[TV REVIEW] Wednesday is delightful in its delectable darkness


Screencapture from Wednesday official trailer at Netflix

BACK IN BLACK. Wednesday’s sudden ascendence to the top of Netflix’s most-watched is worth savoring whilst its vogue lasts.

In Tim Burton’s new Netflix special Wednesday, the Addams family is back in black. In the best way possible.

Wednesday follows Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) as she transfers to Nevermore Academy, the boarding school her parents attended in their youth, after being expelled from public school (the result of an incident involving piranhas). Nevermore, with its quad bracketed by sultry gothic arches, candlelit societies lurking below the hallowed ground, and timeless history seeped in secrets, quickly proves more fascinating than Wednesday anticipates. Even in a place built for “outcasts,” Wednesday, with her tightly-bound braids, checkered vests, and dry threats, stands out amongst her supernatural peers.

Even in a place built for ‘outcasts,’ Wednesday, with her tightly-bound braids, checkered vests, and dry threats, stands out amongst her supernatural peers.”

At Nevermore, Wednesday finds a host of characters, both friend and foe – neither of which she’s looking for. Introduced quickly are her color-loving werewolf roommate Enid (Emma Meyers), potential academic rival Bianca (Joy Sunday), and enigmatic art student Xavier (Percy Hynes White).

Soon, Wednesday becomes tangled in a web of mystery: first is a string of killings potentially committed by a monster in nearby town Jericho, where Wednesday meets barista and sheriff’s son Tyler (Hunter Doohan). There’s an unresolved trail regarding a murder her father may have been involved in as a student; fragmented visions – one minute there, gone the next – appear to be conveying snippets of the future to her. And what of Wednesday’s court-mandated therapist (Riki Lindhome) and Nevermore’s headmistress (Gwendoline Christie), both who appear to be more than they seem?

Wednesday is only the latest in a long string of media surrounding the iconic Addams family. A classic since the late 1930s when American cartoonist Charles Addams first published various single-panel works in The New Yorker, the peculiar family has appeared in various movies, television shows, books, and even a musical popular in high schools across the nation.

So far, Wednesday has been one of the most successful adaptations of the original work, and, importantly, the first to feature Latinx actors and properly embrace the heritage previously only hinted at. In its first season, the show has already garnered more views in the first week of its release than season 4 of Netflix hit Stranger Things. Season two was confirmed last week with a teaser announcing a 2023 release.

Wednesday, as its reviews may reflect, is delightful in its delectable darkness. Ortega perfectly captures Wednesday’s stubbornness and nails her dry delivery, while Meyers immediately endears herself to the audience, creating a perfect visual foil to Wednesday; Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia commands attention and absolutely deserved more screen time.

Along with the cast, much of whom are newer to the small screen, whoever designed the costumes deserves a gold star: every single outfit was a statement, from Weems’ assortment of sharp, monochromatic wool coats to Enid’s fluffy, lesbian flag-looking sweater (“I always say, ‘And they were roommates’!” said Meyers in an interview with Pride magazine, regardless of Wednesday and Enid’s canon romantic entanglements).

Wednesday also blesses us with several memorable scenes, perhaps the most notable being the now-infamous dance scene at the Nevermore’s winter formal (which was filmed, controversially, while Ortega was ill with COVID). Choreographed by Ortega herself and drawing inspiration from 80’s goth culture, the dance has exploded on TikTok; throngs of pedestrian imitators seek to replicate the routine. They try, I’ll give them that.

That’s not to say the show doesn’t have its flaws. It can be trite at times and the eponymous protagonist is near frustratingly good at everything she attempts, but, overall, the show’s shortcomings aren’t extensive enough to tarnish its reputation. Sure, Wednesday may not be the most unique or prolific show out there, but it’s certainly enjoyable.

Perhaps the only concern ought to be what Wednesday’s success means for other shows. In a world of fewer original works, Netflix and other streaming-dependent mega-corporations may attempt to emulate its success by continuing – or perhaps escalating – the surge of media adaptations. That’s not to discount how predominantly gratifying Wednesday is, though: so long as original, thoughtful works continue to grace screens, Wednesday’s sudden ascendence to the top of Netflix’s most-watched is worth savoring whilst its vogue lasts.


Wednesday can be watched exclusively on Netflix.