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Wednesday is a deliciously dark comedy with a powerful Burtonesque twist

Tim Burton sets himself up to the challenge of adapting the Addams Family's freaky story to a modern-day setting, starring the brilliant Jenna Ortega as the lead, Wednesday. Read all about the show's success in Ryan's review below.

By Ryan Grant-Khailani, Third Year, History

Wednesday (2022-) is a supernatural dark-comedy that has taken a defibrillator to the Addams Family cinematic universe. The Addams Family themselves are cinematic icons – the freaky family teaches us to fall together and embrace the adversity and dysfunction inherent to families, rather than to pine for a traditional family model. This iteration of the Addams is Tim Burton’s first dalliance with the smaller silver screen, and his trademark cinematographic features shine, complimenting the macabre tone of the Addams Family.

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Wednesday (2022-) // Courtesy of Netflix on IMDB

The series has captured the zeitgeist of popular culture, breaking Netflix records for most viewed English-language show in a week, with 341.2 million hours. Wednesday Addams is played by 2022’s star of horror, Jenna Ortega, who, in this year alone, has featured in Studio 666, Scream 5 , and X and who truly shines as Wednesday.

Alongside Ortega, the series stars Christina Ricci who plays Nevermore’s dorm mum, Marilyn Thornhill, and was Wednesday Addams in the last live-action Addams Family film in 1991; Gwendoline Christie, who plays Nevermore’s principal, Larissa Weems; and Catherine Zeta-Jones who plays Morticia Addams. This cast of powerful and iconic women is one of the many reasons why the show is brilliant.

Courtesy of Netflix on IMDB

The show has a spectacular aesthetic vision which it maintains throughout. As mentioned, Wednesday is a triumph of the Burtonesque style; the set, lighting, sound design and all other cinematography elements are brilliantly imbued with Gothic overtones.

These aesthetic elements match the narrative tone and exaggerated style of Wednesday Addams, and against the backdrop of teen angst television drama, it is a formula that works very well.

The set designs are rich tableaus, constructing a world which begs exploration. The use of colour is masterful: the drab black and white which follows Wednesday is juxtaposed with the colourful world around her, most obviously with her roommate Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), Wednesday’s aesthetic antithesis. Each scene is an untrammelled visual delight.

Emma Myers as Enid and Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Wednesday (2022-) // Courtesy of Netflix on IMDB

The plot and the pacing of the show are morbidly marvellous. The show begins as a teen drama with overtones of dark comedy but before the end of the first episode, it becomes clear that the narrative of the show is much closer to that of mysterious horror. Wednesday navigates assimilating to a new school whilst also attempting to uncover a town-wide mystery, which she seems to have the ‘incredible luck’ of being at the centre.

Over the eight episodes, the screenwriters achieved a brilliant balance of creating a universe which is unique and has a healthy sense of mystery without being confusing or difficult to follow. The pace of the mystery is executed very well, with breathing room between revelations and an almost perfect number of red herrings.

The brilliance of the writing is performed superbly by an impressive cast, with even the younger members of the cast, such as Joy Sunday and Hunter Doohan, managing to keep us enthralled in the world of Wednesday.

Moosa Mostafa and Jenna Ortega in Wednesday (2022-) // Courtesy of Netflix on IMDB

I demand and insist that, once this show is greenlit for a second series (which I have no doubt that it will), the sequel is twice or triple the length of the premier season. I simply want to be oversaturated with Tim Burton’s visions of Wednesday.

Featured Image: Netflix, courtesy of IMDB

What did you think of this modern-day teenage remake of the Addams Family's Wednesday?