Wednesday, the new Tim Burton show that’s a reimagining of the Addams Family for the YA era, is Netflix’s newest explosive hit, setting English language records for hours watched its first week, beating out even Stranger Things season 4. Season 2, or 3, or 4 are more or less guaranteed at this point, but I wanted to take a hard look at the show itself before that starts getting announced.
Wednesday is an okay show that is turned into a good one by a pretty astonishing performance from its lead, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams herself.
Ortega has been on the verge of a major breakout role in the past few years with spots in You season 2, the new Scream movie and others, but this is it, Wednesday is clearly her moment.
Ortega’s interpretation of the stoic, morbid character is the main thing that makes the entire series work. Her performance methods are already the stuff of legend, where it’s said she reshot any scene where she blinked, and she personally helped choreograph the bizarre, goth dance sequence that has since taken over Tik Tok.
Wednesday strikes exactly the right balance of being prickly and overtly hostile and a-emotional while still being a compelling lead with just enough humanity to make her someone you’re still able to root for. Without Ortega here, I’m not sure anything else about the series would work.
There are a few bright spots in the supporting cast, namely Wednesday’s roommate Enid, played by Emma Sinclair. “Shippers” are hoping the two of them will graduate to girlfriends by the end of the series, but who knows if that’s the plan. It doesn’t strike me as a particular Tim Burton-type development, even if it would make sense given their chemistry.
The show structure itself, trying to solve a decades old mystery woven into a current string of murders, isn’t great. Wednesday, as good a character as she is, is terrible at solving mysteries, pointing her finger at incorrect suspects a dozen times until the very last minute of the season. The final explanation was sort of easy to see coming with some pretty clear clues and some pretty obvious red herrings to see through. Fortunately, Wednesday herself is so good, you’d watch Ortega really do anything in the role. I just hope the season 2 script is a bit more interesting and compelling than what we got here in season 1.
Future seasons are supposed to expand the Addams Family itself, which only have some cameos in this first outing. Thing, literally just a hand controlled by a guy who I assume is wearing a green bodysuit, is a great character despite being just that, a hand. I really like Luis Guzman as Gomez, and I hope to see more from him other than just constant doting on Catherine Zeta-Jones’ Morticia. Also, more Lurch please.
The show is the birth of a monster franchise for Netflix. Expect 3-4 more years of Wednesday and the expanded Addams Family universe, anchored by Ortega. Hopefully the show itself can start living up to her performance.