Wednesday's Queerbaiting, AroAce Erasure, & Failed Conversion Therapy Allegory
Everybody is shipping #Wenclair. Netflix and the show's cast are leaning into the queer community with interviews and "Wednesgay" drag events without actually showing us meaningful gay rep on screen. Meanwhile, Wednesday could and should be an AroAce icon.
Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to The Ace Couple podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And I hope that today, you are prepared for this queer vampire couple to utterly lament the missed opportunities in Netflix’s Wednesday and their utterly failed attempts at a modicum of queer representation.
Courtney: So, I love The Addams Family. I have loved The Addams Family for a very long time. I was excited and intrigued when Netflix announced that there was going to be a show revolving around Wednesday Addams. I got more concerned when I found out it was going to be directed by Tim Burton, because he’s kind of like the go-to goth director, I think. But I think he gets a lot of praise for things that he didn’t actually do, and I think the things he did actually do aren’t very good, sometimes. But, nevertheless, it came out, and we watched it, and it was… mostly okay?
Royce: It was… fine? I feel like you mentioned at one point that the pilot, the first episode out of the eight-episode TV series, was the best part.
Courtney: Yeah, it was, like, fine with an asterisk. The very first episode got me really excited. There were some scenes where I was just, like, grinning from ear to ear, and I was very much looking forward to the rest of the series. But it’s almost as if they, like, fired all of their best writers after the pilot was written. [laughs]
Royce: It also felt like they were trying to do a lot of different things all at once.
Courtney: And a lot of those things failed miserably. Overall, like, I didn’t hate the show, but I hate how many missed opportunities there were, truthfully. Like Morticia and Gomez, for example. I know when the casting was announced, there was like, oh, this big scandal, people were discoursing all over the internet about it – just awful comments about, like, “Oh, I can’t get behind an ugly Gomez.” And it’s like, first of all, first of all, “ugly” by whose standards? And then, of course, people are chiming in, like, “Oh, well, actually, he’s pretty on par, pretty spot-on for the comics.” And people being like, “Oh, well, I guess you have a point.”
Courtney: And it’s like, people have to stop caring about aesthetics so much for actors, I think. Because their performances were great, and people were just fully prepared to judge them up and down based on how they look before they even see the dang show. And when you’re doing an adaptation of an existing franchise where everybody knows the characters, there’s going to be a deviation, there’s going to be a change in casting. They’re going to be played, dare I say, by completely different people! And I don’t think it’s good to try to match aesthetics one-to-one every time you’re rebooting a series.
Royce: No. And there’s also just this overarching Hollywood body image problem –
Courtney: Mmm. Mhm.
Royce: – that is exacerbated when common critiques of casting is, “Oh, this person isn’t attractive enough to play this role.”
Courtney: Mmm. Mhm. Yeah. So that was all very disappointing. But I would say, after watching the entire series, Morticia and Gomez were criminally underutilized. And I think that’s part of the reason why I liked the first episode so much, because they were there. [laughs]
Royce: They were present.
Courtney: They existed. Then they just vanished for several episodes to reappear later, but the majority of The Addams Family was just not there very much.
Royce: Which, that was one thing that I guess was a surprise, because I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know anything about this series before we started watching it.
Courtney: I didn’t know very much.
Royce: And I assumed it was going to be sort of a, you know, reboot of The Addams Family with a focus on Wednesday, perhaps, as the titular character. But it takes place in a school – a school for people who have powers – and so most of this focuses on Wednesday at this school. And her parents are only there, like you said, on the first day, when she’s being driven there and dropped off, and on, like, one other occasion where they come around town.
Courtney: Yeah. Overall, very usage –
Royce: Or for the rest of the family, when Uncle Fester just decides to drop in unannounced.
Courtney: Yeah! There were a lot of… There were so many elements to the show, which is very odd, because I think there were some plot lines that were not explored far enough. There was some very, like, unearned character-building, in some cases. And yet, there were parts of it that seemed to just drag on way too long. I will fully admit there were… I think I fell asleep multiple times while we tried watching this. I had to restart, like, three different episodes because I fell asleep. [laughs] And I don’t know how there were parts that could be so boring and dragging on, and yet it felt like there were elements that were just shoehorned in all over the place.
