A Girl Named Wednesday
The only daughter of The Addams Family
REVIEWED BY Fazmina Imamudeen
The Addams Family has been reimagined time and time again, most notably in the legendary films of the 1990s, animation efforts and even musical forays. And now, this Gothic family has returned with a vengeance in the new Netflix adaptation titled Wednesday.
This time, the story of Wednesday Addams (played by Jenna Ortega) – the legendary and feisty daughter of Gomez (Luis Guzmán) and Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) – is told by famed director Tim Burton. His work includes classics such as The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Bride (2005).
Wednesday, the show’s eponymous heroine, gets more attention than in previous films and series, which focussed on the entire Addams family. Wednesday Addams is entering her adolescent years, and trying to find her place in the world while retaining her trademark black pigtails and deathly glare. The young student is multilingual, a writer, cellist, fencer and investigator; and yet, she still feels like an outcast.
As can be expected, Wednesday is proud of her eccentricity. This Addams family member actively works to avoid falling into adolescent tribal clichés by flouting societal expectations whenever she can.
Morticia and Gomez begin the narrative by encouraging their daughter to join the mysterious Nevermore Academy. Wednesday is instantly swept up in a web of peril and bizarre circumstances, due to her penchant for the macabre and supernatural.
“I know I’m stubborn, single-minded and obsessive – but those are all traits of great writers… and serial killers”Wednesday Addams
On the surface, the series is about Wednesday trying to control her psychic powers so that she can stop a murder spree that has gripped the community. The show’s overarching theme however, is the emotional maturity of a girl who has been estranged from the world after witnessing the brutal murder of her eccentric scorpion pet.
The lone daughter of the Addams family will learn important lessons about human ties and empathy as she navigates supernatural murders, school conflicts, teenage anxiety and fleshly desires. Though the story’s protagonist was an outcast and lonely student at the start, Wednesday grows to appreciate the company of others and ultimately opens her ‘black heart’ to those around her.
This teen series has already established several new Netflix records. Only two series on Netflix – Squid Game and Stranger Things – had hit one billion hours of viewing globally, until The Addams Family came along and achieved it only three weeks after its launch.
Also, while Tim Burton may have had a hand in developing Wednesday, the series was really written by the team behind Smallville – Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.
The action gets off to a good start with a memorable sequence. Wednesday brings terrible news to her family when she learns that her younger brother is bullied at school. She retaliates by releasing piranhas into the pool where the bullies hang out. This occurs in the first few minutes of the show.
Wednesday is instantly thrust into the social milieu of Nevermore where she meets members of the vampire, werewolf and siren subcultures. She is a little girl with a wicked sense of humour and caustic demeanour as seen in the first episode.
The show focusses on the exciting adventures that Wednesday goes on and her quest to find solutions to various unresolved riddles. She – with the assistance of her dependable sidekick Thing – soon figures out who is behind the killings that have been taking place in her town.
Watching a marathon of Wednesday’s admission into Nevermore Academy is enjoyable as the audience is immersed in the show’s surreal milieu of otherworldly oddities, mysterious animals and sardonic humour.
Without question, Gough, Millar and Burton have crafted a strange and zany tale with the potential to convert more than one sceptic.