Weird Girls Welcomed: Netflix’s Wednesday is the Female Representation We Need Right Now
Tim Burton’s new show “Wednesday” hit Netflix on November 23rd, coming in as a gothic feast for the senses and what every “weird girl” has been waiting for. Propped up by heavy-hitters like Tim Burton, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Christina Ricci, the TV show encompasses an adolescent Wednesday Addams as she navigates high school with her tell-tale disdain for her peers and the world around her.
While the show was at times missing a few beats and lacking some of the charm of the original adaptations, (the relationship between Morticia and Wednesday is not as loving and affectionate as we've come to know, for example), the show’s sense of humor is perfectly intact, with cheeky references to the previous versions laden throughout.
The gothic aesthetic, the Latinx representation, and the Romanian atmosphere of where it was shot, all make for a compelling story. Christina Ricci has just proven that she can steal the show no matter who she’s playing in an Addams Family story and Tim Burton got back to what he does best by telling a twisty tale of outcasts and monsters.
Ever since it was announced, I was dying to get a good look at it.
Personally, I’ve always loved Wednesday Addams. She reminds me of myself and there aren’t many female characters that do. I was even told once by someone I’d just met that the person I most reminded him of, at least in terms of facial expressions, was Wednesday Addams. This was fitting because I’d already had a poster of her– the Christina Ricci version– in my dorm room for years, in between my Fleabag poster and Jane Fonda’s mugshot, completing my shrine to sassy, iconic women.
I love the female representation: introverted, anti-social, frank, unconcerned with what others think of her, in possession of a cynical view on society, a low-tolerance for other people’s bullshit, and an unapologetic attitude– all done without smiling.
For much of my life I felt like her. My lack of inhibition, my obsession with Halloween, and, more often than not, my unwillingness to socialize with my peers, all made for an interesting childhood. Growing up meant added cynicism, criticizing the aspects of society that I found the most egregious, and still not interacting with my peers if I could help it. Wednesday Addams was, and still is, my comfort character.
So when Netflix said that they were releasing a TV series solely devoted to her, I may have screamed. Needless to say, I devoured the series in a night to see how they delivered on my beloved Wednesday Addams.
It was all there, from her playfully psychotic flare to her snarky one-liners. Jenna Ortega and Tim Burton captured her just right: a deadpan face, a monotone voice, and a bone-chilling smile that only appears when something horrifying is happening. That’s Wednesday. For Jenna Ortega this was the role that she was born to play. She was the perfect Wednesday Addams, bleak and macabre, but above all else, she was the weird girl for this generation.
This new interaction has Wednesday, now a psychic and a novelist, going to a school for other abnormal children, adding something new to the Addams Family story. Magical children sent to boarding school screams Harry Potter knock-off with shoddy world building, but the show manages to pull it off, making it believable even in the absurd. There, even in a school for outcasts, she still manages to be the weird one.
Likewise, for much of middle school and high school I was seen as a “weird girl” and even when I went off to college to a small liberal arts college known for its eccentricity and emphasis on the arts, I still felt different. I was surrounded by like minded peers for once in my life, which usually offered all of the companionship I needed, but I still found that I was oftentimes uninterested in what other people were interested in. This is encouraging, in perhaps a main-character-syndrome-way, but potentially disconcerting at the same time. I still had people commenting on my high confidence and introverted tendencies, a seemingly oxymoronic combo, but something that makes me relate to Wednesday.
Wednesday manages to be wise beyond her years while still being a teenager brimming with awkwardness. More than one guy is smitten with her. (Ah, yes, the weird girl wish-fulfillment, where you can be that strange and still have men adore you). It offers hope, even when you, like her, would rather avoid men like the plague.
Wednesday Addams has become somewhat of an aspirational figure for many. Her unwillingness to conform to other’s expectations is the attitude that many people, young women especially, wish they had. In a world where everyone wishes they could be themselves and “not care what other people think,” Wednesday has always been the embodiment of that. During a time of “toxic positivity,” she offers the solution for a generation of teenagers who have an overdose of teen-angst, more so than previous generations. All of this made me realize that she doesn’t just represent Gen Z; she is Gen Z, in the same way that Daria brought out the youth attitude of the 90s.
Far from apolitical, Wednesday fights back against injustice and says what we are all thinking.
Her anger towards the world and the establishment strike all the right chords in her new contemporary setting.
Wednesday Addams remains the female icon that we need right now: supremely confident, unapologetic, and wise beyond her years, making her an unusual heroine that women and girls need today.
Dressed in head-to-toe black Wednesday Addams was perhaps never expected to be anything more than a one-off goth character, but has since become a sword-wielding symbol for girls unabashedly speaking their minds, and was just put front and center in her own show. Now, with an updated storyline for our once sidelined anti-hero, weird girls everywhere will be saluting this new and improved goth icon.