Courtney: So, I really want to touch on the failed queer rep, because that’s what I’m feeling feistiest about right now. But I do also want to return to the aesthetics comment just a moment. Because one of my reservations of Tim Burton is that he got called out a few years ago for racist casting, because he casts almost exclusively white people. And when sort of asked about that, his response was awful. It was downright terrible. Here, I actually have the quote: “When asked about the lack of diversity” – from, it looks like, this is in 2016 – he said, “Nowadays, people are talking about it more… Things either call for things, or they don’t. I remember back when I was a child watching The Brady Bunch and they started to get all politically correct, like, OK, let’s have an Asian child and a black. I used to get more offended by that than just… I grew up watching blaxploitation movies, right? And I said, ‘That’s great.’ I didn’t go like, ‘OK, there should be more white people in these movies.’”
Courtney: What are you doing, Tim Burton? [laughs] People are like, “Hey, you only cast white people,” and he’s like, “Yeah. But it’s just because things either call for things or they don’t, not because I sat down and said, ‘I need more white people.’” [laughs] What are you doing? What are you doing? So clearly, there were a lot of… well, I wouldn’t say “a lot.” Clearly, many of the main characters were Latinx for The Addams Family. But I did go in wanting to pay special attention to the Black casting. You know, are there going to be any Black actors? And there were. The very first one introduced, though, was a girl at school who is immediately set up to be, like, the bully antagonist. And she was a siren? Ugh. I didn’t like that very much. I really didn’t like that. And her whole thing – because this school, this boarding school, is supposed to be, like, mythical creatures and witches, and…
Royce: It’s a big variety. The story sets them up. This was one thing that threw me off a little bit, because there are a lot of very dark, grim jokes, because it revolves around Wednesday. Like, casual mentions of torture happen all the time.
Royce: But the delineation that is said stoneface, sometimes, by adults is that there are the normies and the outcasts.
Courtney: [laughs] Yeah. Yep. So we have a school for the outcasts.
Royce: And by “outcasts,” it is a mix of people with… I guess what you would say traditional superhero powers, like telekinesis. Wednesday is a psychic in this universe.
Courtney: Which for some reason they didn’t know when she was enrolled in the school, so I really don’t know how she got enrolled in the school in the first place, except that her parents went there.
Royce: True. But then there are mythical creatures, like sirens and werewolves and vampires, I believe.
Courtney: Yeah, there was like a whole almost like Mean Girls cafeteria scene, where it’s like, “Let us show you the cliques. These are the vampires. These are the werewolves.” And then there was, like, a group of students that just, like, didn’t have faces, which got, like, mentioned and shown only in the background of a couple of scenes throughout the series, and I thought it was very odd to show that there were these… like, an entire group of students who had some kind of facial difference without explaining who they are and not giving a single one a name or interacting with anyone at all. It kind of just gave the vibe that, like, even though this is the outcast school, there are still some people who are a little more outcast.
Royce: They were only shown in situations where there’s a punchline to be made.
Courtney: Yeah, like, “Ooh, look how weird this school is.”
Royce: Well, it was – there was one specific one that I remember, where, during an announcement, something was said, and I don’t remember what it was, but it was something like, you know, “Keep on a happy face” or something that these characters would be physically incapable of doing, to show that they are being excluded.
Courtney: Which is kind of gross. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that! It’s not funny. That’s just… I mean, there are strong ableist undertones to that. So yeah. Then to, like, okay, well, there’s the first Black character we’ve been introduced to, and she is a siren, and her whole deal is that she’s so beautiful and alluring and sensual and she can use, like, her siren voice to make people do what she wants and manipulate them. And it’s like, that’s a really bad look if that’s one of only a handful of Black characters you’ve ever put in your content. [laughs] Because yeah, there’s definitely an overarching layer of fetishization and hypersexualization with that that just rubbed me the wrong way. There were some people… Because some people – obviously, everyone’s gonna have their own opinion, so there are going to be mixed responses, but there were people who are like, “Why are all the Black characters in the show antagonists? Literally all of them.” But the siren character. What was her name? Bianca? Was that it?
Courtney: So Bianca did have a kind of character redemption, and like, she and Wednesday were cool by the end of the show, but I thought that they didn’t go far enough into her backstory. They introduced elements of her backstory and her home life away from school, but I don’t think it was explored fully enough to be satisfying.
Royce: I feel like most of the casual antagonists that weren’t the big villains of the arc had some sort of redeeming moment, because the whole establishing of the cliques at the school just faded into the background almost immediately.
