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Jenna Ortega in “Wednesday” Reaches Top 3 For Most Watched Shows on Netflix

The adaptation off the familiar Addams Family series has over one billion hours of screen time worldwide

December 13, 2022

Series cover poster

Courtesy: IMDb

Series cover poster

  Netflix’s new original, “Wednesday,” a spin-off series of the “Addams Family” movie series, has only been released for a short while but has already become a smash-hit, breaking “Stranger Things 4”’s record for most hours streamed within the first week of release. Directed by Tim Burton, the show has also gained a lot of traction on social media, thus furthering its popularity. Not to mention the fact that Wednesday Addams is already an established character, becoming a fan favorite in the previous movie installations.

  The show follows Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega), daughter of Morticia and Gomez Addams (Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán), and her time spent at Nevermore Academy, a school full of outcasts that her parents attended when they were younger. There, she meets her bubbly werewolf roommate Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), siren queen bee Bianca Barclay (Joy Sunday), and Bianca’s artsy ex-boyfriend, Xavier Thorpe (Percy Hynes White). She also meets headmistress Weems (Gwendoline Christie) and her teacher Mrs. Thornhill, played by Christina Ricci, who acted as Wednesday herself in 1991’s “The Addams Family.” Wednesday’s parents, in an attempt to watch over her from afar, send Thing, the detached hand, who Wednesday easily gains loyalty from. One of the other characters Wednesday encounters is “normie” Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan). While he isn’t an outcast, he still tries to the best of his ability to help Wednesday out after they become friends. Tyler’s father is the sheriff, and he hones in on Wednesday as soon as she arrives, believing that her father, Gomez, is an unconvicted murderer. Tyler builds trust with Wednesday after giving her his father’s police files on Gomez, which creates another sub-plotline that’s explored episodes later. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Tyler’s character. He sort of seemed like a yes-man to me and was incredibly bland. His only real plot points for the majority of the show were that he liked Wednesday and that he had a rough relationship with his father. Sadly, Tyler and Xavier were both love interests for Wednesday, playing on the love triangle trope. Neither Tyler nor Xavier were that great in my opinion. Xavier was sort of stalking Wednesday at some points, trying to sneak into her room and following her around, and Tyler had no real personality. 

  While originally reluctant to stay, Wednesday eventually finds a reason not to leave the school once she gets involved in a murder mystery, the prime suspect being some type of monster. In my opinion, the plotline is fairly well-done, and Ortega does a really great job at portraying her character, keeping a straight face with unblinking eyes for the majority of the show. Lots of people love a good murder mystery and I think that this one was executed pretty well, at least for a few episodes. An interesting aspect that was added to the show was that Wednesday gets visions predicting the future and showing her the past. 

  At the beginning of the series when Wednesday gets herself situated at the school, she doesn’t plan on staying for long. She bickers with her polar opposite, Enid, who, despite being a werewolf, has never turned into one, and tries out for the fencing team, causing an immediate rivalry with Bianca Barclay. While walking around at the school, Wednesday is almost killed by a gargoyle being pushed on top of her, but Xavier pushes her out of the way. Then, later on in the episode, Wednesday gets attacked by a classmate, and she’s shown a drawing of someone else’s vision, where she’s shown facing off against someone, the fight taking place in a Nevermore in ruins. On the brink of death, she’s saved by the infamous murderous monster that’s been wreaking havoc. This event is the reason Wednesday decides to stay at the school. While the inclusion of a monster seems to be a decent idea, the execution is sub-par at best. The design for the monster, which is later known as “the Hyde” is incredibly goofy-looking, with large eyes and sort of poor CGI. Despite the almost comical design, the Hyde does add an element of danger to the series.

Wednesday’s juxtaposition and highlighted differences when compared to her colorful roommate, Enid Sinclair, are clear from the moment they met (Photo Courtesy: Deadline)

  The show continues and the cold and calculating Wednesday not only tries to solve the mystery of the Hyde, which she deduces to be human, but also strengthens bonds with other characters. She confronts the sheriff about the monster and he seems to deny its existence to an extent, but they eventually agree that something sinister is killing people, and it’s not a person or an animal. 

  Throughout the episodes, Wednesday continues having visions, many of them showing her her past ancestor, outcast Goody Addams (also Jenna Ortega), and her fight against Joseph Crackstone (William Houston), an outcast-hating bigot who killed many outcasts during colonial times. 

