Wednesday: An Eerie Evaluation


Netflix’s Official “Wednesday” Poster

The promotional image used for “Wednesday” on the Netflix app.

Anne Yingling, Staff Writer

The following article contains spoilers for Netflix’s Wednesday.


When the Netflix original series “Wednesday” premiered on Nov. 23, 2022, it slowly began to take the world by storm. It managed to tip the crown off Netflix’s fourth season of Stranger Things for being the most watched English series within a week of release, without any prior seasons to back it up. It then proceeded to break its own record by gaining even more hours of viewing time the week afterwards. According to news website The Wrap, “Wednesday” has become the third Netflix series to break a billion hours of viewing time within the four weeks it was released, following in the footsteps of Squid Game and Stranger Things respectively.


Based on The Addams Family created by Charles Addams in 1938, “Wednesday” was created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and had plenty of executive producers, with some of the most notable being Tim Burton, Gandja Monteiro, and James Marshall. The show’s main composer was Danny Elfman, who has worked with Burton on many projects before, and was also the lead for the band Oingo Boingo. The perfect peculiar team for such a peculiar show.


The ratings show consistent, highly favorable patterns. On IMDB, the series is given a hearty 8.4 stars out of 10, and on Rotten Tomatoes, it has an audience rating of 86%, along with plenty of rave reviews. 


All of these milestones beg the question: how did this series manage to do it? The classic, gothic, and eccentric fictional family of the Addams is rarely talked about, despite being full of incredibly iconic characters. They have always had a peculiar aesthetic and energy, which would be challenging to match with today’s standards for high school dramas. Despite this, “Wednesday”, and its eight episode long murder mystery plotline worked.


It is clear that there is something special about this series. The Addams family has been brought back into the spotlight once more, and it is all thanks to “Wednesday”. But in order to find what truly made this ghoulish series explode in popularity, we need to look further. 


Since it is a dark comedy, there are multiple scenes containing mildly disturbing or crude content. “Wednesday” contains blood, mild gore, broken bones, physical violence, vomit, and mentions of suicide or suicidal references. 


The Plot 


The drama genre is one of the most highly demanded show genres in our modern world. Specifically, the high school drama is among the most popular with shows such as “Euphoria”, “Riverdale”, and “Heartstopper”. No matter if you love or hate this genre, there’s no avoiding the fact that it is very prominent in our modern media.


“Wednesday” is set at a high school made for “outcasts,” or people with extraordinary abilities that society views as scary or strange. Wednesday is sent to this boarding school to follow in the footsteps of her mother and to make sure she does not cause havoc in normal high school. While she is there, she is confronted with a major murder mystery, and dedicates her time to solving it with the assistance from the quirky cast of characters around her.


The series is defined as a “coming-of-age supernatural mystery comedy horror” television series according to Wikipedia, with an incredibly strong emphasis on coming-of-age, supernatural, and mystery.


The supernatural and mystery parts of the story seemed to flow with ease. The frightening and intense feelings of each were already present in the show from the aesthetics and setting. Having a high school that is separate from the main world and full of “outcasts” with supernatural abilities is destined to cause some spooky occurrences. It all combined well into a solid, mysteriously scary yet campy dark comedy.


However with such a high demand for dramatic content, some parts of the perfect plot were warped to meet the conditions of a high school drama. Love triangles, miscommunication, friend trouble, and romance problems forced their way into the story for little reason. We have all seen it before and we will see it again and again– with “Wednesday” being no exception. 


Having a little drama as part of the story would have made sense. Wednesday is a challenging person to socialize with, so having characters approach her mannerisms in a way that makes her grow is warranted, but the key storyline wouldn’t be altered at all if the constant miscommunication trope was removed. In fact, it would flow more smoothly if it was cut out all together. It would not matter to many if the “missed social cue” trope wasn’t used for the fifth time in the span of two episodes. No viewers would be offended if they cut the constant use of passive aggressive conversation about Wednesday’s social skills from the script after using it in the same episode multiple times. These forced interactions left the show feeling weak with parts of its writing, and it was especially common within the first episodes.


Though the writing wasn’t perfect, it was still entertaining. Aside from the first episode, there was rarely a moment of boredom during “Wednesday”. It meshed together classic story ideas with a fresh approach but still managed to cater to its target audience. The story felt strong and meaningful and made for an engrossing series.


The Characters


The Addams family carry a heavy legacy, and have been adapted into countless mediums year after year. Getting their characters just right is challenging and any incorrect interpretation could take away the centric deadpan and cold comedy of them all. Recent Addams family adaptations, like the animated movies in 2019 and 2021 have fallen flat to longtime fans, but Wednesday manages to get as close as it can to capturing the intended essence of the original Addams characters.


The casting for the actual titular character was the most important. Wednesday, the eldest child and daughter of the Addams family, is a character with many different layers. She has been shown in the past as peculiarly morbid, deadpan, and almost emotionless in nature. “Wednesday”, the series, looked for someone to stay true to those main characteristics with the addition of Jenna Ortega’s macabre performance. 


Ortega, who has been in plenty of other dark content such as the recent installment of the Scream series, exploded with popularity after “Wednesday” premiered. Her performance is praised and held in high regard because of how hard she worked for it. Ortega learned how to play the cello, fence, basic archery, practiced canoeing, and admits to inserting herself into Wednesday’s character in everyday life. Though the writing of “Wednesday” could sometimes feel out of place and forced, Ortega showcased a passion for acting that felt natural and perfect for who Wednesday is in a more modern context. 


