Jenna Ortega, the rising star of the moment, just became the youngest Latina to get an Emmy nomination in an acting category for Wednesday. She is not just the protagonist in one of Netflix’s most popular shows but will be donning the hat of the producer in season two.
Ortega has revealed that horror will take more of a centre stage in the coming-of-age comedy’s second instalment. It is a definite win for all those who have grown up adoring the macabre sensibilities of Wednesday Addams and her family in all their iconoclastic goth glory.
As a young woman, who is willing to get almost “unprofessional” on set to fully exert her ownership, Ortega is a bit of a rarity in Hollywood, in showbiz entirely, an industry that demands its women and minorities be nothing more than grateful for the opportunities deemed upon them. It is perhaps a good thing that season two of Wednesday will be more of a collaborative effort between Ortega, creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and executive producer-director Tim Burton.
Time will tell how well all this talk will translate on-screen, but it is definitely better news that season two will lean more into horror elements and steer away from all the teeny-bopper romance we got in season one.
Horror over love triangles!
At its core, The Addams Family has always been deeply subversive. And love triangles became a tired, hackneyed trope in YA fiction in 2008. It peaked in Twilight, and Suzanne Collins should never have been talked into pouring more focus into the Gale-Katniss-Peeta triangle in The Hunger Games trilogy simply because of Stephenie Meyer’s success with it.
But here we are in 2023, still dealing with love triangles in teen fiction, ignoring all the other wealth of possibilities. This particular trope is popular among a certain section of the audience; there’s no denying that. But the Addams family’s legacy transcends generations, and that needs to be honoured.
Fans of The Addams Family saga were just as surprised with Wednesday’s love triangle situation as Ortega. Speaking with Elle Fanning for Variety, Ortega mentioned ditching the triangles entirely, explaining, “It’s still coming together, but we’ve decided we want to lean into the horror more. We’re ditching any romantic love interest, which is really great. We’re going to get bolder, more dark”.
This could also be a decision made public by the creators of Wednesday in order to sidestep having to comment on Percy Hynes White’s ongoing sexual assault rumours. Nonetheless, we are here for it.
Ortega’s role as an official producer on the show will only legitimise her voice further. She will be able to take charge from the front instead of going through the back-and-forth that made season one suffer, “I tried to have as many conversations as possible with the writers. We’d decide what works and what doesn’t. In preparation for a second season, we wanted to make sure that we could start the conversations earlier.”
The Addams Family has always had a sort of levity about it tonally, and even that was missing in the series. Perhaps that could be rectified in season two as well.
Other improvements we hope for in Wednesday season two:
Ortega may just be 20, but her perspective has already made her version of the iconic Wednesday character a standout in a series that has indeed been plagued with a lot of uninspired writing.
One wishes there was someone to step in and stop when Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) accused Mayor Walker (Tommie Earl Jenkins) by saying that “men like” him “have no idea what it feels like not to be believed”. Intersectional feminism and critical race theory flew out the window with this sweeping statement. It could have been a feminist ‘gotcha moment’, as intended if the actors did not play the characters that they were—with Zeta-Jones being a white actor of Welsh and Irish descent and Jenkins a black American.
Along with more nuanced writing regarding identity politics, one can only hope for some of the more classic elements to be back into this rendition of the Addams lore. The Addams family is supposed to be the very antithesis of the dysfunctional American family. So, season two should drop the contentious mother-daughter drama and invest more time to infuse some life into Gomez and Morticia’s bond.
Of course, they are unlikely to replace the magic woven by Raul Julia and Angelica Huston, who portrayed the iconic gothic romantic duo in the 90s. But we hope that, pushed by Ortega, the injection of more Tim Burton-esque morbid absurdity and moodiness will elevate the show’s overall quality in season two.