I just finished watching the final of eight existing episodes (thus far) of the Netflix series WEDNESDAY and remained pleasantly impressed throughout. I found myself particularly relating to the titular character as she freakishly danced at a school party, not caring what others thought. I remember doing that too a few times in high school, only I didn’t have a hot guy for a date admiring me and another one nearby jealously watching. But she, brooding, poised, and darkly beautiful, understandably did.
This is quite an imaginative, zany, and macabre show that shoots zingers at age-old insider/outsider social dynamics, making the insiders/establishment folk look like self important, often fake, fools. This first (but not last, I hope) season opens with the young Ms. Addams causing major mischief at a predominantly white public school, appropriately named Nancy Reagan High, getting promptly expelled from there, and enrolling in the Nevermore Academy, an old, somewhat Gothic style boarding school for misfits. She soon becomes embroiled in solving the mystery behind a string of grisly murders. The withering one liners Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) delivers, including about herself, are frequently the best moments. Her lovely, dead-pan visage in the face of so much shenanigans going on around her is both precious and funny. And some of the women’s clothes are fabulous, such as those worn by the tall and arch Larissa Weems (Gwendoline Christie), headmistress/principal of Nevermore.
Catherine Zeta-Jones, while no Carolyn Jones, who still remains the quintessential Morticia for me, makes a competent, glamorous enough Addams’ family matriarch. She is not as good as Anjelica Huston’s Morticia, due to being far less expressive with her eyes and more wooden in her interpretation. Nonetheless, she looks the part and smolders, somewhat, especially due to her sultry lips and voice.
I felt a mixed response to this series’ choice of Gomez Addams (Luis Guzman), Wednesday’s father. After watching suave and gorgeous Raul Julia portray him in the two A.F. movies from the 1990s, I initially found Mr. Guzman a let-down. He is thuggish and rather squat in appearance and very subdued. However, there is what I would call both a haunted and haunting quality about him that comes through. To an extent, he grew on me. At least he is more substantial than non-Latinx John Astin’s repetitive, two dimensional caricature of Gomez in the 1960s TV series.
I’m glad to see Thing, the Addams family’s (re)animated hand servant, playing an important role as Wednesday’s helpful companion and a sort of familiar. His/its use of ASL and general expressiveness are wonderful developments beyond the more limited use of this character on the original THE ADDAMS FAMILY series and the aforementioned two movies. The wonders of finely honed CGI have also helped to make Thing come alive more.
I would have liked to see at least one or two student characters of the Nevermore Academy portrayed as trans and/or queer in some way. Instead, we viewers have to settle for a Latinx lesbian couple being the two moms of one of the students. Their roles are brief, very peripheral. Well, that’s better than nothing for LGBTQ portrayal here, I suppose. Perhaps, and hopefully, the next season of this series will introduce a trans and/or queer identifying Nevermore student or two.
WEDNESDAY is a visual and verbal equivalent to an exotic dessert involving truffles and dark chocolate, a thrilling, rare treat. This is high camp with heart, Goth style. Delicious!