‘Wednesday’ Is The Gothic Coming-Of-Age We Needed – Review
What’s a coming-of-age story without some outcasts?
Tim Burton and Netflix resurrect The Addams Family to focus on the story of Wednesday Addams, the icon for goth teenagers everywhere. Scream queen Jenna Ortega seamlessly steps into the role embodying the macabre, solemn teenager in, arguably, the best portrayal of the character, after Christina Ricci, of course. Burton lends his charming gothic aesthetics and atmosphere to this story, building up the kooky and spooky tension throughout. It’s almost shocking it took this long for him to take a stab at The Addams Family, as it seems like an almost-too-perfect match.
Wednesday is expelled from her high school and begins attending Nevermore (Gomez and Morticia’s alma mater.) According to the official Nevermore website, it is “an academic institution that nurtures outcasts, freaks, and monsters.” All weirdness is welcomed. From sirens to werewolves, there is a whole lot of weirdness Wednesday has to parse through. Wednesday moves to the normie town of Jericho, which becomes a target for monstrous murders. Meanwhile, Wednesday starts to be plagued by visions. This burgeoning psychic ability has been inherited from her mother, Morticia, and becomes an asset in helping her unravel the mystery at Nevermore and one from her parent’s past.
This is your typical standard young adult story with a supernatural twist. I don’t knock it for that, considering the strong execution and performances kept me mostly hooked to the very end. It’s refreshing to focus on the trials and tribulations of a teenaged Wednesday – fit with a love triangle, deception, and navigating friendship. Sadly, the series is a bit too cliché. Viewers will be able to see how everything is going almost immediately. That being said, I quite enjoyed the ride because of the tension-filled atmosphere and strong performances from Ortega, Emma Myers, and Joy Sunday!
Aside from Wednesday, Bianca (Sunday) and Enid (Myers) had the richest development throughout the season. The former is struggling to find her own identity, separate from the pressure of the path her mother wants her to take, and the latter is not even close to living up to her parent’s expectations. It creates an interesting parallel between the two as they navigate their feelings’ impact and how to grow into themselves, given their circumstances. With Wednesday and many of the school’s young students, audiences can find a bit of truth to reflect on in their own lives- past, present, and future. It’s comforting to see supernatural people being vulnerable and dealing with the same pressures we do, albeit in a different way. Not only are they dealing with murders, monsters, and mayhem, but also the average growing pains. This is something I appreciate much more than the glossy, surface-level take of most “super” people today. It grounds the elements of this story, adding this relatability through its use of metaphors.
The climax and conclusion of the series follow Wednesday, discovering the truth behind the mysteries, and by teaming up with her friends at Nevermore, they can defeat the most significant threat. It was exciting to see Enid wolfing out, but I will say that Tyler’s “monster” looks a bit ridiculous. The hyde has strong Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed vibes. Considering how dark and dreary everything else is, it’s a little jarring, but I’ll defend it as a camp for now.
Netflix’s Wednesday is a satisfying coming-of-age that highlights the pressures of adolescence in the modern world with a supernatural spin. Everything within the school and her classmates worked well enough, but it was the backstory of her parents and the other adults that overstayed their welcome. Given the ending, it will be interesting to see the next chapter for the story of Wednesday Addams and her friends. If they greenlight season two, it would be great to get more Pugsley Addams and some of the other students fleshed out further!