We were waiting for it, this new series adapted from the universe of The Addams Family, the first to center on the girl of the tribe, Wednesday. Who better to represent the torments of adolescence than a child against the norm? Mercredi was “emo” before it was cool, she’s a “freak” who feasts on her marginality, likes to read Dante or Machiavelli and always has a bloody project in the back of her mind.
We really hoped to find that Wednesday, embodied this time by Jenna Ortega: any of its many iterations on the big or the small screen, in animation or not. The disappointment was only greater when discovering the version that Netflix has just put online, this November 22.
The most “weirdo” kid in pop culture is unfortunately reduced to an unsympathetic and mono-expressive teenager immersed in a universe that borrows more from Riverdale Where Chilling Adventures of Sabrina only to Barry Sonnenfeld and his gothic-fantasy universe. The series is also sorely lacking in humor and, despite a few morbid references here and there, at no point manages to make us love the weirdness of Wednesday.
Immersed in a Nevermore Academy that is too eyeing Hogwarts, she struggles to exist: among her fellow werewolves, mermaids and other creatures, our teenager loses all his uniqueness. The woman who, in films, loved the grandeur of a theatrical killing and exulted at the idea of digging up the dead, has lost her luster here.
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Her only spark of cruelty and creativity in the series is offered to us, and it is very regrettable, from the first minutes of the very first episode – a scene visible in the trailer – where she releases a swarm of piranhas in the swimming pool. where water polo players practice, a subtle grin of masochistic satisfaction at the corner of his mouth. Wednesday is not a schoolyard bully, she is a psychopath who likes to inflict (or inflict on herself) the worst tortures.
His favorite victim and accomplice in his worst misdeeds being his little brother Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez), here totally absent and transformed into a sad and terrified little boy. His parents, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) stay at a safe distance. Uncle Fetid (Fred Armisen), meanwhile, makes a brief stint in the series and brings a touch of fun and eccentricity that was sorely lacking in Wednesday until there.
This is, alas, not enough to make us love the adventures of young Addams.
A tribute to the classics diluted in the teen drama
If we forget for a second this little stroke of the penknife in the portrait of this iconic character, we also understand that the series does not have much to offer either. The emotional scenes, when they are present, remain quite forced and expected. So yes, Wednesday still gives us a few bones to gnaw on, just to stave off boredom.
We are on a classic case of “whodunnit” (literally “who did it?”), that is to say an investigation to be resolved as a common thread. In this case, several puzzles are intertwined here, and each of them, after several false leads, finds its conclusion as it goes. And then there are those that we see arriving three episodes before our heroine. That’s very embarrassing for a series that spends a lot of energy trying to make us believe in Wednesday’s exceptional intelligence. It’s as if we found the culprit of a murder before Sherlock Holmes, yet having had access to the same clues as him.
Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, the showrunners and creators of the series (Smallville, Into the Badlands, The Shannara Chronicles) leave us with the feeling of having flown over the universe of Barry Sonnenfeld’s films or that of the 1964 series, to wash out and wring out everything that made it poetic, strange and biting. The worst outrage to the two feature films being, all the same, the fate reserved for the original Wednesday, Christina Ricci, whose character as a botany teacher brings neither surprise nor excitement. Such a waste.
The result is bland and has lost all originality, mimicking the recipes (alas proven) and the “black pop” aesthetic (we will drop this term) of many other Netflix series in which extraordinary teenagers are the heroes and heroines . Wednesday is a teen drama with mysteries and a touch of romance, no more, no less. The homage to the work of cartoonist Charles Addams, if it was ever there, is completely watered down.
We are also still looking for the touch of Tim Burton, the absolute master of Gothic fantasy, yet well listed in the credits as executive producer and who directed the first four episodes. The series is not a failure in itself, some will surely find their account. But we are entitled to be saddened by the total lack of inspiration in a series whose incredible heroine already contained within her, between her two little braids, so many stories, full of mischief and darkness.
The eight episodes of season 1 of Wednesday are available on Netflix.