  Wednesday is dead-set on solving the case of the Hyde, but other characters tend to interfere, notably Tyler and Xavier. The two boys have feelings for Wednesday and want to invite her to a dance called the Rave’n, which causes a wrench in the protagonist’s plans seeing as she shows no real interest in either of them. At one point, Wednesday notices scratches on Xavier’s neck, making her suspicious, so she follows him to a secret art shed and when Xavier’s gone she peeks inside, finding pictures of the Hyde everywhere. As she’s leaving, Xavier comes back around the corner and Wednesday is forced to come up with a lie, so she asks him to the dance. Xavier later learns that Wednesday wasn’t being genuine so they didn’t go together. The night of the Rave’n, she plans on staking out the Hyde’s cave, which she learned the location of through Xavier’s drawings, with her beekeeping clubmate Eugene (Moosa Mostafa), but Thing sends a letter acting as Wednesday to Tyler, asking him to the dance, which means Wednesday can’t attend the stakeout. Eugene goes alone, despite Wednesday’s warnings, which causes him to get attacked by the Hyde. Wednesday attends the dance with Tyler, leading to a jealous Xavier, making Bianca upset. The two share some words outside the dance that aren’t necessarily terrible, but not necessarily talking each other up. Back inside at the Rave’n, Wednesday dances, and her routine, while humorous to some people, actually was sort of hypnotizing to me. Ortega herself also choreographed the entire dance in the span of a few days, which shows off her incredible talent, seeing as the dance incorporated elements from 1980s goth dancing. Either way, that scene is currently one of the most famous scenes from the series. At the dance, Wednesday gets a vision of Eugene being attacked by the Hyde, so she tells Tyler and runs off to save him. She finds him on the brink of death and rushes him to the hospital where he remains in a coma for a while. One thing I really enjoyed was that Wednesday visited Eugene at the hospital a few times. It shows some humanity in her character, seeing as Eugene reminds her of her younger brother, Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez), who she also shares some sweet moments with.

One of the moves Ortega choreographed for Wednesday’s character at the Rave’n quickly became an iconic scene for the show (Photo Courtesy: New York Times )

  Parents’ Weekend rolls around in the show, where all the parents of Nevermore students come to visit and new evidence comes to light that Gomez Addams is a murderer, despite being cleared of charges years ago. After doing some digging, Wednesday finds that Gomez didn’t kill anyone, it was actually Morticia, and out of self-defense. Gomez just took the blame for her to save her from jail time. In all honesty, I didn’t like this part of the storyline much at all. It was a subplot within the show and it was pretty much unnecessary. I think the main reason it was included was to learn about Garrett Gates (Lewis Hayes), the man Morticia killed, who we later learn is an ancestor of Joseph Crackstone. However, I think that the way the story was worked in felt sort of awkward and I think the idea of Garrett Gates could have been worked in differently. Another reason the episode was probably added was to give Gomez and Morticia’s characters more screen time to allow for characterization, but the characterization wasn’t really there. While in all renditions the couple is madly in love, they lost some of their dark charm that was present in past movies, making them seem just a bit odd, while Wednesday keeps her death-related antics. 

  Following Parents’ Weekend, Wednesday’s birthday comes about, but she’s not interested in celebrating, seeing as she has a vision of a house, Garrett Gates’ house, which she later seeks out with the help of Enid and Tyler. While exploring the house, she deduces that someone is living in the house, even though the entire family is presumed to be dead. While searching, Wednesday and the two others get attacked by the Hyde, leaving Tyler with some wounds. Xavier, being obsessed with Wednesday, seemingly found the three others in time to help out Tyler. When back at the school, Enid blows up on Wednesday for putting them all in danger and she spends the following nights in a friend’s dorm. This is one of the first times that we see Wednesday genuinely upset and, in the aftermath of the fight, she quite literally sulks in her room, despite her normal lone-wolf attitude. In general, this highlights a bit of Wednesday’s growth as a character. At the beginning of the series, her character was incredibly reserved and actually disliked Enid, but flash forward and she’s curled up in a ball in the corner of the room, missing her roommate. 

  The next day, we learn that Enid has been popping in and out of the room, seemingly “forgetting things,” and the pair of girls bicker again, highlighting each other’s faults and flaws. Later on in the episode, Enid requests to be roomed with someone else. 

