As the weather cools and the sky darkens earlier, Netflix has the perfect macabre mood piece: “Wednesday,” centered on the sullen 16-year-old daughter in the Addams family.
Jenna Ortega, who the feisty girl next door in season two of the streaming service’s “You,” gives the performance of a lifetime. She delivers deadpan one-liners and executes slow burns and calculated revenge plots with determination
Wednesday the character first appeared in New Yorker magazine in the late 1930s in a comic strip created by Charles Addams. Since then she and her kooky family — Gomez and Morticia, young son Pugsley, Uncle Fester and a disembodied hand, Thing — have become pop icons.
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Morticia in this new adaptation by director Tim Burton. Christina Ricci, who took the character Wednesday to another level in the Addams Family films of the 1990s, is in the new series but in a different role.
Ortega makes the gloomy girl her own in this new show.
Over eight episodes of “Wednesday”, the lead character is forced to be the new girl at a fancy boarding school after getting caught torturing boys who bullied her brother. The school has a place in Addams Family’s history — her parents met there decades earlier.
Trying to carve out her own niche within the student body, Wednesday goes on quests, attempting to solve mysteries while keeping her own identity as a novelist and musician.
Murder, betrayal, friendship and deep family connections that never seem to die are all carefully dissected and explored.
While the costumes and the cinematography are stunning, some of the plot lines leave gaping holes and some of the writing is stunted and predictable. It seems like a clumsy stab of reviving a watered-down version of the original.
However, “Wednesday” masterfully tackles topics including generational trauma caused by toxic family members. The teen characters are allowed to explore ways in which they were masters of their own destinies, regardless of what — or who — stood in their way.
Some sharp pop culture nerds will notice the many Easter eggs sprinkled in from across the decades, including lyrics to Taylor Swift songs and a version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black.”
Perhaps the best update was how many of these teenagers strived to be independent thinkers — and that’s a future worth dying for.
The series is streaming on Netflix MENA.