Since its debut on Netflix on November 23rd, Wednesdayoriginal title Wednesdaycontinues to be talked about. For seven weeks in a row, the series topped the charts and broke a variety of records. It is in fact part of a small circle of TV series to have exceeded 5 billion minutes displayed in the first weeks.
The series has all the credentials to be a worldwide phenomenon and the right ingredients to be appreciated by young and old. In fact, there is no shortage of teen drama and the theme ofinclusivenessinevitable elements of the streaming platform, to which are added love affairsa little bit of humour and that touch of crime mystery that never hurts. Ingredients that, overall, have contributed to influencing our way of seeing the world and, why not, death.
Wednesday: worldwide phenomenon that is changing the way we see the world
The historian Addams family has been present in the collective imagination since the 30s of the last century, when Charles Addams draws his iconic cartoons presenting the Addamses as the antagonist of the typical American family. Then this atypical family and macabre, but which arouses a certain sympathy precisely because of its darker and weirder aspects, begins to appear on the small screen in the 60s and on the big screen in the 90s, in the version that most of us probably know best. While remaining somewhat faithful to its forebears, the 21st century version of the Addams Family is an entirely new proposition.
With an outstanding cast, including Catherine-Zeta Jones And Christina Riccireal easter eggs of the series, and a thrilling direction with Tim Burton as writer and director of four of the eight episodes, the series is not centered on the traditional Addams Family. As can be easily understood from the title, in Wednesday the focus is brought on the eldest daughter, who is no longer the child of the previous versions, but is a teenager who therefore experiences all the complications of his age.
Unable to find her place among her peers, high school becomes a real torture for Wednesday, certainly not one she would have appreciated. This is why she changes numerous high schools up to the Nevermore Academy, his parents’ school, meeting place and refuge for the “outcasts” of society, or people marginalized for their eccentricity or their supernatural powers, such as mermaids, Gorgons, werewolves and much more. It is within the walls of the Nevermore that Wednesday comes face to face with the ghosts of family pastbut also with present threatsas the difficult to insert even among the outcasts and especially the monster which continually reaps victims in the town. While writing his mystery novel, Wednesday can’t keep away from danger and, with his faithful ally, But noand with the support of his friends, he will solve the mysteries that threaten the school and beyond.
Between weaves that bring the story ever closer to a teen mystery complete with the supernatural, a Netflix classic, between gothic atmospheres and a macabre sarcasm, Burtonian signature, Wednesday takes us to a different world, that of the outcasts, questioning everything that in contemporary society is labeled as “normality” and greatly influencing our way of seeing things.
To get an idea of the influence of the series, one cannot fail to mention the ballet invented by Ortega and inspired by the steps of little Addams from the 60s, which has become iconic and viral. The few impromptu steps on set brought back a song by Lady Gaga more than ten years ago, while children, adolescents, adults and even celebrities delight in the most varied social networks to imitate the steps of the young and talented actress. The steps made so much noise that they were repeated by the Russian skater Kamila Valieva on the occasion of the 2022 National Championships!
If this is one of the “visible” aspects of the phenomenon Wednesday, it’s undeniable that the series has unconsciously influenced us in other ways as well. Without realizing it, we have arrived at a “normalization” of what was hitherto criticized and feared. In fact, while refusing any type of classification between normal and abnormalthe change of perspective proposed by the directors is indisputable, who deliberately bring the difference between normal And bizarreproposing a conscious division of society between the “Normals” and the “Outcasts”, those from whom the former keep away due to fears and prejudices rooted in society since the Middle Ages. Compared to previous versions, the Addams family members are no longer the only characters out of the box. They are rather just a few among many characters freaks of modern society and this is perhaps the main novelty: if the “weird”, or rather the outcasts, are many and no longer a single family, this means that the Addams family is not so “abnormal”. The macabre, the bizarre, the atypical, even if still marginalized, increasingly take on the appearance of the much idolized normality, questioning the very concept of “normality”, around which the directors and screenwriters play in good taste.
A sort of normalization also concerns one of the recurring themes in all the Addams versions: the relationship with death. “Ever since you abandoned me they have chased me, bewitched me, and tried to kill meenthuses Wednesday with a macabre grin on her face as she tells her parents about her first week at Nervermore. Could you be happier?
Just as when, sneaking into the mortuary, she lies down in a morgue to hide and when Mano gives her the go-ahead, what does she do? “Five more minutes” – she asks, as if she were lying on a sunbed in the Maldives to sunbathe. From these examples and from many other small tricks we understand that for Wednesday death is not something to fear, it doesn’t scare at all, it is rather an aspect of life that intrigues and which is worth knowing more about, as if it were another subject to study. It is also for this reason that in the face of Rowan Wednesday’s death she is so disarmed, but not out of fear, rather because that tragic death in front of her eyes hides too many mysteries that she feels she has to discover and reveal.
In moments like these, the hand of Burton. Death is indeed a topos of the director’s production and himself in an interview regard The Corpse Bride stated the following: “I had a puritanical upbringing that death is a dark and scary thing. But we all have to die, and I have always felt closest to cultures where death is considered a little more as part of life”.
Tim Burton pours a lot of himself and his own personal experience into Wednesday, perhaps reaching high levels of entertainment right in these moments. Like the girl, the registrar has always admitted that he felt like a outcast in the society and context in which he grew up and in which he lives, shy, closed and solitary, like Wednesday and the other characters born of his creative genius. In another interview Burton recounts an episode from his own adolescence that he seems to have recreated in the prom scene: «In 1976 I went to my high school prom. It was the same year it came out Carrie – The Look of Satan at the movies and I felt like a male version of Carrie that night. That feeling of having to be there but not feeling part of what was happening around you … Those feelings do not leave you, as much as you want to. On Wednesday you have my same gaze on the world.’ And Carrie-The Look of Satan must have implanted itself in the director’s memory, so much so that it seems to have paid him homage in the dance scene when the mayor’s son and his friends rain blood on all the kids on the track. In the horror directed by Brian DePalma and inspired by a novel by Stephen King, the outcasts experienced a scene very similar to that of the protagonist of the film, in addition to the reference to the 1991 Addams film in which on Wednesday with his brother Pugsley they pour fake blood on all the spectators during a school play.
Cash references to previous versions, but also many freebies to films and logs of related genres, the logs managed to leave the viewer in suspense until the last second, leaving several questions open: where is Tyler being taken? Who sends those text messages on Wednesday? A stalker worthy of -A’s pretty Little Liars, a friend of his, or a mysterious enemy? While we wait for the second season, Wednesday continues to break records, to climb rankings, but above all to overturn and question the accredited vision of modern society up to this moment.