  The episode is also significant because it brings back a familiar character from the original installments in the franchise: Uncle Fester (Fred Armisen). His presence in the show was actually pretty enjoyable in my opinion. He didn’t add to it an excessive amount, but his appearance certainly didn’t go unnoticed, seeing as at one point he helps save Thing, who has been stabbed by was was assumed to be the Hyde. Fester and Wednesday visit a secret library and read through Nevermore’s founder’s journal, which contains information about the Hyde. The pair find out that the Hyde needs a master to unlock its powers so now know they aren’t looking for one murderer, but two. Further into the episode, Wednesday, against her better judgment, agrees to go on a date with Tyler and the two watch a movie together in a dingy crypt, where they’re soon interrupted by Tyler’s father, Sheriff Galipin (Jamie McShane). During the episode, Wednesday accuses Xavier of being the Hyde and evidence is found in his art studio, which he claims has been planted there. Wednesday also suspects her own therapist, who she believes is Garrett Gates’ little sister, Laurel Gates, as the Hyde’s master, after seeing her and Xavier having a private therapy session. However, her therapist, Dr. Kinbott (Riki Lindhome), is actually killed, presumably by the Hyde, so Wednesday’s suspicions go out the window. Meanwhile, Wednesday goes to visit Tyler at the coffee shop he works at and the two share an earlier interrupted kiss. This is when Wednesday receives another vision showing her that Tyler is actually the Hyde and she runs out of the coffee shop. This plot twist was actually well-executed and if you watch through the series a second time, it’s easy to see some of the signs leading up to the big reveal. However, through the first watch, the twist got me pretty good, although it wasn’t necessarily an unwelcome twist, seeing as how Tyler’s character needed something extra to make him more interesting.

  Following the events of the coffee shop, Wednesday ties up Tyler and tries to torture information out of him, which Bianca and others agree is too brutal, so they tell Headmistress Weems, who decides to expel Wednesday. While Wednesday is packing up, Enid comes to pay her a visit and they apologize to each other, with Wednesday saying that Thing missed Enid, to which Enid replies that she missed him too, which, in case it wasn’t obvious, was the easiest way for them to tell each other that the two actually missed each other.

The Hyde’s chosen design, reminiscent of director Tim Burton’s older stop motion works with the large creepy eyes
(Photo Courtesy: The Envoy Web)

  At the police station, Wednesday tells Sheriff Galpin that his son is the Hyde and that he should release the convicted Xavier, which Galpin absolutely denies. On her way out of the station, she runs into Tyler himself, who confirms that he’s the Hyde, as if the vision wasn’t enough to convince the protagonist. While leaving the school, Wednesday is allowed to visit Eugene, who had recently woken up from his coma. He tells Wednesday that on the night he staked out the cave, there was an explosion, and he saw that the person running from the cave was wearing red boots, which immediately let Wednesday know who the Hyde’s master was: Mrs. Thornhill. She realizes that Mrs. Thornhill is also Laurel Gates, Garrett Gates’ sister, and an ancestor of Joseph Crackstone. She puts together the fact that Thornhill has been the one living in the old Gates’ house. In all honesty, I could see this plot twist coming from a mile away. I knew that they wouldn’t just put one of the original Wednesday’s actresses in the show for no reason, especially as a side character. With someone as recognizable and known as Christina Ricci, it would honestly be a poor idea to not utilize her completely. I’m glad they did utilize her character, but the twist was just too obvious to enjoy wholeheartedly. 

  Wednesday goes to confront Mrs. Thornhill, who eventually admits that she is the Hyde’s master, just as Tyler creeps up behind Wednesday. Thornhill, having pretty much full control of Tyler, tries to get him to attack Wednesday, but she learns quickly that the person before her wasn’t Tyler, but the shape-shifting Headmistress Weems. Weems had heard Thornhill’s confession, where she admitted that she pretty much manipulated and controlled Tyler into doing her bidding. Thornhill influenced him to the point where he developed a deep connection to her, and was now loyal to her and only her. Seemingly having the villain caught, the viewer might think that the next events might be a chase or something, but the next scene goes down rather abruptly, where the skilled botanist Thornhill jabs a syringe into the neck of Weems, killing her almost instantly. This scene was actually incredibly underwhelming. During the entire series, Weems is this powerful authority figure and the fact that she was brought down without a fight was almost disappointing in a sense.

