How ‘Wednesday’ Fits Into Addams Family Traditions and Themes


In 1993 Addams Family ValuesWednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) has been sent to summer camp, and she is not happy about it. To make matters worse, the camp counselors have written a Thanksgiving-themed play that they force her to take part in, as Pocahontas. Wednesday’s nemesis, obnoxious chipper Amanda Buckman (Mercedes McNab), stars as “beautiful and kind pilgrim” Sarah Miller, who invited the tribe of Pocahontas to the supposedly first Thanksgiving. At the last second, Wednesday breaks the script.

“Wait,” she said impassively. “We cannot break bread with you.”

“You have taken the land that is rightfully ours,” she continues. “Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will be wearing cardigans and drinking highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the roadside. You will play golf and enjoy hot appetizers. My people will experience pain and degradation. Your people will have shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said, ‘Don’t trust the Pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller.’ »

With that, she declares that she will scalp the pilgrims and destroy their village. All hell breaks loose as Pocahontas’ misfit tribesmen go on a rampage, setting the Pilgrim Village on fire.

This iconic scene, etched in cultural memory (at least for millennia) though its stereotypes have aged poorly, embodies Wednesday Addams’ acerbic sense of justice. And it inspired Miles Milar and Al Gough, the showrunners behind WednesdayNetflix’s horror-comedy series starring Jenna Ortega premieres Nov. 23. The show is the latest release from a family that first appeared in New Yorker cartoons in 1938, followed by the beloved 60s TV series and 90s adaptations starring Ricci, Anjelica Huston, Raúl Julia and Christopher Lloyd.

“People have known her since then. So how do we extrapolate that?” says Milar, who along with Gough answered this question with a premise that implicated colonial Americans as oppressors. “It was very easy to put her in a pilgrim idea. It was very organic for the Addams family.

The roots of the Addams family

Regardless of the period in which they are depicted, members of the Addams Family have always been considered outsiders. To their neighbors, they’re scary and they’re crazy, they look funny, they dress weird, they eat weird food: they’re perfect allegory for immigrant families.

Milar and Gough finally decided to make this explicit after years of involvement. On the Netflix show, Wednesday’s new psychic visions introduce us to one of Gomez’s Mexican ancestors, Goody Addams, who started a secret society to “protect outcasts from evil and bigotry.”

When Wednesday was in development, the idea of ​​“pariahs” versus “normés” came even before that of criticizing colonialism. The concept of celebrating those who are rejected by society comes directly from the cartoons of Charles Addams. “In one form or another, the Addams have always been troublemakers in a normal world,” says Gough. “Charles Addams’ cartoons were a reaction to 1950s America: the white picket fence and the house. It’s a bit subversive, but it also highlights that it’s kind of bullshit too.

In Wednesday, says Milar, “It’s an allegory of racism and prejudice and all those things that we face now. And I think that’s what’s interesting about genre shows: that you can, not in a smash way, but in a buried way, talk about real issues that affect the modern world. »

Butler Lurch (George Burcea), Gomez (Luis Guzmán), Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Pugsley (Issac Ordonez) visit the Nevermore Academy for Parents’ Weekend.

Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix

Outcasts and Immigrants

One of the problems that Wednesday addresses – which goes well with his critique of colonialism – is the identity of immigrants. In the 1991 movie The Addams Family and its 1993 sequel Addams Family Values, Puerto Rican actor Raúl Julia played Gomez Addams, Wednesday’s father. Since, some have seen the Addams Family as canonically Latino – a view affirmed by Wednesday casting Puerto Rican actor Luis Guzmán as Gomez and Mexican and Puerto Rican actor Jenna Ortega as Wednesday.

“Wednesday is technically a Latina character, and that was never portrayed,” ortega said in a behind-the-scenes video. “Whenever I have the opportunity to represent my community, I want it to show.”

Milar says that although they considered many actors for the lead role, they still hoped to cast a Latino actor. “That has always been our goal. We wanted to make sure we didn’t leave any stone unturned. And obviously Jenna was Latina, but she was also by far the best actress for the role.

