Spoiler-free review of Wednesday, which premieres on Netflix on November 23.
In the pantheon of the perfect cast, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams is in the category of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier. The new Netflix series, Miércoles, offers Ortega a hair-raising pitch that he easily makes his own, despite a few bumps along the way.
Since it is not an adaptation, sequel or reboot of the Addams Family movies or series, Wednesday you can create your world on your own terms. Great homage is paid to the haunting and hilarious family of Charles Addams, with a heartfelt love for the outcasts on display throughout.
Tim Burton (director of episodes 1-4) and legendary composer Danny Elfman continue to mesh perfectly, but don’t expect Wednesday to be as outlandish as some of Burton’s funnier movies. It’s very hackneyed, but “creepy” is the perfect qualifier in this case. There’s delicious gore throughout the series, but there’s also a lot of love. It’s hard to balance the two, but the series’ showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar pull it off quite successfully.
Ortega’s performance in the role of Wednesday certainly plays an important part in that success. Given the character’s apathy and generally grumpy nature, it can be difficult to bring a believable energy. However, Ortega’s ability to act with her eyes and the choice to save the few emotional moments for when they really matter make Miércoles an effective leading lady. By now we expect Gwendoline Christie to be exceptional (and she is), but Joy Sunday’s Bianca Barclay and Emma Myers’ Enid Sinclair deserve honorable mentions as well.
It’s always a bummer when you’re forced to lend a bit of credence to the internet’s preemptive reaction, but the only performance that does not work is that of Luis Guzmán. Not in the way that some complained about. However, whether due to directing or the actor making an effort to speak up around the false teeth he wears in character, he simply doesn’t meet the charisma requirements for Gomez Addams. Still, Gomez and the rest of the Addams Family are on Wednesday for a fairly limited amount of time, so don’t worry about this pulling too much of the story.
It’s a fun, silly, and sometimes gory introduction for budding young horror fans.
However, what does pull the story are the characterizations of the boys who surround Wednesday Addams. Through no fault of Hunter Doohan or Percy Hynes White, Tyler and Xavier (played by the actors respectively) are absolutely the dullest, blandest, most sensitive hunks of bread since Chilling Adventures of Sabrina’s Harvey Kinkle. At no time are the struggles or obsessions around these young people credible. Tyler and Xavier find themselves in the spotlight in favor of a boring love triangle that even Wednesday has no interest in being a part of.
Even so, Wednesday is a success. It’s a fun, silly, and sometimes gory introduction for young horror fans looking for a step up from Scooby-Doo. Elfman’s score is a marvel, as always, and the set design has just the right amount of exaggeration. Prioritizing friendship is a tough challenge for Wednesday to master, but her relationship with her new friend Enid is believable and heartwarming (just don’t tell her).
Wednesday Introduces a Whole New Generation of the Addams Family, with its hair-raising antics and an incredible performance from Jenna Ortega. Some tertiary characters struggle with the writing, while the more interesting actors stay out of it, but it’s not enough to make the series too stagnant.