Though Jenna Ortega is an incredibly talented actor no matter the scene, there were times when the writing of “Wednesday” affected the performance of her fellow actors. Every character in the show felt important, meaningful, and truly entertaining, but some of them just missed the mark enough to feel strangely out of place.


To start with the rest of the Addams, what stood out the most was the strange, one dimensional portrayal of Morticia and Gomez. 


Morticia and Gomez are known for being a couple that is head over heels for one another and are not depicted as on their own at all in a lot of media. “Wednesday” continues this basic idea of the two. When they are on screen together, they flirt, they stare into each other’s eyes, they kiss. When they are not on screen together, they talk about each other. There are few moments where Gomez or Morticia are alone and not thinking about the other. 


Yes, this is in character and very sweet to see, but their dynamic ruins their relationships with other characters. Morticia had multiple conversations with Wednesday that were meant to show mother-daughter tension that fell flat, and Gomez was rarely the focus unless it was a flashback of him that was  related to Morticia. They were morphed and molded to fit the plot and themes of a basic drama show when the Addams family have always been their own, original, characters. Taking away what made them stick out as quirky selves to make them the mold of a TV drama was very hard to watch.


Focusing on the students of Nevermore and the residents of Jericho, a lot of them manage to fit into already formed media stereotypes. There’s the popular girl that everyone likes except the main character, the edgy loner art kid, the peppy best friend (that is also Wednesday’s roommate,) and the golden retriever love interest. All of these stereotypes are mainly broken as the story continues, but it is glaringly obvious when they are first introduced. 


The best of these supporting characters were Enid, Wednesday’s polar opposite best friend, and Bianca, the popular one, and Wednesday’s worst enemy. Both of them managed to defy expectations set for them at the very beginning of the show and have sweet and satisfying character development that made so many people attached to them. 


Then we have the weaker characters. The edgy art kid was Xavier, and the love interest was Tyler. Both of them were part of Wednesday’s love triangle, and both of them failed to be more than that. Xavier was meant to be a red herring for the mystery aspect of the plot, but it felt like he was thrown into every scene with no reason to be there. Tyler was supposed to be Wednesday’s romantic interest who has a key part in the ending, but his character was and his final scenes had little to no impact since he had no foundation as a character. Both were written poorly which was hard to see since a lot of the plot revolved around them. For being such major side characters, it would have been nice to see them have as much development and thoroughness as their peers. 


The Appearance 


The look of a series matters just as much as the story. “Wednesday” is no joke when it comes to the way they handle set design, cinematography, and just the feel of their content.


The set design of “Wednesday” is incredibly thorough. The school of Nevermore is intricate with no detail ignored. It was one of the best areas in the entire show, and so many different ideas were utilized. Nevermore felt like it could have been a landmark, a travel destination, or the building and design for an actual school with its gloomy yet beautiful appearance–t felt real. It matched the aesthetic of Wednesday herself, but managed to capture the warmth of the other students attending. 


From the few dorm rooms the viewers saw, each character was given so many extra bits and pieces that made them who they were. Every room was full of the respective characters’ design choices, favorite trinkets, or decorations, and it managed to make them all feel so much more well-rounded. One of the best parts of this was the circular window that Enid and Wednesday shared, especially after Wednesday erased half of the color. Every single room was considered with care even though they were rarely a focal point.


The town of Jericho was created with similar ideas. It was incredibly sweet and was built just like a real small town in the middle of nowhere. Stores were packed in close quarters, but all of them had depth. If it wasn’t notorious for its supernatural occurrences, it could be a place that someone would wish to live in. This delicate craft blends into the wardrobe and makeup as well. Each character had a signature style point with them, and every single choice was appealing and captured the feeling of the show. The two most notable styles belonged to Wednesday and Enid, with their constant contrast in hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Seeing them together while being totally opposite was incredibly endearing and gave them so much extra life that we couldn’t get from just watching their interactions on the screen. 


The cinematography was incredible as well. Each scene was shot in a way that felt fluid and managed to constantly make Wednesday stand out. Though she was already built to contrast the colorful world around her, Wednesday seemed to always draw the eye towards her, even if it was dark within the scene. Though the show did have the classic Netflix saturation issue, it still managed to give a sense of gloom and balance itself out with muted tones. 


There was a lot of unseen work put into “Wednesday”, and it really paid off. The show looks incredibly visually appealing and is never too cluttered. It is satisfying to see such clean and detailed touches that really bring the fictional setting to life.


The Conclusion


Is “Wednesday” the most outstanding, incredible, life-altering piece of media ever made? No. And that’s okay. 


“Wednesday” was seriously entertaining, even if there were times when the plot felt a bit awkward. It didn’t set any new expectations or precedents for upcoming shows, but it did great with all it had. The high reviews and rave appreciation from audiences are deserved. Every single person who worked on the series did an incredible job to make something that was eccentric and a great adaptation and addition to the Addams family’s long list of content. It has remained on the Netflix Top 10 list for weeks, and its popularity doesn’t appear to be decreasing.


Overall, the show felt good to watch, the story felt good, the characters felt good, and the feeling after viewing was good. It was solid, and it made sense. However, it just needed a bit more work to be great. 


I would rate “Wednesday” an 8/10, which is along the lines of what many other viewers rated it. “Wednesday” was an eccentric show filled with so many incredible characters and so much potential, but it missed the bar it seemed to set for itself by a small margin. If it manages to solidify the intentions of the plot and characters by the second season, then it would be the morbidly perfect series it wishes to be.