Wednesday Addams: A Rebel Against Heteronorms, Until Love Struck – von Jenny McClure

Canonically Wednesday Addams from the Addams Family is a very dark, serious, independent and abnormally strong girl, who prides herself in the different ways to torture her brother Pugsley and her peers. Similarly, Netflix’s Wednesday emphasizes her lack of interest in others, stating on multiple occasions she is just fine on her own and prefers her solitude. The show manages to follow through with her stubborn independence with her roommate Enid. Since episode one Wednesday refuses to conform to social norms by continuously refusing to hug her. Even in the last episode, after the deep and emotional relationship they build together, Wednesday rejects the hug in their painful goodbye. Only after months of knowing each other, being best friends and Enid putting herself into extreme danger to protect Wednesday warranted their first hug. Somehow that follow through in Wednesday’s character was completely abandoned in her love life. To fully explain how the creators messed up Wednesday’s character arc, I will dissect and make–possibly outrageous and scandalous–assumptions about her sexuality.

Wednesday has been a queer icon since her creation in 1964. To quote Morticia in „Addams Family Values“ 1993 „Wednesday’s at that very special age when a girl has only one thing on her mind. Homicide“. Wednesday has been defying heteronormativity since day one with her lack of interest in boys… and as I will argue…in other people in general. I am obviously very biased in my claim, due to my own sexuality, but as far as I’m concerned Wednesday is asexual with aromantic tendencies. Just reviewing what I saw on screen, the Wednesday Addams in Netflix’ adaptation prefers being alone, is repulsed by her parents‘ affection toward one another and is super unaware of and disinterested in the flirting blatantly occurring at her. Thus complete surprise when she is placed in a love triangle with the barista Tyler and her peer Xavier. Staying true to her character and complete disregard and disinterest for human connection, the only „romance“ that ever took place between her, Tyler and her Xavier was purely for her own personal gain in espionage or plotting. Her asking Xavier to the dance was a ploy to see if he was the monster and she only went to the dance with Tyler because Thing, an animated severed hand, manipulated the situation. There was no emotional value from her side whatsoever when interacting with either of the boys. In reviewing all of her relationships, platonic and supposedly beyond platonic, possibly even romantic, she is far more emotionally connected with her friend Eugene, roommate Enid or Thing than she ever was with either of her love interests. She shows emotions toward them, nearly crying when they are hurt or on their deathbed, and tries to protect them at all costs. Even Principal Weems states that “for someone who claims to have no friends (she) certainly (goes) out of (her) way to protect them”. So, how is it that she kisses Tyler before she gives Enid a single hug? Wednesday making this exception to her usual defiance of social norms makes absolutely no sense when concerning Tyler, especially since his personality and their relationship are half baked at best.

This is especially devastating when reviewing the fact that the show didn’t even need a romance. A murder mystery and fantasy television show about a rebellious and self-reliant teen going to a school for outcasts doesn’t owe its viewership a romance. The show, as well as Wednesday’s character, wasn’t set up to be a love story and yet they forced one in anyways, clashing with the entire plot and nature of the show. We already had Ajax‘ and Enid’s love story to appease all of the unsatisfied romantics, but forcing Wednesday into a love triangle simply led to her character assassination and is symptomatic of a greater issue in Hollywood.

Now, what impact does all of this have on the aro ace community? The most obvious is the missed opportunity of representation. The asexual community is often overlooked, especially due to a lack of representation in media. Thus far, only a handful of side characters in TV shows are publically and canonically asexual, with a few more queercoded. Watching this rendition of Wednesday didn’t only somewhat indicate queerness, but they did everything other than call it by its name. Her asexuality seemed targeted, planned and well researched, to the point where I was almost confident it would become a bigger plot. This led to the feeling of betrayal, not only for her character not staying true to her own personality and life mantra, but also of feeling tricked again into seeing myself in a character on screen, but only until a necessary plot dictates she has to change and be normal again.

Wednesday’s ancestor Goody Addams called her a Raven, destined to eternal solitude and as an ace person that really resonated with me. Similarly, I often feel like I am condemned to a life alone due to my sexuality. Wednesday could have been an amazing testament to the fact that you can be deeply connected to the people around you without romance, sex or conforming to the pressures of our heteronormative society. This story should have emphasized that, although she enjoys her independence and solace and lacks a romantic and/or sexual interest in other people, she also can count on friends and family to have her back. Sadly, instead of taking this route, properly representing ace people and staying true to the character arc they set up for Wednesday, they caved in and forced her into a romance with a homicidal monster.

It would be hypocritical of me to call Wednesday out for something that I have seen Hollywood do repeatedly, I just wish that more people were aware of the mental impact it has on the minorities they failed to represent. By queer-coding characters and not pulling through with their resulting identity and personality, the producers are not only neglecting to represent an entire group of people, but butchering the disposition and arc of a beloved character as well. Wednesday, along with the rest of the Addams Family, was designed to break every existing norm. The message I hear now is that Wednesday is „weird“ enough to be disinterested in boys, but not “weird” enough to not date them anyways.

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