Meet Wednesday Addams, the Wide-Eyed Teen Everyone Loves Right Now
Wednesday Addams has experienced an unprecedented surge in popularity recently thanks to the debut of Netflix’s Wednesday. From the brilliant gothic mind of Tim Burton comes a new Addams Family adaption that focuses on Wednesday (Jenna Ortega). The TV series broke the record for the most-watched series on Netflix in one week and also proved that Wednesday is the perfect Addams family character to get their own series. She goes against the mold of what women are expected to be with her taste for the macabre, abhorrence of emotion, and streak of independence. Wednesday is a true gothic heroine for the ages.
However, Wednesday has been around since long before Ortega masterfully portrayed her. Wednesday has a long history onscreen, as well as offscreen. She and her macabre family have been around for about 84 years. All of the Addamses have become household names in America. While they initially started as cartoons in which Charles Addams channeled his own dark humor and love of the bizarre, over the years, they became something more.
The Addams family has always been depicted as different. They have strange habits, a fascination with morbidity, and they look a bit odd. However, in nearly every depiction, they are largely harmless. There is humor and playfulness to even their most sadistic tendencies. In addition to this, they are ultimately a very loving, close-knit family. I mean, who doesn’t want a relationship like Morticia and Gomez? What the Addams family does best is prove that difference is nothing to fear. Here’s who Wednesday Addams is and how she fits into the Addams family legacy.
Who is Wednesday Addams?
Wednesday Addams is a character created by the cartoonist Charles Addams. When she was first invented, she had no name, nor did any of the Addamses. Addams depicted them as nameless characters in The New Yorker beginning in the 1930s. Among these nameless folks was the morbid family’s only daughter. Addams had intended for her to be about 13 years old and depicted her as having six toes on one foot. Meanwhile, he described her as: “A solemn child, prim in dress and, on the whole, pretty lost.”
When plans began to adapt Addams’s comics into the 1964 show The Addams Family, he was tasked with finding names for all of his characters. It was ultimately the poet and actress Joan Blake who coined Wednesday’s name. The name comes from a nursery rhyme, “Monday’s Child,” which predicts a child’s disposition based on their day of birth. Hence, the pale-faced, solemn child of Addams’ creation was named Wednesday because “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” Addams laid the foundation for Wednesday as a sad, pale child with six toes, but it was the actresses over the years who truly defined Wednesday.
Wednesday Addams, explained
While Addams created Wednesday, the character has evolved drastically over the years, being molded and defined by the seven different actresses who voiced or portrayed Wednesday in the numerous Addams Family adaptions. Lisa Loring was the first actress to portray Wednesday and, though young and innocent, was one of the first nab the melancholy that was quite abnormal for such a young girl. Meanwhile, Debi Derryberry gave Wednesday her “old soul” and Nicole Fugere gave her frightening, severe characteristics.
However, it was Christina Ricci that made Wednesday a goth icon. She delved into Wednesday’s brilliance, deadpan tone, sense of justice, and loyalty to her family while still making her fundamentally morbid and unemotive. Drawing from this interpretation, Chloë Grace Moretz, who lent her voice to 2019’s animated The Addams Family and its sequel, also delved into Wednesday’s genius while making her older and more questioning of her family’s values. Meanwhile, Ortega, the most recent incarnation of Wednesday, made her a fully complex, layered individual taking elements of each of the prior interpretations of the character while adding her own elements such as family estrangement, rebellion, and hints of emotion.
Ultimately, there isn’t just one definition of Wednesday. She was created with the flexible premise of a young, rather unusual girl basked in sorrow and solemnity. However, as the years went on, she was given a name, a personality, a history, and numerous interpretations, all of which have become a part of who Wednesday is.
(featured image: Netflix)
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