After being expelled from various schools for a series of macabre pranks, Wednesday is given one last chance at Nevermore, the boarding school her parents Morticia and Gomez attended. Forced into her mother's shadow in particular, Wednesday is reluctant to fall in line. But as the bodies start piling up, Wednesday grows more and more involved with the strange developments at Nevermore.
I could tell those involved in the production of the show cared about what they were making, which is something I feel is sadly in short supply with many Netflix productions. Particularly in the character driven earlier episodes, where shot framing and colouring is gorgeous. Reminiscent of the live action Cat in the Hat film at times, Wednesday is full of stills that are great to look at, and a lot of gif-able moments to boot. Jenna Ortega's portrayal of Wednesday and Gwendoline Christie's performance as Principal Larissa Weems are standouts in the show for me, and their constant back and forth is a delight on screen.
My initial worries that the eponymous character would crumble outside the context of The Addams Family were thankfully wrong. By shifting the focus onto Wednesday, the show has a very different tone to The Addams Family, but it works. The show is at its best - in my opinion - in episode five. Coming off a standout performance from Ortega at the Rave'N ball in episode four, this episode allows Wednesday to reconnect with her family, and showcases some of the character development that has been building throughout the series. By bringing family back into the fold, Wednesday takes a brief breath from its main mystery to reaffirm Wednesday's growth and set her on the track for success in the final three episodes that follow.
As with all Netflix shows set in high schools, the show inevitably falls into some overdone and questionable patterns. Students actively commit crimes, undermine authority, and sneak around without consequence, for the most part. Somehow, though, by placing these flaws into a universe where characters such as Thing and Uncle Fester exist, they're significantly more believable. My biggest gripe with high school clichés in the show is actually the handling of romantic interests, they feel forced and for the most part flat out unnecessary.
Midway through its run, Wednesday also dips its toes into making some statements about colonialism and historical whitewashing - or at least it tries to. This plot thread is quickly dropped and is all but irrelevant to the overarching 'outcasts vs normies' narrative by the end of the series, sadly without anything of note about this topic really being said.
All in all, while Wednesday might not be the show for everyone, I really do think it's worth a try. I wasn't expecting to like it, full disclosure, but despite its flaws and the trading of grounded shot work for goofy CGI later on in the series, it really is a well told and made tale. I couldn't help being invested in characters such as Enid and Bianca who have their own personal journeys within the show, and the overall story is full of twists and turns, with some creepy and macabre spice sprinkled in.