“Wednesday,” a series based on Wednesday Addams from “The Addams Family,” released on Netflix on Nov. 23, debuting with an opening week surpassing that of “Stranger Things 4.” That makes the series one of the most-watched series on Netflix in terms of hours viewed during release week, coming only second to “Squid Game.”
Several episodes of “Wednesday” were directed by Tim Burton, who worked on a stop-motion version of “The Addams Family” before it was scrapped in 2013. The series stars Jenna Ortega as the titular character Wednesday. The 20-year-old actress has recently starred in “You,” “The Fallout” alongside Maddie Ziegler as well as in the more recent slasher film “X.”
Funnily enough, Ortega’s character Harley on Disney Channel’s “Stuck in the Middle” identifies herself as Wednesday, smack-dab in the middle of the week. Ortega’s ascension to the role of a long-renowned character seems almost prophetic.
After releasing piranhas in the swimming pool to exact vengeance on her brother Pugsley’s bullies, Wednesday is sent to the notorious Nevermore Academy, a boarding school for outcasts. There, she sets out to both defy her parents and discover their past, while solving the mystery behind a series of local murders.
The idea is reminiscent of the premise of author Maureen Johnson’s “Truly Devious,” in which the protagonist also sets out to solve a murder mystery at an academy set in Vermont. “Wednesday” also channels several elements of “Harry Potter.” Her “dorm mom,” for example, tells her that visiting the town of Jericho is a privilege, not a right; this seems like a direct reference to Harry’s attempts to visit Hogsmeade. Other parallels include the students that are separated into houses of sorts based on their identities as sirens, vampires or werewolves. The self-proclaimed queen bee, Bianca, plays a role similar to Draco. The multiple scenes set in the infirmary also feel straight out of “Harry Potter.” These similarities aren’t necessarily bad and seem to be associated with a general boarding school setting.
Wednesday clashes very quickly with her new roommate Enid (Emma Myers), who couldn’t be more different from her. Wednesday has a gothic sense of style and a seemingly stone-cold heart, whereas Enid adores color and frequently updates her gossip blog. When Wednesday moves in, she immediately strips away the faux stained-glass decals on her side of their shared window, the dual-colored shadows making for a strikingly beautiful image throughout the show.
“Wednesday” seems to be aimed toward a younger teen audience and the series often references social media and modern-day figures of interest. While I can’t speak to the adherence to “The Addams Family,” having never seen the movie or read the comic strips before, several classic components seem to have been incorporated; one is the eerie disembodied hand that’s referred to as “Thing.”
There are also Wednesday’s parents Morticia and Gomez, with whom her relationship is fraught. Her parents eagerly send Wednesday to attend their alma mater, but one can’t help but wonder why they never sent her there in the first place. Nevermore Academy is considered a school for outcasts, but once Wednesday arrives, it is clear that the social hierarchy established outside of its walls unfortunately continues.
Clips of Ortega’s self-choreographed school dance routine have been trending on TikTok this past week, and the internet has been obsessing over how the actress doesn’t blink as part of the role.
Though targeted towards a younger audience, “Wednesday” is a fun yet slightly dark show. Wednesday is such an intriguing character made even more appealing by the modern setting – even the very first episode will leave you wanting more.