Royce: It was set up and then ignored.
Courtney: Yes. Yeah. And so, there were people who are like, “Oh, well, she had character growth and development, so she wasn’t an antagonist, and she became likable, and so we can’t just treat her as a villain.” And it’s like, I still think her character development was too shallow. Like, if she’s there and you’re going to use her, like, use her. I don’t know. But yeah, then they had… I think the second Black character we saw at all was a group of bullies who, like, literally got in a fistfight with Wednesday in a diner, and they were dressed as Pilgrims? [laughs]
Courtney: And it turns out he was the son of the corrupt mayor, who was the third and final named Black character, I want to say, in the entire show. So it’s certainly not the best look for someone who’s been called out for racist casting in the past.
Courtney: But I want to talk about the failed queer rep. Oh, the failed queer rep. So the thing is, there’s a huge queer following around The Addams Family and Wednesday Addams, and a lot of that does kind of come from the, like, feeling like an outcast. But…
Royce: They tried so hard.
Courtney: They failed so bad! [laughs]
Royce: They tried really hard to make metaphors towards queer identities without actually really showing queer identities.
Courtney: Oh, it was the utter worst. So get this: so, before the show even comes out, they’re leaning into the queer community. Netflix actually hired a cast of alumni from RuPaul’s Drag Race to put on a “WednesGay” show, like, a week or two before the show came out, in L.A. Why would they do that if there are no gay characters? [laughing] What are you doing, Netflix?
Courtney: So, I will I say, there weren’t no gay characters. Because – to the show’s credit, to their very highly earned credit, there was a case where one of the students did have lesbian moms, and the two moms were shown for maybe a minute when they were visiting him in the hospital. Stop it with the gay parents. Stop it, stop it, please. Like, literally, when we saw that, [laughs] I was already complaining about the failed queer representation, and I was like, “Okay, well, there’s our gay moms. At least it’s not the gay dads.” [laughs] But just stop it! If you don’t have other queer characters and, like, legitimate, tangible, queer elements, I’m just going to say you don’t get to do the gay parents that aren’t even really characters. That scene added nothing except, “Look, this character had gay moms the whole time. Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you? Really makes you think.” [laughs]
Royce: So for the thing that had us groaning and trying to figure out, are you even able to articulate what they were trying to go for? Because Wednesday’s roommate was a werewolf. Her name is Enid, and she’s poised as the polar opposite of Wednesday. Wednesday comes in, and Enid is very bright and cheerful and is wearing, like, rainbow colors and has, like, pastel clothing and hair. And eventually one of the underlying themes of the show is the two of them becoming friends and seeing eye to eye. But Enid is a werewolf who hasn’t been able to transform.
Courtney: To “wolf out”! [laughs]
Royce: And the mechanisms of werewolf transformation are not mentioned very well. They’re not explained very well. We know that transforming under the full moon is a part of it, but apparently it’s something that a young werewolf sort of grows into? So it was somewhat being mixed as a bit like puberty.
Courtney: Yes, a bit like puberty, because she even used the phrase, at one point: “late bloomer.”
Courtney: Which… [laughs] We’re gonna put a pin in that. We’re coming back to that, best you believe.
Royce: So, Enid is unable to transform and is getting a lot of pressure from her parents to transform, because she’s seen as an oddity because she can’t do this yet and can’t participate in this aspect of her culture. But then there are these odd metaphors, like they were trying to compare, like I said, going through werewolf puberty to coming out?
Courtney: Well –
Royce: Or to being kept in the closet?
Courtney: So, what they did… She could, like… Her fingernails would, like, grow into these big claws. So that was, like, a part of an element of her werewolfishness. But she couldn’t fully wolf out. Which also, every time they said that, I was like, “You couldn’t come up with anything better than ‘wolf out’?” [laughs] But it was so strange, because they referred to her as a “late bloomer.” It was kind of like an element of puberty, like, “This is something that’s going to happen at a certain age.” And it was kind of like a racial thing, because you are born as a werewolf. She had werewolf, you know, parents. And so it’s like, is this racial, is this coming of age, or is this queer? Because they had, like, some students mocking her at one point, being like, [muted chanting] “Wolf out! Wolf out!” who, like, weren’t werewolves. And so it’s like, is she being mocked for being a werewolf? Or is she being mocked for, like, not being able to transform as a werewolf? But her parents seemed – her mom at least seemed very disappointed that she hadn’t wolfed out yet.
