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An Ode To Wednesday’s Iconic Dance Scene

Eat your heart out, Mia Wallace

This Thanksgiving weekend, turkey and stuffing weren’t the only things audiences were devouring: Netflix’s Wednesday, which (appropriately) dropped the entirety of its eight-episode season last Wednesday (November 23). Now that fans have had time to sink their teeth into the series and savor Wednesday in all her noir-sleuthing glory, Jenna Ortega’s goth has the internet in a death grip with a particularly memorable moment: her ‘goo goo muck’ dance scene in episode four.

Now, it’s no secret that Jenna Ortega’s performance as the titular Wednesday Addams is the show’s biggest selling point and its strongest critical feature—fans and journalists alike have praised Ortega’s committed and hypnotizing performance. Her turn as Wednesday is a character based significantly around her deadpan delivery and impassive expressions—so, of course, it comes as shock (and makes for the ultimate stand-out moment) when the icy and disinterested Wednesday takes to the dance floor at her prep school Evermore’s “Rave’N Dance” to perform what can only be described as a one-woman performance to The Cramps’ 1981 classic “Go-Go Muck“.

Though Wednesday’s exuberant and attention-grabbing performance is initially remarkable for the sheer charisma coming from a usually stoic character, dancing is by no means a new hobby of the Addams Family—as fans of the original 1964 series will know, Wednesday Addams has been seen dancing on the show before. Most famously, she taught butler lurch to dance ‘the drew’ in a season two episode “Lurch’s Grand Romance”.

Her stiff, jilting swing dancing is just one of the many moves replicated in Ortega’s 2022 rendition of a Wednesday Addams dance sequence, which according to behind-the-scenes information, was choreographed by Ortega herself.

Ortega’s choreography doesn’t just pay homage to Wednesday’s previous moves – elements of Morticia and Gomez’s Latin tango from the 1993 film version are also incorporated. The references don’t stop there, either—as Ortega jerks and contorts through stiff, carefree yet focused movements, many of her moves are lifted from meticulously researched goth and counterculture dance scenes. Ortega told Vulture in an interview earlier this month: “I just pulled inspiration from videos of goth kids dancing in clubs in the ’80s… Lene Lovich music videos, Siouxsie and the Banshees performances, and Fosse.”

While her attention to detail and deliberate thoughtfulness towards choreography may be worthy of merit and discussion on its own, that’s to speak nothing of the incredible performance that Ortega gives executing her moves on camera—the charisma and sheer coolness I haven’t seen in a long time. There’s a mesmerizing nature to Wednesday’s prom dance and she twirls and fluffs the skirts of her black tulle gown—a dress picked out earlier in the episode and leading to a borderline Cinderella-esque moment when entering the ball.

As she twirls the night away in her own bizarre fashion, the camera swirls around a dance floor swathed in blue light—lighting design courtesy of Mark Scruton and director Tim Burton. The intense color grading and the liveliness of the camera only adds to the vibrant, peacocking feel of the number—it’s so eccentric it borders on a strange mating dance that you can’t quite look away from.

There’s been much online debate—and replication: TikTok has already started up a trend of doing the dance themselves and posting about it, and sparking discussion as to whether or not Wednesday’s dance is ‘awkward’. On the one hand, the gut reaction is to say yes—as mesmerizing and beautiful as it is, there’s stilted, jerkiness to her movements and a stiffness to her face that lands just on the side of slightly uncomfortable. But in truth, any ‘awkwardness’ of the dance itself only goes to show Ortega’s understanding of the character and the intentions of the scene.

Narratively, this isn’t any particular moment of triumph for Wednesday—she hasn’t finally learned to loosen up and dance, it’s more of an unexpected revelation of something she feels comfortable doing in public. As such, the show isn’t treating the dance scene like a ‘who’s that girl’ moment, though she does catch plenty of eyes on the dance floor. Instead, this is simply Wednesday being herself: expressing her family’s passion for dance and demonstrating her unapologetic dedication to being herself in all things and at all times.

While the show itself may certainly have its narrative and critical flaws, Jenna Ortega’s performance as Wednesday is one for the ages, and her goth Cramps Goo-Goo Muck dancing is the epitome of the cool, strange, utterly unique being that is Wednesday Adams.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Lauren Coates is a film and Chicago-based student with a weakness for junk food, a passion for film & television, and a constant yearning to be at Disney World. You can find her on Twitter @laurenjcoates and read more of her work on Culturess.