Wednesday showcases the sleuthing Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) who is supernaturally gifted as she attempts to master her emerging psychic ability. Wednesday is forced to attend Nevermore Academy, a school for outcasts and the supernatural while navigating her psychic ability, stop a monstrous killing spree, solve the murder mystery her parents are embroiled in from 25 years ago while navigating tangled relationships at Nevermore, other people’s emotions and her own ambitions.
Visually, Wednesday is a delight and a master at showcasing the gothic and the unusual; that is a delight for the eyes in the typical Tim Burton style that he is renowned for. Every detail is carefully selected and it comes off expertly, adding to the theme and feel of the show. The gothic style is prevalent in the series in Nevermore Academy and with the students, and in contrast, the neighbouring town of Jericho contrasts with Nevermore. Everything in Jericho is bright with no black making Wednesday incongruous with the environment in Jericho more than she is in Nevermore. Unlike every other character in the show, Wednesday only wears black and white while everybody around her is in colour- even the background actors, and because of this, Wednesday stands out visually and also in a fantastic performance by Ortega.
Jenna Ortega makes an excellent Wednesday, perfectly showcasing her comedic style mixed with a sardonic, sarcastic attitude but with a nuance that delivers a deeper performance with complex layers as Wednesday deals with the emotions of others and her own. Ortega is perfect for the role and encompasses the theme of the show and delivers more with her performance. There is much more than an emotionally cold performance, and Ortega makes Wednesday an intriguing character that stands out above the rest. Ortega stands out and owns the series on her own and when she shares the screen.
The main cast shines through with excellent chemistry and timing, but sadly, some do not. Xavier Thorpe (Percy Hynes White) comes off whiney despite having an interesting arc but it is let down as he pines over Wednesday and is offended when she does not return his feelings which feels unnecessary to the series and makes him an unlikable character. Mixed in a forced love triangle, or square, that Wednesday actively avoids but is forced into, it makes Xavier and Bianca (Joy Sunday) unlikable. Bianca is a character the series could have used less of as the plots with that character come off as a let-down for an otherwise fun and excellent series. Other than the titular character, the other standouts are Enid (Emma Myers), a werewolf, and Wednesday’s roommate. Enid is the opposite to Wednesday in every way, with the two terrified of how the other lives their lives. They both stand their ground and show a fierce loyalty to those they care for, but while Wednesday is vengeful, Enid is protective and encouraging to those she cares for. The two are incredibly sure of themselves, stand their ground and refuse to change or conform to anyone, and this is where they find commonality. Tyler (Hunter Doohan) matches Wednesdays satirical nature while contrasting it in some ways as he is from Jericho but deals with many of the same demons as Wednesday does. They have great chemistry that comes across naturally and adds to the series in an interesting way as Wednesday starts to warm slightly to having her own emotions, showing them, and recognizing the emotions of others. While Wednesday is cast perfectly, sadly, the same cannot be said for her parents. Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez Addams (Luis Guzmán) have little screen time in the first seven episodes but come off as caricature-like and seem miscast for their roles.
Nevermore and Jericho are embroiled in connected mysteries that intertwine with each other and ripple from the past, affecting the future. Sometimes the mysteries get lost in each other but otherwise are interesting with unexpected twists and revelations that make for a strong series and leave you eager for answers and wanting more.
The MVC of this series goes to the titular character, Wednesday Addams herself. The plot moves around Wednesday and Ortega takes control of the show in an excellent way, with charisma and comedy.
Overall, the series is a hit for Netflix. Some of the plot points lose their way on some occasions, but the cast and visual elements help tie it together and propel it forward. There are a few too many side characters that detract from the overall story but everything makes up for it and makes for an enjoyable viewing experience that is a delight on the eyes thanks to Tim Burton’s creative eye.
The first 7 episodes were screened for review.
Wednesday premieres globally on Netflix November 23, 2022.