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Latest ‘Wednesday’ News Proves the Show Lives and Dies With Jenna Ortega

Enough with the TikTok dances, thanks.

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in 'Wednesday'

Despite some wobbly reviews and a now-fired cast member, it’s undeniable that Netflix’s Wednesday was one of the biggest breakout shows of 2022. Not only is it an entertaining murder mystery, but it’s also a star vehicle that cements Jenna Ortega‘s status as a power player in Hollywood. The latest news from the series confirms what we already suspected: that the true magic of Wednesday always came from Ortega.

Ortega made waves this week when clips surfaced from a recent episode of Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, in which she was the guest. For those who want to listen for themselves, the meat of the story begins around the 36-minute mark, where Ortega details how surprised she was at the show’s tone, having assumed a Wednesday Addams TV show would be geared towards older audiences. “When I read the entire series, I realized, ‘Oh, this is for younger audiences,'” Ortega explained. “When I first signed on to the show, I didn’t have all the scripts. I thought it was going to be a lot darker. I didn’t know what the tone was, I didn’t know what the score would sound like, or how it would be cut together.”

Ortega went on to say that she’d grown attached to the character during shooting, and was worried that Wednesday might be unlikable or uninteresting to fans. “I grew very, very protective of her. You can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you,” she said. Ortega’s frustrations seem to specifically hinge on the handling of the character now that she’s been aged-up to a teenager, as opposed to most previous iterations, in which Wednesday was as young as six years old.

Apparently, Ortega worried that having an older version of the character deliver such apathetic lines might alienate viewers instead of endearing them like younger version of the character did. “When you are little and say very morbid, offensive stuff, it’s funny and endearing,” Ortega explained. “But then you become a teenager and it’s nasty and you know it. There’s less of an excuse.”

Here’s where the real bombshell comes in, though: Ortega didn’t just stew in her frustrations with the show’s handling of the character: She voiced them on set, which led to frequent dialogue changes. According to Ortega, “There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional, in a sense, where I just started changing lines. The script supervisor thought I was going with something and then I had to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I would have to go and explain why I couldn’t go do certain things.”

In terms of the specific lines and moments she changed, Ortega’s primary frustrations with the writing seemed to stem from the character’s love triangle (which I’ve previously expressed my own disdain for), as well as Wednesday’s reaction to having to find a dress for the school dance.

“I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down more on a set in a way that I had to on Wednesday,” Ortega said. “Everything that she does, everything I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all. Her being in a love triangle? It made no sense. There was a line about a dress she has to wear for a school dance and she said, ‘Oh my god, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No.’”

Though Ortega may have viewed her behavior as unprofessional, I can’t help but thank my lucky stars she made the changes she did. From the sound of it, all of the changes Ortega insisted upon ended up making Wednesday far truer to the character. Thankfully, Ortega was recently announced to have taken on an executive producer role heading into season 2, which means that she’ll have even more (official) creative control over the direction of the series and Wednesday as a character.

As for what Ortega’s increased creative control will look like for the series, she hinted in an interview with Jimmy Fallon that we’ll see less romance and more bloodshed. “I think we want to up the horror aspect a little bit, and then get Wednesday out of the romantic situation, and just let her be her own individual and fight her own crime,” Ortega said. Though Wednesday season 2 doesn’t have a release date yet, fans eager for more Ortega can catch her in Scream VI, which is in theaters now.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Lauren Coates is a Chicago-based film & television critic and freelance journalist who works as a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. You can find her on Twitter @laurenjcoates and read more of her work on Culturess.