Stream It Or Skip It: 'Wednesday' on Netflix, A Sharp Modern Take on the Eldest Addams Sibling – Decider

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The Addams Family (snap, snap) has been a hallmark of the horror-loving crowd for years. Whether in the form of the classic TV series or the live-action films, people can’t seem to get enough of this macabre family. Matriarch Morticia and the fiery Gomez may be the reasons some fans are so into the property, but it’s the eldest Addams sister who’s otherwise captured viewers’ attention: Wednesday. Though played to perfection by Christina Ricci in the past, the torch has been passed to a newcomer for Netflix’s add-adaptation. Is she fit to wear Wednesday’s all-black wardrobe?
Opening Shot:We see the exterior of Nancy Reagan High School and teens milling about. In walks Wednesday Addams, clad in black and in contrast to her fellow students. She walks down the hallway to find brother Pugsley stuffed in a locker with an apple in his mouth, freeing him from the bondage his bullies trapped him in.
The Gist: Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) has finally done it. After being expelled one too many times from high school after high school (her most recent offense being a pool full of piranhas with the swim team inside it), she’s finally being moved somewhere more “appropriate”. Gomez and Morticia (Luis Guzmán and Catherine Zeta-Jones) decide to send her to their own boarding school, Nevermore Academy.
There, Wednesday can be among those who are “like her”, and by that the show means werewolves, vampires, and all manner of other supernatural creatures, despite Wednesday being none of that herself. It’s all about being an “outcast” or a “normie” there, and you can guess which one Wednesday is.
But just as she’s resigning herself to her new life at Nevermore, Wednesday realizes something more serious than her flagrant disregard for authority is going on: murder. And some school gossip, or whatever. That part’s unimportant. What is important is the fact that Wednesday may be the only one at the academy who can help solve the mysterious deaths that keep occurring. And look good in monochromatic outfits.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? While of course we can draw comparisons to other versions of The Addams Family, Wednesday feels more in tune with shows like Riverdale or even the modern Nancy Drew. Yeah, it’s all about the mysteries here, and coming of age at a new school. It’s a new frontier for Wednesday.
Our Take: Overall, Wednesday is a fun departure from the typical “let’s remake The Addams Family” mode that creators often find themselves in. Its approach is novel and Jenna Ortega is a breath of fresh air in the role. Giving Wednesday a purpose beyond being dark and gloomy with a chip on her shoulder gives even the most hardcore fan a reason to tune in to see what she’ll do next on her mission to get out of Nevermore Academy – oh, and figure out who’s behind that string of murders.
Sure, it’s strange to turn Wednesday into a sleuth just like all the other shows you can think of starring snarky teens, but somehow it works here, even though it would have made much more sense to keep Miss Addams with her family as we do end up missing that dynamic a bit. Still, there’s a whole new world to explore at Nevermore with strange new characters you won’t be able to figure out right away. That element of the unknown already elevates the series into something more promising.
And Ortega pulls off her role with an astounding amount of grace and creativity, considering she already had such massive shoes to fill in Ricci’s place, though the actress does have her own character to play in Wednesday as Nevermore alum Marilyn Thornhill. It’s Ortega’s star power alone that helps drive this series from the very beginning into something that could have been mediocre into a totally watchable and exciting twist on a familiar franchise.
It isn’t all good, of course, as most of the dialogue is absolutely awful and sounds nothing like the way teens would actually communicate with each other. But these things can be overlooked, even if they do drag what should be regarded as higher-level Netflix-quality content down to The CW’s level. But overall, it’s a fun show that younger viewers will undoubtedly flock to, even with its occasionally cringe approach to worldbuilding and establishing scenes.
Sex and Skin: None in this episode, and likely none to come.
Parting Shot: Wednesday comes face to face with the very creature that looks to be causing the deaths that have been unaccounted for around Nevermore. And with a piece to the puzzle under her belt, she retreats to her room to look over her new set of clues. When her parents contact her to discuss her first week at Nevermore, she recounts the events she’s been through — admitting she “thinks she’s going to love it here” before grinning at the camera.
Sleeper Star: Emma Myers is perfectly grating as Enid Sinclair, Wednesday’s roommate at Nevermore Academy. She’s a colorful foil to Wednesday’s dark personality and style, and somehow she manages to say the right thing every single time to be completely and hopelessly irritating. Myers knocks it out of the park as this character, especially when given some horrific dialogue that in no way, shape or form sounds like a teenager would say it. She’s fantastic in this role, which speaks to her acting chops, because somehow she manages to endear herself to you in the first episode, even when she really shouldn’t.
Most Pilot-y Line: After Wednesday is expelled from her “normal” high school, she makes it clear to her parents she doesn’t want to be like them, which effectively forecasts her approach to Nevermore Academy. “I have no interest in following in your footsteps,” an indignant Wednesday replies. “Becoming captain of the fencing team, Queen of the Dark Prom, President of the Séance Society.”
Our Call: STREAM IT. The Addams Family has long captivated audiences, especially Wednesday’s macabre style and deadpan demeanor. While this adaptation makes some strange decisions, it ends up working in a weird way, which will interest both old and new viewers. Just try to ignore some of the “fellow teens” dialogue from time to time, which is here in abundance.
Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over a decade for publications like G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot, and more. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s collecting retro consoles and tech. Follow her on Twitter: @MolotovCupcake.
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