Delightfully deranged, sweetly sinister, and terrifically torturous. Netflix’s Wednesday is all of these things.

We start this journey at Wednesday and Pugsley’s school, played by Jenna Ortega and Isaac Ordonoz, respectively. Pugsley is found tied up and whimpering in Wednesday’s locker. When she asks him who did this, she is swiftly taken by a vision, seeing that it was the swim team. Once she comforts Pugsley (in her own “special: way), she assures him that she will take care of this. Before she sics piranhas on the hapless swim team, she says what I believe any sibling has said at least once, “No one is allowed to torture my brother except me.”

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams holding piranhas.
Jenna Ortega in Netflix’s Wednesday. Copyright 2022 Netflix. Screengrab from episode 1: Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe.

Because of this understandable revenge, she is expelled and, in her parents’ final attempt to get her educated, send her to Nevermore, the boarding school where they met. Wednesday seethes as this is the last place she wants to be. She claims it is because Morticia wants to make Wednesday a copy of herself. Morticia and Gomez ruled that school during their tenure, and Wednesday wants nothing to do with it.

While we usually see the Addams family as never having any animosity between its members (except for fester and Gomez, but for that, you’ll have to watch the 1991 film The Addams Family, and even then, everything works out), Wednesday is being a classic teenager and is very cutting towards her parents, especially her mother.

Wednesday meets her new bubbly werewolf roommate, Enid, from whom she gets a lowdown on the school’s cliques. She says there are many types of students, but there are four main groups. They are the Stoners (gorgons), Fangs (vampires), Furs (Werewolfs), and Scales (Sirens).

When Wednesday says goodbye to her parents, she continues to be cutting and cruel, and not in a good way. Even though the Addams family is known for their kooky ways and for loving the dark things in life, it seems Wednesday knows how actually to hurt them emotionally. Finally, Morticia lets Wednesday understand that every one of their family members knows that they are to report to Morticia, and Gomez should Wednesday try to run away. It seems like Nevermore is Wednesday’s last chance for education unless it’s behind bars.

Wednesday finds that her parents planted Thing on her, and she threatens him to be loyal to her within his five-fingered life. As the episodes continue, Wednesday is plagued by more visions, at the heart of a murder investigation, suspicion surrounding her family, and an ancient vendetta from a witch hunter.

I was skeptical during the first few episodes as it seemed like it would just be another supernatural teen drama starring Wednesday Addams. And to be fair, it still is, but it turned into much more. It explored the complicated feelings between parents and their children as children fight for more independence, come to grips with their dark past, and face their egos and cultural prejudice.

Some of the things I didn’t love were the constant use of the word “outcast” to categorize the students of Nevermore and their families as opposed to the “normies” of the town of Jericho. Because it seems like this world is more of an urban fantasy wherein werewolves, vampires, witches, etc., are a known and accepted fact of this modern society, I don’t know if they’d allow themselves to be called “outcasts.” But, on the other hand, I can see why they would want to have a different school from others for safety or even general education about their magical history. Still, it felt a little forced to label people as “outcasts” or “normies constantly.”

Another thing was the forced love triangle. Like many YA novels, TV series, and movies before, Wednesday’s choices of love interests are two nearly identical sad boys who are in love with her no matter how poorly she treats them. While I can understand that level of masochism in a more mature film, it seemed unrealistic and extremely out of place here.

Even though it has flaws, there were so many things I loved. The cast itself was impeccable. Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams is not only more comic accurate (we love a short king!), I saw my father in him. While my father is not as strange and spooky as Mr. Addams, he shows a lot of empathy and cares for his daughter and his family. He is the first to volunteer for family therapy, wants to tell Wednesday the truth of his past, and apologizes for hurting them with his decisions. If you try to compare him to the amazing performances of past Gomez Addams, you will be disappointed. Not because it is bad or lacking but because it is different, which is fine. His portrayal of the character shows a father who is carrying the weight of his family on his striped-suited shoulders. I’m sure he struggles with the fact that his son is bullied (I don’t think Pugsley is old enough to attend Nevermore yet) and that his wife and daughter are fighting. He doesn’t know how to fix these problems, and I’m sure that weighs heavily on his cold, black heart. Gomez Addams’s characteristics of being a good husband and father who is in touch with his more sensitive side are still present throughout Guzmán’s performance, and because of that, I am happy. The only issue I have with his portrayal is his stupid wig! They did him so dirty.

