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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Tim Burton’s ‘Wednesday’ reimagines Addams family for modern age

Jenna Ortega leads the new Wednesday Addams teen mystery, now streaming on Netflix. (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

Full disclosure: I am 100 percent the target audience for Netflix’s newest teen mystery “Wednesday.” As someone who grew up with the CW and “Harry Potter,” I was destined to fall in love with any melodramatic coming-of-age story, even if it falls victim to tired clichès and predictability.

Tim Burton’s “Wednesday” follows the eldest child of the Addams family, who were first introduced in 1932 as the morbid and odd antithesis of a typical 20th-century American family. After releasing deadly piranhas on her brother’s bullies, she gets sent to a boarding school for mythical outcasts: Nevermore Academy. At Nevermore she becomes entwined with a mystery that brings together her parent’s past, pilgrims and her new psychic abilities.

One of the most captivating aspects of “Wednesday” was its aesthetic. The show is distinctly Tim Burton — it is dark and a bit gory, yet holds so much heart. Some of my favorite moments from the season saw Wednesday participating in school rivalries and bonding with her roommate. Learning the lore and traditions of Nevermore felt like discovering Hogwarts for the first time. 

The season’s mystery is at times convoluted — spanning hundreds of years and requiring a lot of exposition — yet extremely compelling. While some aspects of the mystery were pretty predictable, by the end there were so many threads that I was still surprised by the final revelations. I was especially thrown off by the plot twist at the end of episode seven. 

While I felt some of the actors did not find their footing until the later episodes, Jenna Ortega grounded the show with her outstanding performance. It is no small feat to take such a defined, well-known character and make her your own; Ortega does it seemingly effortlessly. Her line delivery is unsettling in the best way and her lack of blinking throughout the series is haunting. Ortega’s Wednesday is just as stoic as her predecessors, but she is also compassionate and artistic. The care she put into mastering this role, from cello and fencing lessons to choreographing the viral dance in episode four, is evident and made her performance convincing. 

By far the star of the supporting cast was Thing, Wednesday’s sarcastic and mischievous sidekick who also happens to be a severed hand. His relationship with Wednesday was very endearing and I found myself crying over a sentient body part multiple times. The rest of the familiar Addams clan were just as theatrical and fun as one would expect. I especially loved Fred Armisen’s Uncle Fester and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Morticia Addams. I appreciated that these characters were able to have over-the-top personalities without overwhelming the story or overshadowing Wednesday.

The weakest element of “Wednesday” was the love triangle between the titular character, the local town sheriff’s son and Nevermore’s “resident tortured artist.” Both love interests are one-note, with their interest in Wednesday being their defining characteristic. Paired with her general disinterest in both of them, the triangle came off as something the creators inserted haphazardly because they wanted to fit into the teen-drama genre. I wish they had more faith in the narrative and Ortega’s leading abilities instead of leaning on a half-baked and tired trope.

While I found the series predictable and clichè at times, that is rectified by the sheer amount of joy I got from watching (and re-watching) “Wednesday.” Despite cheesy moments and some dialogue that made me cringe, I had so much fun getting wrapped up in this odd world Burton created, and I crave more. 

Ultimately, my one true gripe with the series is that it did not come out in October and I have to wait a full 10 months before I can dress up as Poe-Cup Wednesday for Halloween.

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Isabella Gaglione, Editor-in-Chief

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