Tim Burton’s Wednesday premiered on Netflix this week, and the reviews are pouring in. The Nerd Stash is ready to throw in our two cents with our review of Burton’s Addams Family spin-off. While Wednesday Addams has become an icon, primarily thanks to Christina Ricci’s portrayal of her in the early 1990s, she’s never really been much more than a side character in the Addams family franchise. Burton’s series, centered on Wednesday’s teenage years, is the first time we’ve seen her take center stage. Does Burton make Wednesday an endearing character in the series? Read on for our full review of Tim Burton’s Wednesday on Netflix.
‘Wednesday’ Review – The Story – Wednesday Heads to Nevermore
Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) has always loved violence and vengeance. Still, setting a swarm of piranas on the school water polo team for bullying your brother is a bit too far. This stunt costs the team captain a body part that no man wants to lose, resulting in Wednesday’s expulsion. Gomez (Luis Guzmán) and Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the latter of whom Wednesday has a strained relationship, bring Wednesday to Nevermore Academy, the school for outcasts and monsters that they once attended. She is immediately frustrated by the experience. She’s mismatched with an overly colorful and late-blooming werewolf roommate named Enid (Emma Myers), and she develops an instant rivalry with a siren named Bianca (Joy Sunday). She is consistently under the surveillance of Principal Weems (Gwendoline Christie). She is forced into therapy sessions that she has no interest in. And she is also plagued with visions that she has no control over.
While attempting to escape, she meets and connects with a barista named Tyler (Hunter Doohan), who is also the son of the local sheriff (Jamie McShane), who has an evident distrust of Nevermore and its outcast inhabitants. As Wednesday tries to run away with Tyler’s help, she has a violent encounter with a vicious monster, which she feels is connected to some recent violent murders. She also starts to learn of secret societies, dark truths about the town’s history of treatment towards outcasts, and a violent action from Nevermore’s past that her parents are connected to. Once eager to escape Nevermore, Wednesday is determined to discover the truth behind all these strange happenings.
As a bonus, she has Thing joining her through it all. But she’ll also have to make a few more friends along the way for what she has to face.
‘Wednesday’ Review – Creepy and Fun for a Teen Drama
There is so much to love about Wednesday, which has all the spooky charm you’d expect from a Tim Burton story. From the moment Wednesday sets the piranas loose, which is a little shocking to watch, we know this isn’t going to be the spooky but family-friendly Addams Family we are all used to. We are seeing Wednesday go from girl to woman, so it’s no surprise that the show is going for a more mature and dark approach. There are some mature themes and scary moments that could have made gotten this show a TV-MA rating. However, Wednesday at no point gets as overly dark or scary. It’s still an Addams Family story, and the cooky comedy remains intact. Wednesday’s always had epic one-liners, and this show has no shortage. We also get a few familiar Addams Family references that manage to tickle our funnybones.
Wednesday also succeeds due to excellent performances. Catherine Zeta-Jones delivers a satisfying Morticia, and while no Gomez can ever live up to John Astin’s legacy, Luis Guzmán is fine in his own right. Gwendoline Christie is so strong as Principal Weems, getting so into character that you forget she was once Brienne of Tarth. The former Wednesday herself, Christina Ricci, holds our attention as a professor who takes interest in Wednesday. Fred Armisen is almost perfect in his cameo as Uncle Fester. And all the young actors prove they have great careers ahead of them
But the true star of the show is Jenna Ortega, who this reviewer will boldly say gives the best portrayal of Wednesday Addams ever put to screen. She has all the dark gothiness and quick wit that has made Wednesday so iconic. However, she also effectively portrays Wednesday as a teenager who is changing in the same ways all teenagers do. She’s learning to trust people, value friendships, and even be open to romance. However, at no point does she get all soft or gooey. Ortega successfully makes Wednesday a relatable teen without letting her lose everything that makes her Wednesday Addams.
Where Wednesday suffers a little is with its writing and storytelling. While it certainly is much better written than most teen dramas, similarities to shows such as Riverdale are just a little too noticeable. And like many of the shows of that style, certain twists don’t exactly come as a shock. Burton has more potential for suspense than this, and it’s a shame that the plot is a tad predictable.
The Verdict: Tim Burton’s ‘Wednesday’ – Altogether Ooky and Satisfying
Even though Wednesday is a bit predictable, you still love watching the plot play out. Even though it’s obvious where the story is going, you still get to see it play out in a fun, endearing, and unique way. Moreover, the season ends with unresolved plotlines and a cliffhanger that makes you eager for season two.
Wednesday isn’t perfect, and it’s not even among Tim Burton’s best works. But it’s still an enjoyable ride that only he could take us on. It stands out for its excellent visuals, compelling performances (especially by Ortega), and for taking us on a more profound journey with this familiar character than we’ve ever gone on before. Wednesday isn’t the best Addams Family story we’ve ever seen, but it’s a darn good one that one can sit back and have fun watching.
Have you seen Tim Burton’s Wednesday? Do you agree with our review? Share your reaction to the series in the comments section.