Wednesday, December 7, 2022

How subversive can you make the Addams Family?

For the most part, I don’t watch much TV unless our son it watching it. (I’m soooo behind on Doctor Who :’( )But we did decide to binge the new Wednesday show.

For those of you who don’t know, it is about Wednesday Addams as a teenager at a boarding school of gothic adventure. If you aren’t familiar with Wednesday Addams or the Addams family in general, it’s safe to say you are not the target demographic.

I’m not going to go over the storyline because no one needs the spoilers. If you are the target demographic, you’ve probably already watched the show or are planning on it. I will say, from a plot angle, there weren’t a lot of surprises. My wife and I were able to put together what was going to happen pretty easily.

Which wasn’t actually a problem. We were watching a genre show for escapism. We weren’t looking to be challenged. We were looking for comfort food media.

What I do want to consider is the genre change that the work had to go through. The creators took a domestic sit-com (albeit a morbid one) and turned it into a young adult urban fantasy. That’s actually quite a change.  From Happy Days to Buffy the Vampire Slayer

(Amusingly, Fred Armisen didn’t get the memo. His Uncle Fester would have fit in perfectly in any of the earlier versions of the Addams Family. And was a gem)

This meant going from having murder and torture as comedic elements that no one took seriously to having them be almost as serious as murder would be in real life. (Honestly, I don’t see any community being able to cover up as many horrible deaths as they do in the series)

In fact, we felt Wednesday had more in common with Harry Potter than other Addams Family work.

So, here’s the question: does it change things too much? Is it still an Addams Family work?

Well, we now live in a world where multi-media versions of propert are as common as kobolds in a first level dungeon. I’m honestly not sure how many different versions are out there of Spider-Man, just to site one example. It doesn’t even happen to be Parer Parker (Miles Morales rocks!) Heck, Doctor Who is all one continuity and has gone all over the place in genres and tone.

So, yeah, Wednesday does count as an Addams Family work. It’s a different take on the intellectual property but it is still a use of the property. It’s clearly its own canon. It totally loses that argument. (I wish I could say that about Rise of the Skywalkers) And it did a fun job turning it into a more dramatic approach which is what actually matters.

I can see how Wednesday might not appeal to Addams purists. On the other hand, given the innate subversive nature of the Addams Family, I can see purists being thrilled at how Wednesday subverts the property,

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