  Wednesday, still in shock after witnessing the quick death, is then knocked out by Thornhill and brought to Crackstone’s crypt, where she’s chained up and her blood is used to resurrect Joseph Crackstone. As soon as Wednesday breaks free from her chains, she tries to attack Crackstone, but she’s met with a knife to the stomach, which leaves her on the floor bleeding out, while Thornhill, or Laurel Gates, and her powerful ancestor make their way to Nevermore to kill the outcasts there. Luckily, Thing warned Enid, and she, Bianca, and some others helped evacuate the school. Meanwhile, Goody Addams appears to Wednesday and is able to heal her descendant, however, it means that Wednesday will never be able to see Goody again. Her wounds heal and she’s back on her feet. She runs out of the crypt, where Tyler is waiting for her. He transforms into the Hyde, but as he’s about to deliver the final blow, another monster attacks him. It’s none other than Enid, who finally transformed into a werewolf to save Wednesday. Werewolf Enid and the Hyde battle it out as Wednesday hurries to the school to stop Crackstone. The Hyde seems to be winning against Enid, but then he gets shot by his own father and Tyler turns back into himself in the arms of his dad.  

  When Wednesday gets to Nevermore, she finds Crackstone and pulls a sword on him. Her very much alive appearance surprises him but doesn’t last long as Xavier, who had broken out of a cop car with the help of Thing, tries to play the hero and fires an arrow at Crackstone, who turns the arrow around and immediately shoots it back towards Xavier. The line of fire is intercepted by Wednesday, who takes the arrow. She tells Xavier to help evacuate people and faces off against Crackstone. Her sword breaks during the fight, leaving Crackstone to use his magic on her. As soon as it seems like our protagonist is on the brink of death, a piece of the sword pierces through Crackstone, and the wielder was Bianca, which was incredibly surprising. I actually really enjoyed this scene. I feel like saving Wednesday really added to Bianca’s otherwise unexplored character. Bianca is soon knocked out of the way, and the distraction was enough to let Wednesday shove the sword through his heart, which killed him. As soon as it seems like the fight is over, Thornhill joins in, pulling out a gun and aiming it at Wednesday, which Wednesday agrees is the smartest decision the teacher made that day. Then a bee lands on the gun, followed by several more bees, until there’s eventually a swarm around Thornhill. The person controlling the bees was Eugene, who left the hospital to help his friend. Wednesday ends the fight with a swift stomp on Thornihill’s head. A real highlight from the show was definitely Wednesday’s character herself. It was developed the perfect amount in my opinion, making her a fully fleshed-out character. One of the charming aspects brought to her character were her one-liners and dry wit. Even when on the brink of death, she was still Wednesday, which really speaks to one of the big central ideas to her character, which is the fact that she doesn’t care about anyone’s opinions of her and she is unapologetically herself. One other thing that I really liked about the series is that, despite her calm, cool and collected nature, Wednesday isn’t invincible. While obviously talented, even in the first episode she loses a fencing match to Bianca. She’s obviously not weak by any means, considering the fact that she fought and beat Crackstone despite having been stabbed, cut and impaled in the same hour. However, she got beat down so many times in the finale, yet she still came out of the mix victorious.  

  After the final showdown at Nevermore, another winner emerges from the woods. Enid stumbles out and her first thoughts were about Wednesday, who she sees coming from the school. Enid runs towards her and tries to hug her, to which Wednesday originally moves away from, but she then pulls Enid in close and the two of them actually embrace each other for the first time. This scene is really powerful in a sense, especially for Wednesday’s character. Wednesday was distant for the entirety of the series, and even earlier on in the episode she rejected Enid’s hug, but after seeing what her friend was willing to go through for her, she finally let her in in a sense. 

Wednesday’s character growth is demonstrated when accepting her friend’s embrace, causing a heartwarming moment between the two (Photo Courtesy: The Polygon)

  The series concludes with the end of the school year. Bianca and Wednesday acknowledge and respect each other and Wednesday’s relationship with Enid is repaired. Xavier, who had been angry at Wednesday for her accusations of him being the Hyde, makes up with Wednesday and gets her a phone as a gift, which is ironic due to her rejection of anything modern. She turns to leave with Xavier calling after her, asking if she’ll return to the school the following semester, to which she doesn’t reply. On her drive out of the school, she receives texts that someone is watching her, along with pictures of herself. The final scene shows Tyler in a straightjacket waking up and turning into the Hyde, which helps set up for an already confirmed season two. 

  The show is definitely a good watch. While there are some aspects of it that aren’t the best, it was well-made and certainly interesting. In my opinion, everyone was casted very well and the show did a good job at setting up for a season two, which means success was likely anticipated. I feel that certain plotlines should be explored a little more, especially with side characters, because a lot of the side characters felt underwritten, heavily playing on the idea that, while she is the main character, it was Wednesday’s world and they were all living in it. With a bit of fleshing out of the characters, season two may be more enjoyable than the first season, and I’m excited to see what Burton and the cast bring to the table in the future.

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