Courtney: And so during, like, family week, where all the family are coming to visit the boarding school and visit their kids and all this, she brought pamphlets for a summer camp where she could go and be with her own kind. And she was like, “Mom! Werewolf conversion? [laughs] You’re trying to send me to werewolf conversion camp?” And I was like, “Conv- conv-...” How are you going to even try to make this a conversion therapy metaphor if this is also set up to be a natural part of puberty and if it’s also set up to be something, like, racial…?
Courtney: Genetic. What? It doesn’t work on any level. There is no level that that works. Because also, she was so deeply offended that her mom was, like, doing this, and yet, she also seemed like she wanted to wolf out. There wasn’t ever a moment where she’s like, “I don’t have to wolf out to be me.” Like, she wasn’t happy in her current state either, so if there is, in this universe, a place you can go to help, it doesn’t work as conversion therapy, so I don’t… I don’t… Aaah! [laughs] It’s so bad!
Royce: Well, particularly, because she does transform.
Courtney: She does!
Royce: And so, whatever attempted metaphor they were going for… Even if there was, like, let’s say, a minority population of werewolves who never transformed and were seen as abnormalities within their own community. Like, that is thrown out the window in the last episode when she actually does transform.
Courtney: Right, because conversion therapy has been deemed a form of psychological torture. And it is complete pseudoscience. You cannot force therapy onto someone to change their orientation or their gender. It doesn’t work that way. But then the mom was even like, “Oh, your cousin went to one of these camps and it helped them. Like, they were able to wolf out after going to this thing.” It’s like, well, that’s actually… like, you actually did literally make a change. There is a physiological change in this person that is now allowing them to do that. And there’s no way to fake that. It’s not like any of the instances where, like, ex-gay pastors at the conversion therapy camps are like, “Oh, I was gay, and then I went to this camp and now I’m not.” Like, it wasn’t an instance like that, where they’re still someone who is turning against their community and having an element of self-hatred and lying. Like, there is an observable, identifiable, literal change. So there’s nothing about this that works. And when she does transform into a werewolf, it’s at this very heroic time, because she’s able to fight the big monster they’ve been investigating this whole time in her wolf form.
Royce: We skipped over that part. There’s a big monster and stuff.
Courtney: The monster is, like, the least interesting part of the show. [laughs] I don’t know, you guys. And it was, like, this big congratulatory moment and this big climactic moment where, now that she has become a wolf, she has come into her own and she’s able to literally fight this antagonist who’s been the through-plot of this entire series. So what is it?
Royce: Was it –
Courtney: I don’t understand.
Royce: Was her mom right the whole time? What was the deal?
Courtney: There’s nothing that makes that metaphor work, not even a little bit. And I think anybody who is queer or deeply knows and loves a queer person is going to actually see that conversion therapy line and, like, think that that was good. Like, the only people, I think, who are going to think that that is in any way deep or meaningful are going to be people who have no deep relationships with any queer people and just know “conversion therapy bad.” Like, politically, they don’t agree with conversion therapy, but they haven’t really engaged in queer culture at all to know much about it or what it is. Because it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.
Courtney: And… so, let’s talk about the “late bloomer” thing. So, for how much this was kind of leaned in with the “WednesGay,” and yet there’s only gay moms who aren’t even real characters, a lot of people are looking for gay protagonists in this. Like, Wednesday and Enid being the goth girl and the bright bubbly colorful girl and being like, oh, not liking each other at first, but then developing a friendship. There are so many people shipping them right now, being like, “Oh we want a Season 2 and we want them to become girlfriends.” I will hate that if that happens for all the reasons.
Royce: Reason number one being that a close relationship doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship.
Courtney: That’s one of the reasons, yes. So, both Wednesday and Enid, I think, could very justifiably actually have meaningful Ace and/or Aro rep. Because we literally have a girl who is a werewolf. She is supposed to have had this transformation by this time in her life. Her family’s concerned that she’s a late bloomer. She’s concerned she’s a late bloomer. But something feels wrong to her about forcing it. Like, the “late bloomer” thing is something that a lot of Aces get. And they’ll either have other people telling them that or they’ll tell themselves that, like, “Oh I’m just a late bloomer.” And so that could have theoretically, maybe, been a type of meaningful queer rep. But to do that, she would have had to have not transformed at all.