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia is delicious. She encapsulates the loving mother and wife just as well as any of her predecessors. Still, she brought a notably darker and more solemn aspect to the character, and I loved it. Like Gomez, this Morticia is struggling with a daughter who is rebelling against her and wanting to help their more sensitive son at the same time. Even though she is extremely emotionally intense, she also struggles with a dark secret from her past that has come back to haunt her and her family. She wants nothing more than to bury it, but it must be unearthed to reveal the truth. Her character arc also brings to light the fact that women’s plights against violent men are often not taken seriously, which almost always leads to the pain of others. Even though it is implied through other renditions of Addam’s family that Morticia is a witch, I felt like Zeta-Jones’s interpretation of Morticia brought this aspect of her character more to the forefront. I hope to see more of Morticia’s power in future seasons.

Of course, we can’t not talk about Jenna Ortega’s performance as the titular character Wednesday. She portrayed the snarky goth teen perfectly, and her unblinking stare made me uncomfortable throughout the season. I loved it. Through her character arc, we see an egotistical and self-centered self-proclaimed loner realize that the world does not revolve around her. Even though Wednesday is supposed to be dark and perhaps a psychopath, she still needs to be a likable character. However, for a little while, I hated her. She was unnecessarily cruel to her friends and her family, who were just trying to help, and she was often too prideful in her skillset. There were so many times during the first few episodes where I thought, “Wow, she’s a real jerk. Why do these people tolerate this abuse?” and after a while, they do draw boundaries with her when she goes too far.

She is still our hero, and she eventually triumphs, but she does it by letting other people in and realizing that she can be wrong, which is okay. Wednesday relies on her mother’s wisdom, her father’s love, her uncle’s investigation skills, and her friends’ kindness to finally triumph over the evil that lies beneath Nevermore’s foundations. Jenna Ortega was able to portray Wednesday’s emotional transformation through subtle facial expressions and nuances of the voice without losing Wednesday’s iconic stare and deadpan voice.

Of course, the other actors did amazing as well, even if they didn’t grace our screens for too long. Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley made me cry a little when he fell out of that locker. He reminded me of my little brothers, and I hope we see more of him in the future seasons. I want to see if Pugsley stands up to his tormentors and how he learns to be brave. I was delighted with Fred Armisen’s appearance as Uncle Fester and the magnificent Gwendoline Christie as Principal Weems. Christina Ricci was an amazing villain, and even though the show was a little predictable, she did keep me guessing for a long while.

Overall, the performances of all characters, especially those in the Addams family proper, made the characters more human and thus more realistic. Even though they are still creepy, kooky, mysterious, and spooky, they are also living and breathing people with human worries, desires, and fears for their family.

One of my favorite things about this rendition of the Addams family is that every member is Latinx, including Lurch. The only exception is Thing, but that this is okay because he is portrayed by Victor Dorobantu, a Romanian magician, which is cool in and of itself. Latinx actors don’t just portray them, and the show indicates that the family itself is Latinx. The family celebrates Día de Los Muertos. Gomez has family in Mexico, both parents speak Spanish (in addition to their classic Italian and French), and Wednesday is often found listening to mournful Mexican ballads. It doesn’t feel like the show is pandering to its Latinx audience and doesn’t try to delve into Mexican stereotypes. As a Latina, it was amazing to see.

Overall, I really loved Wednesday. Even though it was a little rough in the beginning, I think it was an amazing show. I hope to hear of season 2’s release soon and everybody from the family’s original cast better still be there, but hopefully, Gomez will have a better wig.

What did you think of the show? Is there anything I missed? Comment down below!