“Hell is other people,” she scoffs while making it known that Sartre was her first crush. A morbid obsession with death and unwavering disgust for bullies and “normies”, Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) is cut from a monochromatic cloth of grit and sardonic humour.
After killing two boys at an “ordinary” school, Wednesday is packed off to her parents’ alma matter: Nevermore Academy. Her father, Gomez Addams (Luis Guzmán), and mother, Morticia Addams (Catherine Zeta-Jones), are convinced that the school for misfits is where Wednesday belongs.
In a tour of the academy by Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), Wednesday’s werewolf roommate, we are informed that the academy is home to Fangs (Vampires), Furs (Werewolves), Stoners (Gorgons), and Scales (Sirens).
But Wednesday is an outcast in the group of outcasts, and her macabre visions ensure she doesn’t comfortably fit into any of the four cliques. She is emotionally distant and has a distaste for what she calls “tribal adolescent clichés”. She dons a black gown for a school prom when all the other students are dressed in white and does not let a smile escape her lips.
Her quest to uncover the truth of Jericho, that involves her ancestors, takes her down a path of discovering local lore, romance with a barista, secret societies, a monster (whose animation is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride universe), lethal chemical potions, human sacrifice, absurd therapy sessions at the local psychiatrist’s office, grave-digging, and haunted house-hunting with the disjointed hand called “Thing” by her side.
While the previous instalments of The Addams Family stories focused on all the members of the family, Wednesday shines its spotlight only on the 16-year-old for the most part, throughout the eight episodes, and Jenna Ortega is authoritative in her role with the dead-eyed stare that oozes an air of loneliness.
Though Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán enjoy less screen time, they manage to leave an impact on the audience too. Ironically, Christina Ricci, the OG Wednesday Addams, plays the role of a “normie” teacher in the latest instalment, and is a pleasure to watch. Gwendoline Christie (of Game of Thrones fame) as Larissa Weems, the Severus Snape-like principal, is stunning. The animation of Thing is cogent and the foley that follows in its (footsteps?) is ASMR-like helping us adapt to the existence of a disjointed hand.
The first four episodes, directed by Tim Burton, manage to lure amateur Addams Family enthusiasts into the world where misfits and outcasts pull the strings. To the uninitiated, Wednesday serves as a great show to get into the universe created originally by cartoonist Charles Addams.
The show’s treatment of teenagers is kind, sensitive and funny. The theme of accepting people who don’t fit into the mainstream is heartwarming, pushing the envelope of acceptance until people at the boundaries feel at home, in typical Tim Burton fashion.
Wednesday is all about that human connection; our psychic teen is pushed out of her comfort zone (mostly by her googly-eyed glitter-loving roommate) to unmask her emotions. In this rollercoaster of a ride where fire is rained upon the misfits and the outcasts, the reminder to remain true to oneself and extend kindness to the “others” makes this teen gothic-fantasy drama a great addition to the universe of The Addams Family.
Wednesday is currently streaming on Netflix