Royce: Right. And still found a way, by the end of the series, to come to terms with that.
Courtney: Yes. So that could have been part of it. Because also, now, if you make her gay – which, by the way, she had, like, a boyfriend at one point, she went on dates with a guy, so it’s not as if she’s completely ambiguous. Could she be Bi? Of course. Anybody can be Bi until proven otherwise. [laughs] But we know she at least explored a relationship with boys and has not explored a relationship with girls. But if you’re gonna throw out, so callously, this line about werewolf conversion and treat it as, “Oh, that’s bad! Appalling! How dare you?” but then she does transform anyway, like, wouldn’t that imply that being werewolf is like being cishet, in the metaphor, if we’re trying to give them the benefit of the doubt?
Royce: That’s what I was thinking. Unless you take the conversion therapy line as a really lazy joke that didn’t go over well and just throw that out – which is probably the better option, is just to throw that line out.
Courtney: Which, I didn’t get the vibes that it was being played off as a joke. I thought they really thought they had something. [laughs]
Royce: Maybe. If you try to make that line make sense, then yeah, “being a werewolf and transforming at a particular time as a particular stage in your life” is heteronormativity, or amatonormativity would be the comparison.
Courtney: Mhm. Yeah. So, it already makes no sense. It’ll make even less sense, [laughs] I think, if… I don’t know. It’s very, very odd. They shouldn’t have ever tried to parallel that. There was no justification or payoff for it. But Wednesday, on the other hand, I’m going to be mad if they make her romantically involved with anyone, because major, major AroAce vibes from her all around. And in the very first episode – because, like, Morticia and Gomez: famously very sensual, famously very sexual, famously, like, PDA all over the place. And they’re, like, singing to each other very lovingly and gazing into each other’s eyes as they’re being driven to drop Wednesday off. And she literally looks at them like, “You’re making me nauseous.” [laughs] And, you know, Wednesday and her mom are butting heads, and Wednesday isn’t particularly jazzed about being dropped off at this school.
Courtney: And before everyone leaves after they have dropped her off, she literally looks her mother in the eye and is like, “I am not you. I will never fall in love. I am never going to be a housewife, and I am never going to have a family.” And like right there, “I will never fall in love.” If you now make her fall in love, I’m gonna be pissed! Because she should be Aro, and regardless, I don’t expect a show this basic… [laughs] It kind of sucks to call an Addams Family piece of media “basic,” but this is. This is, like, basic Addams Family. It’s like Addams Family for the masses. But in any situation, if you’re taking anybody, but especially a young girl, where you could see people being like, “Oh, well, it’s a late bloomer,” or “You’ll change your mind,” things like that, or, you know, “Once you’re an adult, you’ll understand” – all those awful things that people in the Ace and Aro communities get, you can’t undermine that in media anymore. I don’t expect them to go whole hog and be like, “Yeah, she is AroAce, and she’s going to come out, and we’re going to say the word on screen.” Like, I don’t think that’s gonna happen. But you can’t undermine characters that say things like that, especially one that’s so confident and self-assured as Wednesday Addams. Wednesday Addams does not say anything that she does not believe to be true or to, like… [sighs]
Courtney: So, no, I don’t think you can give her a love interest. I am sorry to everyone out there who’s like, “I would love to see Wednesday Addams be gay.” You can’t! You can’t do it. And I don’t think… I don’t trust or expect a show like this to be able to do a reasonable representation of, like, a queerplatonic relationship with Wednesday and Enid. Would I love to see it? Yeah! I think a queerplatonic relationship with those two could be really cool. This show isn’t going to do that. This show created a werewolf conversion therapy. [laughs] Like, it’s not gonna happen.
Royce: I know you said you were in and out during certain parts of this series because you fell asleep multiple times, but –
Royce: – are you forgetting that the big revelation about who the true mystery monster villain was happened during a kiss?
Courtney: Ohh, shoot! That did happen, didn’t it? So, ughhh.
Royce: Wednesday actually had two love interests during this, but –
Courtney: That’s what made me so mad.
Royce: But for periods of time, it seemed… It could have still been written as an Ace or Aro plot, because oftentimes, she seemed very ignorant of it. But it also seems that, as the story progressed, they were attempting to humanize her, in a way.
Royce: As, like, “Oh, she’s coming around to this whole relationship thing.”
