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Netflix's Wednesday Almost Deprived Us Of The Character's Signature Trait

One of Netflix's recent success stories is the original series "Wednesday," based on the popular character from "The Addams Family" franchise. Fans have generally adored the way the series star Jenna Ortega has embodied the grim, deadpan demeanor of Wednesday Addams perfected by Christina Ricci in two "Addams Family" films in the 1990s while putting her own unique spin on the character, but according to remarks made by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the show's co-creators and co-writers, one of Wednesday's most essential elements as a character was in jeopardy during the production of the show.

While Wednesday's penchant for Kubrick glares and dark clothing were kept intact on "Wednesday," it was the character's signature mordant one-liners that might have been reduced to the cutting room floor had more creatively savvy heads not prevailed. It might be surprising that anyone at Netflix would be interested in doing a series based on "The Addams Family" without retaining the franchise's dark humor, but a recent interview with Gough and Miller reveals that just such a suggestion was made during the editing process.

One Netflix executive suggested cutting out Wednesday's dark jokes

Dark humor is a signature trait of not just the character of Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) but the entire "Addams Family" franchise itself, going all the way back to the morbidly funny gag cartoons by Charles Addams beginning in the 1930s. But in an interview with Geek Vibes Nation to promote "Wednesday," series writer-creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar revealed that one executive suggested removing most or all of it from the series in what would have been a particularly fatal cut. "One executive wanted to cut all the jokes out," said Millar. "All the black humor, all her references to murder and suicide and death. [We were] constantly getting notes to just eliminate all the jokes."

Thankfully, Millar realized the importance of this element to "Wednesday," but he credits executive producer Tim Burton, who also directs four out of its eight episodes, with nailing its grimly humorous tone. "[O]bviously it takes someone like Tim Burton to be able to pull off that tone," Millar said.

Fans of "Wednesday" and of "The Addams Family" in general are almost certainly glad that the unnamed executive who suggested cutting out such gems as Wednesday's description of her psychic visions as feeling "like electroshock therapy, only without the satisfying afterburn" from her own TV show did not see their advice followed by the makers of the show.

It's hard to imagine Wednesday with the dark jokes removed

Whatever the unnamed Netflix executive who suggested cutting out the dark jokes from "Wednesday" might have been thinking, it's difficult to imagine the show, or in fact, any "Addams Family" affiliated project, without at least a pinch of morbid humor. And given the massive success of the series on Netflix, with the platform's biggest ever opening for any series in the English language (via IndieWire), it certainly seems clear that fans, both old and new alike, are responding well to the show's tone. 

The show's gambit of taking Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega), essentially a comedy character, and placing her in a young adult dark fantasy mystery series complete with magic powers and demonic monsters has paid off big time, and that dark humor that makes the show stand out in its genre is a big reason why. But "Wednesday" co-creator and writer Alfred Gough says that mix of tones always seemed like a natural fit, even if the execs at Netflix didn't always agree.

"For executives, it was scary, but for us, it wasn't," he said.