Staff Writer Jessica Anne Rose asks serious questions of Netflix’s newest hit, Wednesday.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Netflix’s Wednesday (it’s been like three months people where have you been?)
Wednesday, Netflix’s highly anticipated spin off series starring the daughter of the Addams Family, gained worldwide attention when it set the new record for most hours viewed in a week for an English-language series on Netflix, as well as reaching the number one streamed show on Netflix in over 83 countries. The titular character is played by the incredibly talented Jenna Ortega, who took fencing, cello, German, archery and boxing lessons in preparation for the role. Her dedication clearly paid off, and she manages to bring new life to the seemingly undead Wednesday whilst paying homage to the 1964 television series and the 1991 film versions of the character; Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in the film, even returns as Nevermore Academy’s botanical science teacher Miss Thornhill. This version of Wednesday Addams is Latina like Ortega herself, finally correctly representing Wednesday, her brother Pugsley and particularly her father Gomez as the ‘Castilian madman’ Morticia described him as back in 1964. Ortega’s deadpan, unblinking portrayal of Wednesday is frankly just brilliant; her eyes are the only indication of what Wednesday is feeling. She is a stone cold detective who is dedicated to uncovering the truth, never caring about what others may think about her.
Then Netflix gave her two wet blanket teenage boys for love interests.
Wednesday meets ‘pick-me’ boy psychic Xavier Thorpe and the human personification of a kicked puppy in local ‘normie’ and barista, Tyler. Throughout the series, both boys take turns sulking because Wednesday doesn’t return their attempts at affection; Tyler even criticises Wednesday for ‘sending him signs’ and then letting him down. This audacity that only a straight, white male could possess should have been unsurprising to me, but instead it boggled me. Wednesday comes to Nevermore with a strong sense of self but an insistence that she is meant to be alone. She speaks in monotone, doesn’t express her thoughts or emotions outwardly, and is more than happy to continue writing her novel and solving mysteries. If the boys want to help her with that, she begrudgingly agrees. But for some bizarre reason they expect romance in return when Wednesday never even hints at it. Wednesday struggles to make friends, never mind boyfriends, and I really dislike that the writers shoehorned a romance plotline in there because it dismisses the character’s personal growth and all she stands for. Ortega agrees: “As far as the boys went, I had to accept it, I don’t think Wednesday would ever be in a love triangle. I don’t think it’s shown often enough, men and women having safe platonic relationships that don’t become romantic and are just genuine, almost sibling-like relationships.”
Now besides the two male love interests I didn’t realise were separate characters until episode four, Wednesday has often been shipped with her werewolf roommate, Enid Sinclair. Personally, I adore Enid as a character and it makes far more sense for Wednesday to date her because of the amount of trust, understanding and respect they have for each other. Both put themselves in harm’s way for one another, do things they are uncomfortable with for one another, and engage in physical contact with one another. There is no doubt that Wednesday loves Enid and cares very deeply for her, and becomes silently distraught when she hurts her. The promotional photos for the show really made it seem like it was going to be an opposites attract slow burner romance, and many of the cast including Ortega once again have expressed their hopes that Enid and Wednesday would date instead.
Now, Netflix seems to have it in for lesbians and cancel each and every show that they star in, so if Wenclair were to happen I’m not sure we’d ever get a season three. Though I really like the idea of them together, part of me wishes the writers had decided to lay off a romance plotline for the first season. Wednesday has a lot going on, and I think she deserved a chance to find herself before deciding whether or not she wanted to give a piece of herself to someone else. The big kiss moment is rushed, there is no chemistry between the pair at all and it comes out of nowhere. Why couldn’t Wednesday have figured out the mystery another way? Why were her friendships made into something bigger? Why did Wednesday need a love interest?
The short answer is she didn’t, but in most television series the main character is written to fall in love – especially if the protagonist is female. Everyone loves a bit of love, but in the case of Wednesday it belittled the progress she had made in learning to open up and make friends. Instead, what I have learned from the romance plotline in Wednesday is that boys never want to just be your friend. They will always expect something more from you in return for their attention, and everything they do has an ulterior motive. The show was meant to be jauntily macabre, but not like this! My hopes for season two are that Wednesday puts romance on the back burner for a while and develops her friendship with Enid, Bianca, Eugene, and strengthens her relationship with her family. I really like Ortega’s interpretation of Wednesday and hope she gets a bigger say in WWWD (What Would Wednesday Do?) next season.
I also hope that the writers Google the ace spectrum.