Spoilers can’t do a finger snap to save their lives.
You will see a lot of Tim Burton’s influence here, but he’s not the sole filmmaker involved. I count a lot of Tim Burton’s films as favorites and almost every main character is iconic. He is amazing with the premise and presentation in his iconic style. However, some of his storytelling lacks as it transitions from conflict to resolution. Fortunately, the long format of a series seem favorable to his style. Perhaps collaboration work has allowed improvements. Either way, the concept seems to have crystallized a lot better than I expected.
Wednesday (2022) is a Netflix show created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. The episodes were directed by Tim Burton, James Marshall or Gandja Monteiro. The original cartoon characters were created by Charles Addams and were the base for the TV series The Addams Family (1964). The show focuses primarily on Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) navigating her teenage years as she’s expelled from the last of a number of schools to end up at Nevermore Academy. The school is well known for being the last refuge for outcasts such as werewolves, gorgons, vampires, sirens and other folk that regular humans, aka “normies”, fear. There she will make friends and enemies, a category that often overlaps for Wednesday. The nearby town of Jericho also hosts a number of regular people that don’t take too kindly to outcasts, providing more powder for this keg.
The main attraction of course is the cast of delightfully zany characters. There’s Nevermore’s Principal Weems (Gwendoline Christie); Wednesday’s court-mandated therapist Dr. Kinbott (Riki Lindhome); the judgement town Sheriff Galpin (Jamie McShane); Nevermore’s botany teacher and girls’ dorm mother Marilyn Thornhill (Christina Ricci) among others. Wednesday also has two possible love interests: local coffee barista and son of the Sheriff, Tyler (Hunter Doohan) and a rich Nevermore student artist Xavier Thorpe (Percy Hynes White) who can bring his art to life. She also has a rival in Nevermore’s most popular student siren Bianca (Joy Sunday) who is capable to controlling people with her voice.
My favorite character though is Enid (Emma Myers), Wednesday’s roommate. When we meet her, she’s Wednesday complete polar opposite. She’s vivacious, socially extroverted, colourful, wears her heart on her sleeve and tries really hard to be friends with the stoic Wednesday. Also trying really hard to help her out are of course the rest of the Addams family: Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), Gomez (Luis Guzman), Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez) amongst others. The dynamics between Morticia and Wednesday drive a lot of the subplot.
However, dead center to this story is a supernatural mystery. Nevermore and the nearby town of Jericho are facing a threat in the form of a monster that has killed several people both normies and outcasts. After a close encounter, Wednesday is determined to bring this creature to justice, but in doing so discovers an old murder that might implicate her own father, Gomez Addams. The odds escalate as Wednesday realizes the monster is someone she knows. For a stoic character like Wednesday, this means that after she has allowed herself to trust friends for the first time, she now must challenge those fragile friendships. This makes this horror-themed teenage drama essentially boil down to a detective story.
Highly recommended with reservations. Plot holes abound, but the strength of this feature rests on the stoic performance of Wednesday as portrayed by Jenna Ortega. The ability to keep her cool but slightly betray a sliver of emotion is crucial here. Although not every plot thread is wrapped up and potential story angles are left on the table, the show does manage to make us care about the characters and what happens to them. Worth a watch.
That will do for now.