Wednesday Addams is brought to life by Jenna Ortega in this new Netflix series that works well enough, but would have been better off as a film.
The Addams Family has had several iterations, with the most recent being a series on Netflix. However this series is mostly focused on Morticia and Gomez’s daughter, Wednesday, which is clear because the series is titled just that, Wednesday. Jenna Ortega portrays her perfectly, doing her best to stay emotionless and morbid whenever possible.
Season one follows her as she is sent to Nevermore, the same academy where her parents met and fell in love. Almost instantly there is a murder mystery that she becomes involved in and as she hunts down the monster, she learns about some buried family secrets.
Hands down the best part about this series is Jenna Ortega. It is like she was born to play this role. Just looking at her body of work it is clear that she is talented, but she truly excels in this Netflix series and is one of the main reasons this review ultimately settled on the positive side of things. She takes the mediocre script and predictable plot and adds in something special. We would say she shines like a light, but perhaps it is more like she brings a darkness to everything that just… works.
The supporting cast is good too — they do what they can with what they are given. The majority of them are very well cast, with one choice that just doesn’t ever seem to mesh well, and almost throws off the final few episodes.
One of the strangest things about this series is the students of Nevermore. It is not necessarily a bad thing when details are changed or updated, but when we think of The Addams Family we think of a quirky family of bizarre humans living in a regular human world. The students at this school are all types of monsters including sirens, werewolves, and vampires, which feels like too much of a difference from what we are used to. This is important to the story we are given, as it becomes clear in the first episode that the killer is a monster of sorts, but this makes Wednesday feel too much like Monster High.
And speaking of monsters, when we catch a glimpse of this creature at the end of the first episode, it is nearly impossible to stop yourself from laughing at just how ridiculous it looks. Perhaps the team was going for silly over scary so that a younger audience can also enjoy Wednesday, but it is hard to fear the monster when it looks absolutely ridiculous.
The same goes for the choice to make this less bloody. It is clear the decision was made to keep this more on the young adult side, and it could have been so much better if they leaned in to embrace an older audience.
Wednesday season one has eight episodes, each of them clocking in between forty-five and sixty minutes, making it a fairly easy binge-watch. However, there is too much packed into the story, and too many roads to go down, that this causes quite a few pacing issues. In all honesty this show would have worked much better as a movie, with the other plot points being used for sequels. At least the sets and costuming allow for some stunning things to look at throughout all of the episodes.
The story itself is very predictable, which is another reason it feels too drawn out at times. Still, it is entertaining — again, thanks to a wonderful performance from Jenna Ortega.
Wednesday is enjoyable enough keep viewers watching all the way through, even if it does start to feel too convoluted at times. Jenna Ortega brings something special to the table with this one, and proves that she is as talented as everyone says she is, and that she is going places.
The series feels very Tim Burton, and that is a very good thing. Because of him the direction, the sets, and the costuming are on point and absolutely gorgeous. The issue really lies in the script and the decision to make this a series over a movie.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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The series is a sleuthing, supernaturally infused mystery charting Wednesday Addams’ years as a student at Nevermore Academy. Wednesday’s attempts to master her emerging psychic ability, thwart a monstrous killing spree that has terrorized the local town, and solve the supernatural mystery that embroiled her parents 25 years ago — all while navigating her new and very tangled relationships at Nevermore.
Wednesday premieres globally on Netflix November 23, 2022.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.