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Netflix’s Wednesday blends nostalgia with Gen Z appeal

Typically, when a streaming service announces the reboot of a classic series or film, the news is met with groans and complaints.

Not another one, surely? Why can’t writers come up with something new?

One series reboot released over the last week has caused a stir on the internet – but this time, it’s not for doing a disservice for the franchise in which it follows. This time, it’s mostly positive feedback.

Fans of The Addams Family have been eating up Wednesday – the new Netflix series which takes a look at the beloved character solving a monster mystery at her high school.

But it’s not only fans of the franchise that have been tuning in.

The series has piqued the interest of Tim Burton fans, with the Edward Scissorhands director at the helm of the new project.

Plus, the series stars new it-girl Jenna Ortega, already known for her roles in thriller projects You and X.

With all these elements combined, Wednesday is a masterclass on how to satisfy the nostalgia of existing fans, and pull in a whole new legion of Gen-Z followers.

And while official viewer numbers for its first week of streaming are yet to be released, early numbers show that it could be one of Netflix’s strongest series launches in years.

Breath of fresh air

As for why so many viewers are gravitating towards Wednesday, there’s a delicious cocktail of reasons.

Wednesday brought in just enough new elements to revive the concept, but kept the perfect amount of older elements to stay true to what fans know and love.

This is perhaps best exemplified by Wednesday’s iconic hairdo.

The character has been known for her long, dark braids since actor Lisa Loring played the character in the original 1960s sitcom.

Since Wednesday last appeared in a live-action project in 1998, the creative minds behind the series thought she was well overdue for a makeover. At least to bring the character into the 21st century.

In an interview with Teen Vogue, Ortega discussed the importance of shaking up her character’s look.

“In creating a new Wednesday with Tim Burton, I know that he wanted to establish a different look. It was really important to him that there was something different with the hair,” Ortega said.

“Because, you know, her iconic braids, but he wanted there to be a clear distinction that this was a different girl.”

Wednesday

Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday (right) has been given a fresh new hairdo. Photo: IMDB/Netflix

That one scene

Not only does Ortega have the hairstyle to match, but her sharp cheekbones, wide-eye glare and deadpan delivery make her the spitting image of Christina Ricci’s Wednesday Addams.

So much so that Ortega says she was constantly compared to the character when she was growing up.

Now that she is actually Wednesday, fans have been fawning over one particular scene in the series ever since it dropped.

In said scene, Wednesday takes to the dance floor at her school’s prom and steals the show with her bizarre choreography.

Maintaining a dead-eyed glare at her dancing partner, Wednesday circles around the dance floor in a Frankenstein-like fashion to the tune of the Cramps’ Goo Goo Muck.

This one scene alone, fans argue, is award-worthy in itself, with many already calling her portrayal “iconic”.

But despite fans’ obsession with the scene, Ortega admitted it was almost entirely improvised – and she actually requested to reshoot it.

“I realised two nights before [that] I’ve really got to throw something together,” she told NME.

“It’s crazy because on the day actually, it was my first day with COVID, so it was awful to film. I asked to redo it but we didn’t have time.”

For new Addams Family fans, the dance scene might have seemed left-of-field.

But for longtime fans, they know that it wouldn’t truly be an Addams Family project without a kooky dance scene.

It’s a tradition founded in the 1960s sitcom, when Carolyn Jones’ Morticia taught moves to Lurch (Ted Cassidy), while Gomez (John Astin) taught him the tango.

And it wasn’t only the adults getting down. Wednesday also taught Lurch how to do ‘The Drew’ – a moment eagle-eyed fans think Ortega specifically referenced in her own routine.

The tradition was repeated once more in 1993 with Addams Family Values, when Anjelica Huston’s Morticia and Raul Julia’s Gomez danced a death-defying tango.

 

Perfect timing

Not only has the Addams Family franchise perfected the art of callbacks and cultural zeitgest, but its release couldn’t have had better timing.

The ghoulish series landed last Wednesday, of course, hot on the heels of Halloween.

And with Tim Burton best known for his macabre projects, Wednesday is perfect viewing for the spooky season.

Plus, the series arrived just in time for the Thanksgiving weekend, known just as much for its post-feed binge-watching as it is for its turkey and pumpkin pie.

Ortega encouraged the binge-watching on her Twitter.

“I hope the show is an easy, entertaining watch if you’re up for it. Enjoy the holiday,” she wrote.

“If you do watch, argue with people about it. You all are going to be arguing tomorrow anyway.”

Ortega followed up with another tweet, along with a behind-the-scenes shot from the show.

“Eat your turkey and maybe watch the show. Please don’t let this outfit be for nothing.”

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