Wednesday review on Wednesday: Jenna Ortega steals the show

Tim Burton's Wednesday doesn't feel out of place in 2022.

by Justin Choo

It is perhaps to Charles Addams’ credit that his pre-World War II creation has such astounding longevity. While it’s hard to beat the most iconic cast of 1991, Wednesday is a worthy addition to the franchise, capturing all the quirkiness that made the Addams family as charming as they are.

Wednesday, who is shown to be unmanageable, gets transferred to Nevermore Academy, where outcasts go to be self-contained and stay out of trouble–this includes vampires and gorgons who otherwise live semi-ordinary lives.

Ultimately, Jenna Ortega’s unwavering, piercing stare is what sells Wednesday, the Tim Burton-produced spinoff. It’s fair to say that while Christina Ricci is the silver screen’s definitive Wednesday, Ortega’s modern interpretation comes a close second.

Not to state the obvious but these roomies are polar opposites of each other.

In fact, Ricci symbolically gives her blessings by playing Marilyn Tornhill, ‘dorm mum’ to Wednesday and her roomie, Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers). While Tornhill won’t displace Ricci’s most memorable character in the franchise, Ricci’s new role in the Addams universe is often low-key stealing her scenes.

The Addams Family is at its heart, a satiric take on the American family, which requires that you pit the motley bunch against ‘normies’ for maximum impact. What really sells Wednesday and her ‘goth, but with a bit more goth’ disaffection is the fact that she doesn’t care anything about that either.

Probably best visual metaphor for what goes on inside her head.

As such, Wednesday feels loopy enough like an Addams Family franchise to get away with as much absurdity as it does, and at the same time, the spinoff forges its own path as an amalgamation of horror, murder mystery and teen drama rolled into one–and manages to pull it off despite a fairly pedestrian script.

The dialogue can be a little ham-fisted at the start but to be fair it’s not exactly the easiest show to explain with a few short lines of exposition. But once the series gets going, the momentum renders any minute niggles moot. Wednesday’s relentless crusade to get to the truth and her refusal to engage in classic genre tropes only add to the show’s charm–awkward conversations and biting clapbacks.

Others have have managed squeeze out a half-smile, but it’s Uncle Fester who’s clearly Wednesday’s shining beacon.

It all works because Wednesday does display a capacity to care–also, she smiles unabashedly at the sight of Uncle Fester–and it makes her an immensely likeable personality. There’s certainly plenty of potential for future seasons.

Cast highlights

Much of what makes Wednesday work is the chemistry between its actors. And Wednesday certainly is blessed with a well-assembled, if not spectacular, cast with A-list credentials. Aside from Ricci, Gwendoline Christie really puts a shift in here as the foreboding Principal Larissa Weems. Catherine Zeta-Jones’s Morticia Adams was serviceable while Fred Armisen’s Uncle Fester is less Fester and more uncle–but the resulting chemistry between Fester and Wednesday justifies the pick.

Other shining lights include Enid and Eugene Otinger (Moosa Mostafa), two Nevermore students who are somewhat immune to Wednesday’s most prickly self and will no doubt be key figures in her school life and possibly future seasons ahead. Extra props to Joy Sunday’s Bianca Barclay, Jamie McShane’s Donovan Galpin, and a bit of casting serendipity with Lucius Hoyos as a young Gomez Addams.

  • 8/10
    Wednesday - 8/10


You don’t need to be a fan to revel in Wednesday’s wacky world. The Addams Family feels far from dated, and Tim Burton once again is able to find a space where a dated premise can have a new lease of life. But the highlight still has got to be Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday, who is good enough to carry the entire series.

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