Courtney: Yeah, which, I’m cool with that happening in the friendship sense, because she did have at least two, like, pretty good friends by the end of this. But, ugh, yeah, so they kept trying to make this, like, love triangle plot almost happen with Wednesday. And I forgot that that big revelation literally did happen during a kiss. So that’s upsetting, because why make the revelation happen during a kiss?
Royce: To clarify, the major way that Wednesday’s psychic visions, which were oftentimes prophetic – no, they exclusively saw into the past, nevermind – but they would happen on contact, oftentimes, with another person.
Courtney: Yeah. So, for most of the time, when these two guys – because again, two guys… Oh! I just remembered, someone at one point even asked Wednesday, like, if she had a date or something and was like, “Oh, who’s the lucky guy? Or girl?” [laughs] And then they just brushed past that and I was like, “Oh, there’s that progressive queer rep again, acknowledging that it might be a girl instead of a guy she’s going out with.” [laughs] So, like, again, it’s very… I can’t even say fanservice-y, because it’s not really for the queer fans, [laughing] I don’t think. I think it’s for… just something they can point to, to be like, “Look, we did this.” [laughs] Because, I don’t know, it just felt so shallow.
Courtney: But for the most part, when these two guys were courting her, she was very much like, “What are you doing? Why… why are we doing this?” And in her Wednesday way, she seemed very cynical. She really only accepted dates or conversations with these guys when she thought that she could get some kind of information from it. And she didn’t really exude any strong romantic inclinations in and of her own volition. And I do think that, like, an Ace stuck in what’s trying to be, like, a forced love triangle who just doesn’t care about either of the other corners of the love triangle could be really funny! There could be so much comedy involved in that. And yet, I really don’t suspect that they will do that – if indeed this even gets another season, if they try to continue this on; I don’t know what the plan is for that. But it’s just all such a missed opportunity, I think.
Courtney: And I suppose, ’cause… I don’t know. Shipping’s weird for me because I largely do not understand it, and I especially do not understand it when you’re doing it for real people and not fictional characters, but I don’t really understand any of it. The chemistry that was there between Wednesday and Enid, to me, I think could be an incredibly valuable queerplatonic relationship. Because even though they both did date guys throughout this season, the guys never seemed to take precedence over their relationship as friends by the end. Like, after Enid had wolfed out and helped defeat the antagonist monster creature, like, she and Wednesday have this very affectionate hug that I know there are people who are going to start reading into that romantically, and that’s where some of the shipping’s going to come from, but I think that’s just because everybody assumes that any level of intimacy must progress to romance. And I just do not think that’s the case.
Courtney: In fact, some of my favorite pieces of media are women who have dated other people and continue to date other people, but, like, their friendship, like, that is the soulmate bond right there. Like, no matter who you are sleeping with or who you’re dating, whether or not you’re in a relationship or married, like, you keep coming back to your number one best friend. And even if they don’t use the word “queerplatonic,” it’s like, that is the relationship of this series that matters. Like, for example – and we’ll probably do an entire episode about this, because I loved it so much, but Kevin Can Fuck Himself was one of those. We had a character who was married to a guy, and we had a character who started the season in a relationship with a guy but then started dating a woman. And while they have these other relationships with other people, at the end of the day, those two women and their friendship – which was not at all sexual – was the capital R- Relationship of the show. And I love when that happens! Because I do think that’s queerplatonic representation that we really, really need, but we haven’t gotten to a point where that’s going to start being named in television. It’s sort of… I don’t know, I think to all of the earlier TV and movie representations of, like, the characters weren’t stated to be gay, but they’re very gay-coded. It’s like the queerplatonic version of that. Because there have been a couple of those lately. Kevin Can Fuck Himself was one. What was the one that just released their last season?
Royce: Dead To Me?
Courtney: Dead To Me also did that, yes, which I appreciated. So, I think if they took a future theoretical relationship route with Enid and Wednesday, like, that’s what I want to see. And I really want to see Wednesday continue to be, like, legitimately AroAce. I don’t want these love triangles with two teenage guys for Wednesday. Because it does run the risk of sort of… like our criticism with Dexter where he was very Ace at the beginning of the series, but he was also – they were doubling down on “no human emotion.” But as soon as they were like, “Okay, well we do want to make him more sympathetic, we do want to humanize him a little bit,” they also then made him more sexual.
