Released Nov. 23, Wednesday, Netflix’s new spin-off of The Addams Family shattered the streaming platform’s records with 341.2 million hours watched within its release-week debut–taking the title from Netflix’s other hit series, Stranger Things, by a landslide. And these numbers do not seem to end here.
The coming-of-age murder mystery story delves into the backstory of the Addams Family, tracing its roots all the way back to Goody Addams, Wednesday’s indigenous ancestor from America’s era of colonialism. The series reveals the fittingly dark history of the Addams family, but not in the way most might believe.
Wednesday draws on twisted generational and familial issues while commentating on the brutality and racism that plagued early American colonialism while staying true to its original, quirky storyline.
For starters, the Goody Adams’ character confirms the Hispanic roots to the Addam’s–and with the predominantly Hispanic cast, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega), Gomez (Luis Guzmán), and Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez), the previously racially ambiguous family now transitions a twentieth-century classic franchise that began on the newspaper during a time where newspapers were predominantly read by white Americans into a story that encompasses all racial ethnicities that America has always had within it, but has not showcased as much in the early decades of the media and entertainment.
So if the viewings have broken so many records, why is it that so many are still reluctant to watch the rebranded Addams Family when Wednesday identifies itself with the generation Netflix has to thank for its astounding viewing hours?
Another significant aspect of the series that old, dedicated fans have dwelled on is how the modern take on Wednesday Addams does not stay in line with the character Charles Addams, the cartoonist who invented the Addams family, intended Wednesday to be. While Netflix’s adaptation maintains Wednesday as frightening, disturbingly dark, unwittingly strange and a stark outcast, her tendency to not care what others think of her wins the approval of even the most judgemental characters on Nevermore’s campus.
Given the show’s success, straying away from her original character does not seem to matter to the viewers Netflix has to thank for breaking the show’s own record during its second week. If anything, the spin-off revamps the original and makes it that much better.
In order to make the show a hit, Wednesday’s self-assuredness had to attract her peers so that viewers would like her too, to the point where it has a chain reaction of sparking fans’ interest in the original The Addams Family film, television series, and comics from the 50s and 60s. In fact, since Wednesday’s release, “The Addams Family” has peaked in its popularity as a google search, likely due to curiosity younger fans like myself have developed about the overall story. Because Netflix’s Wednesday appeals to a younger audience that fits between the ages 13-17, older generations are upset by the fact that the series entirely takes away the Addams family’s persona of its early American, aristocratic feel from Wednesday being gifted a phone by the end of the series to the students attending a modern winter-formal like dance.
If anything, casting Jenna Ortega was the best decision Netflix made to make the series so appealingly modern. With Ortega’s familiarity originating from her starring role on both Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle and Disney Junior’s Elena of Avalor, the Addams family is now something younger generations can hold dear to them in the same way generation X did when the Addams Family film series aired 40 years ago.
Jenna Ortega’s incredible performance alone on Wednesday is enough to officiate her transition into becoming one of the mainstay actresses for the rest of the twenty-first century. Starring in the series undoubtedly sets Ortega apart from any earlier roles she was known for that distinguished her as a child actress.
With Ortega’s small figure that sustains the little, but evil/intimidating characteristic of the original Wednesday Addams and the darkness Ortega says came to her naturally while playing Wednesday, Ortega was undeniably the perfect actress for the role.
By the looks of the success we have seen of the show thus far, we will definitely be seeing more of the Netflix series and its incredible cast for years to come.