3 Ways Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday Nods To The Classic Character And 2 Ways She Improves Her

Wednesday practicing the Cello
(Image credit: Netflix)

The streaming wars have been going full throttle for years now, with various services popping up after Netflix and offering exclusive content. But the OG keeps churning out movies and TV shows, and regularly has megahits. The latest of these is Wednesday, which features work by the one and only Tim Burton. The Addams Family have once again returned to the screen, although this project is particularly focused on the title characters, played by Scream actress Jenna Ortega. Since its debut the show has consistently been trending, often peaking at #1 on Netflix. And folks have been sounding off online about the finale.

Wednesday Addams is obviously a character that's been on the small and silver screen for decades, played by a variety of actors. Jenna Ortega no doubt was feeling the pressure, especially as she co-starred in Wednesday with none other than Christina Ricci herself, who played her in the two movies in the '90s. But in the end Ortega really hit it out of the park. There are three ways Jenna Ortega’s Wednesday nods to the classic character, and two ways she actually improves her. Let's break down the all together ooky ways she pulled it off. 

Wednesday Addams holding two bags of puranas.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Wednesday's Morbid Sense Of Humor

Part of what makes Jenna Ortega's performance in Wednesday so successful is because she makes it her own, while also giving longtime fans of the Addams Family enough nods to the franchise's history. One of the most consistent ways that Ortega's version of the character does this is by her morbid sense of humor. And fans are so obsessed they're dressing like her.

Starting with the original Addams Family cartoons and classic TV show, titular group of characters had always had a love for the macabre. This trend continues with the actors of Wednesday, but especially Jenna Ortega's title character. She consistently hits the audience with gothic one-liners when speaking with various characters like her therapist, classmates, and Gwendoline Christie's Principal Weems. This makes the contemporary show feel very connected to the OG content, and Wednesdays' roots as a character. 

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia in Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Inclusion Of Addams Family Lore And Characters

While Wednesday is very much focused on Jenna Ortega's title character and those residing at Nevermore Academy, the show remains connected with its roots through the inclusion of other members of the Addams Family. For those with a history with the franchise, that might be exactly what helps hook them into this new incarnation of the gothic brood.

One of the biggest scene stealers in Wednesday is Thing, played by actor/illusionist Victor Dorobantu. Thing is Wednesday's personal minion throughout Season 1, and the visual effects used are top notch. Plus it's delightful to see how he non-verbally communicates with various characters. Additionally, Catherine Zeta-Jones guest stars as Morticia, joined by Luis Guzmán as Gomez. Fred Armisen's Uncle Fester is another highlight. Pugsly and even Lurch also appear, although there's one favorite character I'm waiting to see in Season 2: Cousin It. Seeing how Wednesday interacts with each of these iconic characters helps to establish exactly who Jenna Ortega's version is, and keeps her intimately connected with the classic character. 

Jenna Ortega shooting an arrow in Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

Lots Of Addams Family Easter Eggs

Another way that Jenna Ortega's characterization of Wednesday nods to the classic character is through various easter eggs throughout the first eight episodes. One of the most obvious comes in the second episode, when the title character discovers the secret library in Nevermore. But to enter she has to snap twice, offering a not-so-subtle nod to the classic Addams Family TV series from the 1960s, and its beloved theme song. 

But the connections to classic versions of Wednesday Addams don't stop there. In the series Nevermore sits outside a town full of normies called Jericho, which hosts Pilgrim World. This is a clear nod to 1993's The Addams Family Values, which famously included a Thanksgiving Play that Christina Ricci's Wednesdays turns into an all-out revolution. Jenna Ortega's take on the character also excels at archery, which offers a connection to both The Addams Family Values, as well as the Broadway musical The Addams Family. While Wednesday doesn't use a bow and arrow in the stage show, she is instead an expert marksman with her crossbow.

Obviously Wednesday made sure that Jenna Ortega's take on the character featured enough connective tissue to the classic character, but the show is ultimately a fresh take on Addams Family lore. And there are a few instances were Ortega's take actually improved on the beloved character from the comics, screen, and stage.

Jenna Ortega and Emma Myers in Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

The Modern Setting And Latin Representation

Wednesday has a contemporary setting, which helps to make the moments where Jenna Ortega's character is a fish out of water all the more hilarious. Whether it's dealing with fellow students at Nevermore or the Normies in Jericho, Wednesday's set of priorities and interests stand out in delightful ways. This is largely successful because of the deadpan delivery given by Ortega, who seemingly never blinks once during the show's entire first season on Netflix.

Another way that Wednesday's contemporary setting offers a fresh take on The Addams is the way that the family's latin roots are represented. There are a number references to the protagonist's culture throughout the series. For instance, in Episode 6, she mentions the family celebrating Dia de Los Muertos. She's also seen listening to a Mexican folk song in her dorm, while Pugsley eats Flautirriko Tarugos Tamarindo in another episode. Some of these are quite subtle, but will no doubt be noticeable for those seeing themselves reflected onscreen. 

Jenna Ortega in Wednesday.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Making Wednesday A Detective With Superpowers.

Of course, her investigations are aided by another new twist that improves the characters Wednesday Addams: her psychic visions. This ability first shows up in the cold open of the premiere, where Jenna Ortega sees Pugsly's abuse by school bullies after making physical contact with him. This occurred consistently throughout Season 1, helping to offer yet another intriguing new layer to the classic character. comedy keeps the series light and frothy. The title character has plenty of skills in the show, but her prowess as a detective is the cumulation of it all.

Of course, her investigations are aided by another new twist that improves the characters Wednesday Addams: her psychic visions. This ability first shows up in the cold open of the premiere, where Jenna Ortega sees Pugsley's abuse by school bullies after making physical contact with him. These visions occurred consistently throughout Season 1, helping to offer yet another intriguing new layer to the classic character. 

Wednesday was overall a fun ride, and there's a reason that it keeps trending on Netflix in the weeks since its initial release. And Jenna Ortega's characterization is a perfectly modern take on the Addams Family daughter, complete with a great performance and iconic moments like her dance. While we wait for Season 2 on Netflix, be sure to check out the TV premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Wednesday is now streaming on Netflix.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.