Courtney: I don’t want to see that happen with Wednesday, because she started this season being very much like, “I’m a lone wolf. I don’t need relationships with other people.” And by the end of the season, she did have a couple of very good friends and had dated a couple of guys. And I don’t mind the friends, but gosh darn it, if they decide to humanize and develop Wednesday’s emotions by giving her a legitimate romantic interest, I’m gonna be mad!
Royce: Well, if they end up disproving that earlier statement and Wednesday does end up being, in the end, much more like Morticia, that is saying that, “Oh, this is actually just a phase.”
Courtney: Yeah. “You’ll grow out of it. You’ll grow up. You’re the late bloomer.” [laughs]
Royce: Which, the fact that this is also surrounding a goth person… Like, you also have the sort of countercultural, “You’re going to grow out of this teenage phase” sort of thing –
Royce: – on top of all the other regions they’re trying to manifest it into.
Courtney: Yeah. So, moreover, I just think if you’re going to have a character with such confidence say, “I will never fall in love,” you need to stick to that. Because we are definitely at a point where amatonormativity and compulsory sexuality are so, so very pervasive that you just can’t be undermining your own character like that! Because real life people, real life Aces and Aros, get disregarded because nobody has seen any evidence to the contrary in very good representation on TV. There’s so little out there right now.
Courtney: But yeah, I think one of the best parts of the show was Thing.
Royce: The walking hand, yeah.
Courtney: Thing’s performance was brilliant. [laughs] The depth, the nuance, the emotions brought forth by this single hand in makeup. [laughs] Beautiful. 10/10 work. Invented handacting. I would like to play Thing in a future iteration of The Addams Family; that’s my new personal career aspiration. My hand might be a little too small to be Thing, but I thought that was very, very good. I liked that a lot.
Courtney: But yeah, I think there were also some things where I felt confused, because I feel like they didn’t think through some elements of family history well enough. Because a lot of these visions that Wednesday starts having revolve around an ancestor of hers who was apparently from Gomez’s side of the family and was supposedly supposed to be, like, the first Mexican immigrant to America. But this was, like, Puritan settler timeline. And it was also played by the same actress; Jenna Ortega played her also. And until it was outright stated, I was trying to figure out exactly which side of the family that came from, because her name was also Addams, so I was like, “Well, that would have had to have been, you know, paternal family name, I would think.”
Courtney: But then, it turns out that Wednesday’s ability to see visions comes from Morticia? Because Morticia realized that she had a vision at one point, and was like, “Oh how long have you been doing that?” and starts explaining some of the powers, and she’s like, “Oh, we get these visions from our ancestors.” And it’s like, now how does that work? [laughs] Because I would think if this is a hereditary psychic ability from her mother’s lineage, that she’d be seeing one of her mother’s ancestors, but that did not seem to be the case. So there were just a lot of things like that where I thought, “That could have maybe been thought out a little better or explained a little better.”
Courtney: Oh, and Christina Ricci was in it, who was Wednesday Addams in the movie from… the ’90s?
Royce: The ’91 movie, yeah.
Courtney: Yeah, ’91. And as soon as I realized that that’s who it was playing that character who was a teacher at the school, I immediately realized – and this was a couple episodes in before I was like, “Oh, that’s Christina Ricci!” I immediately realized that that character had to have some kind of twist, like, somehow she’s actually going to be the villain in all of this, because of the fact that until that twist did happen – I called it – that character had no reason to be there at all. Like, yeah, she was a teacher. We saw her in class a couple of times. She seemed to constantly be trying to reach out to Wednesday, you know, “I’m here if you want someone to talk to.” Which, Wednesday wasn’t gonna take her up on that. Are you kidding me? It’s Wednesday Addams! And she just seemed to have a surprising amount of screen time proportion to what she was actually doing to drive the plot. And then I realized, like, “Oh, well, that’s the actress who played Wednesday in the ’91 movie, so, uh, they brought her back for a reason. So I guess that character is going to have a big reveal.” And sure enough, that is exactly what happened. So, uh…
Courtney: That could have been a little more clever, I think. [laughs] I just, I can’t get over how bad of a queer allegory the werewolf thing is, on every conceivable level. Because now, I’m even trying to think, is there a way at all that new information could be revealed in a theoretical Season 2 that would even kind of make that make sense? Even a little bit? And I can’t think of one. Because if you make her… If you go for, like, the Enid/Wednesday shipping and you try to put them in a relationship and you say that her wolfing out was in some way a queer awakening, that doesn’t make sense, because everyone’s been trying to get you to do that in the first place, and you were horribly offended when they brought up the idea of a camp for that.
