Why We Love Wednesday
Most of us have been exposed to The Addams Family at some point in our lives. Whether you grew up watching the original 1964 The Addams Family TV show (and its countless re-runs!), the 1990s films, or the animated movies, this gothic family filled with kooky, creepy, and unusual characters has become part of popular culture. The Netflix show Wednesday is bringing a whole new generation of fans into the crypt. They’re going to be the most sought-after costumes for Halloween in 2023, so let us take a look into what makes Wednesday so popular.
The Addams Family began its life as a print cartoon that ran in the New York Times starting in 1938. The television show that first aired in 1964 finally gave the family members names and made the family a little less evil than their original incarnation. The TV show only ran for two seasons, but it lived on in reruns until the 1990s when it was turned into 2 feature films starring Anjelica Huston as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester, and Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams.
Other adaptations include a direct-to-video film in 1998, two animated feature films (2019 and 2021), and a live-action TV reboot in 1998 where John Astin, who played the original TV Gomez, returned to play Grandpapa. It has also been turned into 10 video games and a musical starring Nathan Lane.
So, what makes the newest incarnation on Netflix special?
First and foremost is Tim Burton!
The king of quirky films, with an emphasis on gothic horror, and a penchant for the macabre, he was the perfect choice to bring The Addams Family back to life. Having been approached to direct the 1991 film, which he passed on due to scheduling clashes with Batman (1991), and attached again to create a stop-motion animated film in 2010 (which never eventuated), it’s clear that Tim Burton has a soft spot for this project. As fans of his sense of dark whimsy, we knew we were going to love his spin on America’s kookiest family.
The Casting Choices
One look at Jenna Ortego and you can tell she was born to play Wednesday Addams. Her doll-like looks and deadpan demeanor match our expectations perfectly, and she brings a wonderful mix of teen angst and cheerful horror to the role.
Casting Gwendoline Christie as Principal Weems adds an extra layer of menace, both through her physicality and her previous role as Captain Phasma in the recent Star Wars films. Christina Ricci starring as the “normie” teacher Marilyn Thornhill is inspired, as both a nod to her role as Wednesday in the 1991 film, and because of the depth she brings to the character.
Acknowledging the Addams family’s heritage
Despite Gomez Addams having a Hispanic name, previous portrayals of the Addams family have not focused on the family’s Latin American heritage. Wednesday embraces the family’s background, in casting choices and in subtle ways throughout the season. You can find references in the décor, music, party games, and even in the choice of Pugley’s treats!
Making the old world cool again
The gothic aesthetic that is so prominent in all adaptations of The Addams Family steps into the old world and reminds us of a bygone era. From the architecture to the costumes, Wednesday delves into this old world and reminds us that old can be cool. Add in her cello playing, fencing, and love for her typewriter, plus Enid’s crocheted items, and the harpsichord music in the theme song, and Wednesday is a love story to the past.
Turning expectations upside down
One of the keys to its popularity throughout the various iterations is the way that The Addams Family breaks with normal behaviour. In this new version, this tradition continues and is expanded to other characters as well. Wednesday describes electro-shock therapy as satisfying, and an attempted murder charge as a sign of failure. In making Enid a werewolf who loves colour, is obsessed with social media, and has a cheerful disposition, we’re once again turned around from how werewolves are traditionally portrayed. Wednesday gleefully turns the normal on its head, and the writers clearly had fun doing it.
Outcast Among Outcasts
One of the central themes of the show is that you don’t always fit in, even in a place designed to embrace you. Both Wednesday and fellow student Rowan explain that they don’t fit in at Nevermore Academy, even though it’s a school specifically for outcasts. By showing that fitting in can be a struggle, Wednesday communicates to viewers that feeling like an outsider is normal, but it’s a feeling that can be overcome to build friendships.
Showing Who Is Truly Monstrous
In a world where monsters are real, Wednesday shows that just because someone is different, it doesn’t make them bad. We’re repeatedly shown that the outcasts can be good people, while the ‘normies’ are capable of terrible acts. Characters like some of the townsfolk and Joseph Crackstone remind us that intolerance is one of the most horrible forms of monstrous behaviour.
So, for embracing the outsiders, reminding us things don’t have to be modern to be cool, and providing us with some epically kooky costumes to wear this Halloween, we love Wednesday. We can’t wait to see what season two brings!
Did you know?
Wednesday was filmed in Romania
Emma Myers who plays Enid Sinclair originally auditioned for the role of Wednesday
Jenna Ortego took lessons in cello, fencing, archery, canoeing and German for the role
Looking for a Wednesday or Addams Family Halloween costume?