‘Wednesday’ Addams Is A Little Defanged But Diverting


Creepy, kooky and altogether ooky, the Addams family have dominated Hollywood imagination with their Gothic subversion of the nuclear family. Recently given questionable animated treatment in 2019 and 2021, this series takes these icons back to live-action legendry, placing a teen Wednesday’s coming-of-age at the forefront of their story. Jenna Ortega, an actress who has grown up on the small screen, really comes into her own as this more transgressive female character. 

Lone wolf Wednesday is sent away to Nevermore, an academy of outcasts full of cliques, determined to avoid inheriting her parents’ school spirit (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luiz Guzmán). Helmed by the towering Gwendoline Christie as Headmistress Weems, this boarding school brings to life a whole new world of creepy characters and sinister secrets waiting to be uncovered. The production design feels like a junior take on German Expressionism (see: that excellent stained glass window) which is impressive, though perhaps underdeveloped. For instance, for a keen puzzler like myself, the riddle that the Edgar Allan Poe statue holds is a little basic to be associated with such a creative master and reveals a similarly underwhelming secret society that features most of the familiar students anyway. 

Though the episodes have a runtime of almost an hour, Wednesday speedily introduces a whole cast of fun fiends, from queen bee Bianca (Joy Sunday) to kindly therapist Dr. Kinbott (Garfunkel herself, Riki Lindhome) to dorm mother Miss Thornhill (Christina Ricci, providing some subtle maternal advice to her spooky successor). A highlight of the aesthetic and joyful aspects of the show is Wednesday’s begrudging friendship with roommate Enid (Emma Myers), a werewolf with a pastel aesthetic which provides a delightful yin-yang contrast. As bouncy as she seems, she holds her steely determination (with rainbow-coloured claws to boot) to make Wednesday fun and fit in. Enid learns more nerve as they bond, and she quickly becomes as indispensable as Thing, the disembodied hand, who is equally charming and personable. 


Perhaps it is Netflix’s almost jarring high definition, but there’s a little too much brightness in a show that should be embracing more ugly, challenging aesthetics as opposed to following its Archie comic brethren with charming but homogeneous white men as standard love interests. However, despite falling prey to that particular boring trope of casting, this mystery is watchable and engaging throughout, turning upon every character in a classic haunted small-town monster hunt. 

Ortega shines as Wednesday, delivering suitably dead-pan dark one-liners with a subtle undercurrent of haunted gravitas that carefully constructs a faltering facade of fury. A particularly glorious detail is her cello playing, which brings passionate darkness to the heart of the show. Its similarity to other Netflix series should not necessarily be knocked; the show joins that landscape with ease and personality, making it bingeable and undoubtedly will accumulate teenage fans. Another new series may bring scarier horizons. Still, for now, this is a strong, likeable opener to give this iconic character the to fight, thrive and dominate, sprinkling a little leftover eeriness from Halloween over the rest of this dark autumn.

All eight episodes of Wednesday will be available to stream on Netflix from the 23rd of November

by Fatima Sheriff

Fatima (she/her) is a biomedical sciences graduate and aspiring science communicator. Literary adaptations with beautiful soundtracks call to her, but she enjoys anything with an original concept, witty writing, diverse casting or even the briefest appearance of Dan Stevens. Her favourite films do fluctuate but her love for Paddington 2 is perennial. She can be found on Letterboxd @sherifff and on Twitter here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.