On February 6, 1932, cartoonist Charles Addams had his first sketch, that of a window washer, published by the New Yorker. Six years later, in 1938, the first ever appearance of the Addams Family was published in cartoon form, in the same magazine. From that moment forward, and for the next half century, Addams would create a total of one hundred and fifty cartoons that centered on the family. The Addams family members remained nameless until September 18, 1964, when ABC (The American Broadcasting Company), premiered the first black-and-white episode of the television series “The Addams Family.” The show would run for two seasons, for a total of sixty-four episodes, airing its final episode on April 8, 1966. Since the original series conclusion, the Addams Family has continued to be a part of different popular culture mediums, from subsequent television series and movies, to feature films, as well as video games and books. Throughout its run, there have been nine actresses, who have voiced or acted the role of Wednesday Addams, beginning with Lisa Loring, in the original series, up until the present Netflix series, which stars Golden Globe nominee Jenna Ortega (Scream).
Pugsley Addams (Isaac Ordonez), Wednesday’s brother, has been victimized by his high school bullies. The act, like it would with any sibling worth their salt, doesn’t sit well with her. Unlike most siblings, who would have choice words for their sibling’s tormentor(s), or get into a physical altercation, Wednesday’s revenge is different. As it turns out, Pugsley’s bullies are in the swimming pool, so Wednesday in an effort to teach them a lesson, releases piranhas into the pool. Needless to say, she gets revenge on behalf of Pugsley. She also, however, gets expelled from high school. Her actions prompt her parents Morticia, portrayed by Oscar and BAFTA winner, Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), and father Gomez, played by Luis Guzman (Traffic), to enroll Wednesday in their Alma mater Nevermore Academy. It is a boarding school that provides a safe environment for vampires, werewolves, sirens, and others that come from a supernatural or magical background. Nevermore is run by Principal Larissa Weems, a role acted by Emmy nominee Gwendoline Christie (Game of Thrones). Wednesday is warned by Morticia, that there is nowhere she can run to if she leaves Nevermore, that all of the extended family members have been alerted. One thing Wednesday has kept secret from her family, before she is enrolled at Nevermore, is that she has been having psychic visions.
Additional cast members include, but are not limited to: Two time Emmy nominee, Christina Ricci (Yellowjackets). She plays botanist teacher, Marilyn Thornhill. She is seemingly the only person at Nevermore, that doesn’t come from a supernatural background, or possess magical abilities. The Addams family’s strange, but lovable Uncle Fester is portrayed by Emmy nominee, Fred Armisen (Documentary Now). Actress, and one half of the comedy folk duo “Garfunkel and Oates,” Riki Lindhome, acts the part of therapist, Dr. Valerie Kinbott. Jericho, Vermont’s disgruntled Sheriff Galpin (James McShane), oversees the town where Nevermore is located. He is under pressure from Jericho’s Mayor Walker (Tommie Earl Jenkins), to solve a series of murders that have recently taken place. Lastly, there is Wednesday’s omnipresent sidekick, the disembodied hand named Thing (Victor Dorobantu).
If her parents thought a change of scenery would alter Wednesday’s demeanor, it didn’t. No sooner does she arrive, that she begins to disrupt the relative peace and harmony of the students at Nevermore. Even those who try and welcome her, like her upbeat and outgoing roommate, the yet to transform werewolf, Enid (Emma Sinclair). She finds Wednesday too off putting to attempt to socialize with. Over time, however, Wednesday will have a change of heart about Enid. She will wind up becoming one of the most important friends Wednesday makes at Nevermore. Additionally, Wednesday will encounter other allies, like Nevermore’s resident apiarist Eugene (Moosa Mostafa).
It doesn’t take long for Wednesday to forget about attempting to run away from Nevermore. There is a mystery that she wants to solve. People are being murdered. Wednesday, like the fictional character she’s writing about in the novel she is working on, is under the belief that she has the necessary wherewithal to catch the murderer. Wednesday is especially intrigued, when she learns that the current mystery could involve the actions of her parents, when they attended Nevermore. Are her parents somehow connected to what is taking place? Can Wednesday solve the mystery? Those questions and more will be answered by the conclusion of the first season.
Trivia buffs take note: Christina Ricci was not initially cast in the show. BAFTA nominee Thora Birch (American Beauty), was originally cast as Marilyn Thornhill, but had to drop out of the production for personal reasons. The name of the Hall that Wednesday lives in at Nevermore Academy is Ophelia. Morticia’s sister on the original “Addams Family” television series was also named Ophelia. In the Charles Addams comics, the name of the family babysitter was Miss Weems. The entrance code for the “Nightshades Society” is two snaps. The two snaps were used in the “Addams Family” theme song in the original television series, composed and sung by Vic Mizzy. The theme music was also used in the movies that followed. The song Wednesday dances to in episode four, during a school dance, that has become a viral sensation, is called “Goo Goo Muck,” it is a 1981 single by “The Cramps.”
The series was created by Alfred Gough (Smallville) and Miles Millar (Spider-Man 2). The series premiered in Italy, on October 31, 2022 at Lucca Comics & Games. Netflix released the first season of Wednesday for worldwide streaming on November 23, 2022. Emmy winner and two time Oscar nominee, Tim Burton (Beetlejuice), directed the first four episodes of season one. James Marshall (Into the Badlands), and Gandja Monteiro (Brand New Cherry Flavor), directed two episodes each. Parts comedy, crime, fantasy, and mystery, each of the first season’s eight episodes, is approximately 45 minutes in length. (As an aside: Lucca Comics & Games is an annual comic book and gaming convention and is the largest comic festival in Europe. The festival has been held in Lucca Italy, since 1965).
Jenna Ortega is excellent as Wednesday. She completely embodies the part. For the role, she learned how to play the cello, but she also took lessons in archery, boxing, canoeing, fencing, and German, in order to prepare to play Wednesday. The cast as a whole does very well in their respective roles. It is the sort of series, that can be enjoyed by teenage and older viewers alike. Filled with interesting characters, and a plot line that involves a mystery that should keep many viewers guessing as to the who and why, “Wednesday” is a worthy entry into the “Addams Family” franchise. As of the writing of this post, on January 6, 2023, Netflix officially renewed the show for a second season.