In the first episode of Wednesdaya gloomy interpretation of La Llorona plays on the gramophone in Wednesday’s dorm as she slaps on her typewriter. When the Addams come to visit for parents’ weekend, Wednesday’s younger brother, Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez), sucks on a tamarind candy. “It’s not hammered on the head, but there are times,” Milar says. “The choices of music she plays and food. It’s subtly explained that she’s also American; she is the daughter of immigrants. Because Gomez grew up in Mexico.

Pugsley Addams (Issac Ordonez) sucks on a tamarind candy on Parents' Weekend. (Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix)

Pugsley Addams (Issac Ordonez) sucks on a tamarind candy on Parents’ Weekend.

Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix

An Addams Family Thanksgiving

The show’s release date set for late November rather than October may have surprised some, given the goth family’s long-standing association with Halloween. But the Addams Family also has a strong connection to anti-colonialism and Thanksgiving, at least since the 1993 film.

WednesdayThe Pilgrim story goes back in time to a fictional settler named Joseph Crackstone who founded Jericho, the Vermont town where much of the show is set, in the early 1600s. Jericho sits next to Nevermore Academy, the School Wednesday attends alongside werewolves and vampires. And Pilgrim World, a modern living history museum that features daily witch trials, describes Crackstone, as does Sarah Miller, as “beloved and pious.”

On Awareness Day – intended to improve relations between the “outcasts” of Nevermore and the “norms” of Jericho, Wednesday is forced to volunteer with her classmates to serve free fudge samples at Pilgrim World.

Bianca Barclay (Joy Sunday), a mermaid student at Nevermore, gives away free fudge samples at Pilgrim World as part of Outreach Day. (Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix)

Bianca Barclay (Joy Sunday), a mermaid student at Nevermore, gives away free fudge samples at Pilgrim World as part of Outreach Day.

Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix

“Enjoy your ‘authentic’ pilgrim fudge made with cocoa beans purchased by the oppressed indigenous peoples of the Amazon,” she tells a tour group in fluent German. “All proceeds go to support this pathetic whitewashing of American history. Also, fudge wasn’t invented for 258 years. Any takers?”

“Our first idea was that Thanksgiving was a time when pilgrims invited outcasts and then murdered them,” says Gough. “It felt like a very Addams family approach, so it’s something that was very much in the DNA – and obviously plays through the whole mystery of the show.

Joseph Crackstone, as Wednesday soon discovers, has sworn to persecute all outcasts. In true fire-and-brimstone style, he rounded up the colony’s downtrodden — from those accused of witchcraft to immigrants, including an Addams Family ancestor — chained them to a barn floor and put everything on fire. Today, Wednesday retaliates by burning down a new Crackstone Memorial Statue – freshly dedicated on Awareness Day – in the Town Square.

Wednesday releases Eugene (Moosa Mostafa) from the stocks of Pilgrim World, where he has been trapped by bullies. (Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix)

Wednesday releases Eugene (Moosa Mostafa) from the stocks of Pilgrim World, where he has been trapped by bullies.

Vlad Ciopléa—Netflix

Gough grew up in southern Maryland, where there was an early settlement, much like Pilgrim World. He visited Colonial Williamsburg as a child. Tim Burton, who co-created and co-directed the series, traveled to similar attractions in Massachusetts and New England when researching the 1999s. sleepy hollow.

“It was something that was always fascinating to watch, but once you learn the real story, you realize, ‘Oh, OK, it’s told from a certain point of view,'” Gough says. “We wanted to disrupt that view and make Wednesday a key point.”

TV shows about dysfunctional families abound: Succession, Arrested Development, Yellowstone, Game of Thrones, Empire. Few fictional families, however, are functional – let alone love each other fiercely for their differences.

Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) share a moment in the family car. (Courtesy of Netflix)

Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) share a moment in the family car.

Courtesy of Netflix

“Especially when you go on vacation — when people have to get together and it’s always so stressful — there are divisions for whatever reason,” says Gough. “I think people ultimately wish, ‘Oh, I wish we could go to Thanksgiving and everyone would get along and celebrate our differences and be empathetic to them.'”

Enter: The Addams Family. Created as the ultimate strangers, Wednesday, his brother Pugsley and their parents Morticia and Gomez are, in fact, timeless and ambitious in their closeness.

“We wanted to look at that part of the Addams family,” Gough says of immigrant identity. “A lot of people had assumed that, but it hadn’t really been explored. And the beauty of an eight-hour show is that you can explore.

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