because I love them and need them to be even more present in season two. 

  1. My Main Man Eugene
Wednesday Season 1 18
Moosa Mostafa as Eugene and Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

If you’ve watched Addams Family Values then you might remember Joel Glicker (David Krumholtz) who played Wednesday’s (Christina Ricci) love interest in the film. I restrained from including him in my romantic interest lineup primarily because I do like how Wednesday is a ride or die when it comes to her friends and she literally went full serial killer on a spree mode after Eugene got injured, but I do want to put it out there that he immediately reminded me of Joel and the chemistry they had in the ‘93 film. While I don’t believe they’ll go in that direction, at least not right now due to Wednesday’s repulsion of becoming her mother, I did like the parallel between the characters of Eugene and Joel, plus Eugene is a bad bitch who has insane powers and true friend. 

  1. Garfunkel and Oates” Shout-Out
Wednesday Season 1 19
Riki Lindhome as Dr. Valerie Kinbott in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

May the gods bless Riki Lindhome and her amazing career, and if you don’t know about “Garfunkel and Oates” do yourself a favor and start here. (You’re welcome.)

Wednesday Season 2 Predictions

Wednesday Season 1 20
Naomi J. Ogawa as Yoko in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

I’ve been pretty much on ‘Wednesday’ TikTok since the show premiered a week ago and while I did like the Yoko as the stalker theory, I’m still way into the shapeshifter one. The show very nicely set up shapeshifters and their abilities through Weems and I do think that they should continue exploring this type of outcast. Now, while I do love the idea that Yoko is the stalker, I don’t think she’d ever text like that. 

Wednesday Season 1 21
George Burcea as Lurch in Netflix’s Wednesday (COURTESY: Netflix)

Furthermore! I also don’t believe that Gomez or Morticia would simply send Lurch to get Wednesday, especially if they knew the extent of what went down. I did also notice the eye discrepancy Lurch had at the end, one eye blue and the other brown, which could further prove that there is a shapeshifter that has been disguising itself as people Wednesday is close with or in close proximity to. While I can’t say for sure what will happen next season, I am already very intrigued and will most definitely be tuning in to see if our collective sleuthing yields results or not. 

Like this article?

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Related Posts

© 2022 Copyright Screen Speck