The classic creepy, kooky and spooky character Wednesday Addams, now portrayed by Jenna Ortega, returns in the new Netflix show “Wednesday.” With a myriad of monsters and mysteries, director Tim Burton continues his dark, goth comedy film reputation throughout the eight episode series.
The show follows Wednesday throughout her time at Nevermore Academy. Nevermore has a goth academic vibe, with its most famous alumni, Edgar Allen Poe influencing a lot of the themes at the school. There are many mysteries that revolve around the school and the local town, Jericho.
Nevermore is a school specifically for “outcast” students, some of whom are werewolves, vampires, sirens and gorgons. The special abilities of the students are why they are called “outcasts” by the people in Jericho, while the townspeople are referred to as “normies.” Normally special abilities in movies or shows are portrayed as something hidden, not wanted to be known by the world, but in “Wednesday” the outcast students are known as existing in the world but aren’t accepted.
Throughout Wednesday’s time at Nevermore she meets many interesting characters including her werewolf roommate Enid (Emma Myers), a shapeshifting principal Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie), and a “normie” love interest Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan).
Another interesting character is the first “normie” teacher at Nevermore, Marilyn Thornhill (Christina Ricci). Thornhill has a positive and preppy personality which is quite contrasted to Ricci’s former role as Wednesday Addams in “The Addams Family” (1991). Ricci’s roles in both the Addams Family movies and Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) make her appearance tie in the classic feel of Burton’s productions.
At Nevermore Wednesday uncovers past truths about her parents, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) Addams during their time at the school, and truths about her ancestors and their history in Jericho, but those are only minor riddles in the series.
The overarching mystery in “Wednesday” follows Wednesday in figuring out how to control her psychic abilities while trying to uncover who the monster — with Burton’s classic bulging eyes and electric look — is and why it has been killing “normies” and “outcasts” around the town.
Burton does a great job of bringing the characters and atmosphere to life through his well known artistic style. With dark muted colors and oddities all over the place, “Wednesday” was the perfect show for him to direct. The Addams family maintains their dark personalities and outlook on life, and the scenes involving Wednesday show that personality clearly: an outcast among the “outcasts.”
The show brings in many references to the past Addams family movies and shows, including the classic double snap and Pilgrim World, a reference to the Thanksgiving play that Wednesday destroys in “Addams Family Values” (1993). Burton also adds in references to his past movies like shrunken heads from “Beetlejuice” (1988), and metal weathervanes depicting the headless horseman from “Sleepy Hollow” and Willy Wonka’s hat from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005).
With the many plot twists that unravel throughout the episodes, there are still many questions about specific characters and plots left unanswered that will hopefully be revealed in a second season.