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Wednesday: Jenna Ortega Series a Truly Refreshing Addams Family Story

When Netflix released The Addams Family spinoff series Wednesday, the reception was largely positive, and rightfully so. Not only did they focus on arguably the most interesting member of the family, but gave her a kind of nuance that was often lost when sharing screen time with the other members like Gomez, Morticia, or even her brother Pugsley. The way creator Tim Burton handles the other Addams gives enough where attention is never pulled away from the main character, even during the flashback scenes that featured the parents when they went to school because it fulfilled the greater narrative of the mystery Wednesday was trying to solve.

Wednesday: Bruce Campbell Entertains Evil Dead-Addams Family Crossover
Wednesday. (L to R) Thing, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 104 of Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the previous incarnations of The Addams Family, but they're largely stuck within the confines of its sitcom roots without any real room to grow. It's a formula that worked since Charles Addams' original comic, the 60's TV show, live-action films, and animated shows. Wednesday didn't have to go out of its way to tell a more nuanced story because it provided layers we never got in previous incarnations. The 1991 and 1993 Barry Sonnenfeld live-action films scratched the surface of what Wednesday Addams could do while helping to vault Christina Ricci into superstardom.

(L to R) Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 107 of Wednesday. Cr. Vlad Cioplea/Netflix © 2022

By extension, I would like to thank Burton and company for NOT turning Ricci's character on the Netflix series into an adult multiverse version of the character now played by Jenna Ortega. The actress does a wonderful job shining in every scene she's in. While there was a clear antagonist that emerged toward the end of season one, the real one is how often Wednesday tries to go against the nature of the character. I understand it is a coming-of-age tale of sorts, it is a high school setting, and the show will naturally check off all the clichés of the genre, but it seems like the intentions, however genuine, are counterintuitive to the character. That said, much of that may be due to the number of directors for the first season and inconsistency in vision when it comes to the character (a point Ortega has referenced in past interviews).

Wednesday: Jenna Ortega Series a Truly Refreshing Addams Family Story
(L to R) Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Hunter Doohan as Tyler Galpin in episode 104 of Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

First, it felt like the two potential love interests in the series, Tyler (Hunter Doohan) and Xavier (Percy Hynes White), never really meshed with Wednesday at her core. Not that she's incapable of love, but a relationship isn't something she was interested in, which is something that particularly annoys me in fiction how they can't let the main character embrace asexuality. That being said, I can see Wednesday gaslighting and manipulating those who have ill in their hearts to scheme her way to their comeuppance, especially for those who have nefarious intentions.

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 101 of Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2022

While the piranha scene establishes early on how Wednesday takes no shit from anyone, especially those who would harm those she cares about (like her family because no one tortures Pugsley but his sister), I hope we get more of those Bugs Bunny-type revenge segments on top of tapping into her latent supernatural psychic abilities. That said, I also appreciate how the series would occasionally bring to light the very real-world implications of her actions. What makes her special aren't those abilities or even her sharp wit. It's her superhuman ability to be empathetic on a detached level that allows her to operate. Unfortunately, it also helps blur the lines between justice and revenge. She makes society conform to her rather than the other way around. Who wouldn't want to embrace that?

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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