“Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
Wednesday debuted on Netflix on 23rd November 2022. Since then it has broken records of Stranger Things and Squid Game and emerged as the most viewed series. I came late to the party and watched it three weeks after its release. There was this huge hype about the show but I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch it. I haven’t watched Addams Family so I won’t be able to say how they deviated from the original movie.
“Wednesday’s child is full of woe”.
This show is all about Wednesday Addams, the eldest child of Morticia and Gomez Addams. She gets expelled from her school when she releases some piranhas into the school swimming pool. The jock who was bullying her brothers gets a testicle chewed off. Yup. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be mortified. But that is Wednesday. She doesn’t care about rules or morals. In fact, she is a bit extreme. Her plans, her behaviour and her revenge are extreme.
Wednesday is a loner. She is going through the teenage angst phase where she has to have a complicated relationship with her parents. As for her brother, she both cares for and bullies him. But Wednesday has no friends. This is why her parents decide to send her off to Nevermore Academy. It is a boarding school for the ‘outcasts’, and by outcasts, I mean supernatural creatures like vampires, werewolves, sirens, gorgons, seers and more. Morticia and Gomez Addams were alumni so they get Wednesday admitted in the middle of the semester, believing she’ll finally fit in somewhere.
Wednesday doesn’t want to go to Nevermore because she doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. She meets her roommate Enid who is the opposite of her. They’re as different as a rainbow and a stormy dark night. Enid gives her a tour of the school and points out the different cliques. In a school of outcasts, Wednesday is an outcast. Someone points out her goth look is out of trend. But Wednesday isn’t a goth. She loves death and the macabre. In spite of her cynicism, her zest for life is seen in small things like wanting to become an author and beat her nemesis, Mary Shelley. However, publishers refused to publish her book because it was too mortifying and gruesome.
Her plan of running away is thwarted when she witnesses the murder of a student who was trying to kill her. He tells her she is destined to ruin Nevermore. Wednesday’s love for mystery and murder becomes her driving force to stay at Nevermore. She starts to play detective. More people are murdered along the way, sucking Wednesday further into the mystery.
Wednesday seems to be like every other teen drama with a pinch of sarcasm and morbid humour. I felt the influence of Harry Potter, Veronica Mars, and the Fear Street trilogy. There were tropes like clique rivalry, love triangle, friendship, and teen melodrama. So yeah, it wasn’t something new or groundbreaking. But I guess what worked for the show is the characters. In spite of Wednesday’s characterisation, I found her too endearing. Thing had my whole heart! Enid was a sweetheart, Ajax was too cute and the chemistry between Xavier and Wednesday was palpable.
So yeah, I really liked Wednesday. As she starts staying at Nevermore, she begins to change little by little. In her old school people used to avoid her, but at Nevermore people engage with her willingly. It is evident that she finds her community here. Wednesday opens up a bit more socially. She shows her affection a couple of times in the show. After Eugene gets seriously injured, she visits him in the hospital and calls him her friend. She cries for Thing, something she claims she hadn’t done since her pet scorpion died when she was little. I thought the Addams Family reunion was pretty touching, especially when Wednesday moves a little closer to her mother when she is about to leave. Hugging Enid at the end is the most emotion she shows in the entire series.
But it would be wrong to think that Wednesday changed completely. Oh no! She didn’t become a Mary Sue by the end, and I really hope she never does. Wednesday tortures the monster to get the truth out of him. She feels no qualms about doing so. There is also the matter of Thornhill. We didn’t get to see what Wednesday did to her. Or whether she is alive. Wednesday’s driving force to uncover the truth has always been about winning. Even though she comes to care about others, she is only motivated by herself. It is these anti-hero traits that make her special.
Jenna Ortega has said that she wants the second season of Wednesday to be darker, and I agree with her. I guess the makers played it a little safe with this series. The next season should deal with the darker parts of Wednesday’s personality and her powers. I also really hope the next season has more appearances of the Addams Family.