Royce: And it happens to the vast majority of werewolves earlier in life.
Royce: Without struggle.
Courtney: Yes. So that doesn’t work. And that also kind of lends credibility to the myth that someone who says they aren’t interested in X, Y and Z… It’s never, “Oh, maybe they’re Ace or Aro.” It’s either “You’re a late bloomer” or “You’re just closeted and gay” or both. [laughs] And so it’s like, I don’t want to lend any credence to either of those. If you do make her Ace or Aro, that doesn’t work either, because you kind of did prove that she was a late bloomer by nature of the fact that she did bloom. [laughing] She did do that change. So there’s just no good way to salvage that. But yeah, I don’t know. Royce, do you have any thoughts about the people who are so heavily shipping Enid and Wednesday in a very gay, sapphic, not AroAce way?
Royce: Not any new thoughts. I think that this happens frequently in any show that doesn’t explicitly pair people up. I remember some conversations around the time Encanto came out, for example.
Royce: Which was a show that was all about family relationships and family bonding.
Courtney: Family trauma.
Royce: Family trauma. This seems to happen anytime a relationship structure that isn’t inherently romantic, is that fans of the shows will try to force romance.
Royce: And what that leads to, in a lot of cases, is AroAce erasure. Because there wasn’t anything romantic between Enid and Wednesday on screen whatsoever.
Courtney: I didn’t think so either. But there are some people who are convinced that the first scene that they reunite after she had wolfed out – there are some people who are convinced that they saw romance in that, like, hug and reuniting scene in the woods. And I personally didn’t, and I don’t think that their relationship would have been any more special or merited if it was romantic.
Courtney: And I also just don’t know what they’d do for a Season 2. A bunch of people are like, “Oh, in Season 2, I hope we see Wenclair.”
Courtney: And I’m just like, you basically had a mystery that was the through-plot of the season that got solved. I’m also not clear if Wednesday is allowed to come back to the school or not, because she technically got expelled, but then the person who expelled her died. So does she just get to come back and pretend like she was never expelled? [laughs]
Royce: Yeah, I mean, we already said the existing plotlines in Season 1 were haphazard, so I feel like Season 2 would be a lot more of the same, of “Let’s throw some stuff at the wall.”
Courtney: Mm. “And see what sticks.” Hopefully, [laughing] no more failed conversion therapy allegories! You know, there were also a few moments throughout the show where I thought the writers just truly did not understand Wednesday or The Addams Family in general. And I’ll give one example. You mentioned Wednesday having these, you know, casual lines about torture all of the time. And there was a moment where one of the love triangle boys was like, “Hey, let’s watch a movie,” and it was, like, Legally Blonde, and Wednesday said, like, “That was torture. Thank you,” and like enjoyed it because it was torturous. But… that didn’t work! [laughs]
Royce: If you step back for a moment, Wednesday Addams just admitted to enjoying watching Legally Blonde.
Courtney: Yes! And the thing is – because, yeah, you’re talking about things like pain and blood and violence as, like, a good thing, because that’s kind of The Addams Family thing. Even, like, the very first episode, Morticia Addams looks at a gray sky as it starts to rain, and she’s like, “Oh, at least it’s becoming a beautiful day now.” Like, they see beauty in the dark things that other people don’t normally see. And Wednesday, of course, does enjoy, you know, torturing other people, has this, like, sadistic tendency, especially her brother. And there would constantly be lines of, like – even when she told her parents, “You’re making me nauseous,” she was like, “Not in the good way,” implying that she does like being nauseous in some other situations. And some of those just didn’t work because they didn’t keep it consistent. Because to me, I would think, for watching Legally Blonde, Wednesday would be like, “This is torture, and this is bad torture. I personally, Wednesday, do not like this, because this thing that’s normally happy and fluffy and good for other people is torturous for me. But the things torturous for them, I’m into that.”
Royce: “This is torture and not in the good way.”
Courtney: Exactly! [laughs] So I thought there were some odd inconsistencies. And I also thought some of the best one-liners were in that first episode, too. And I feel like some of the one-liners throughout the rest of the series got a little bit repetitive. And I also realized – because at one point, Royce, while we were watching, you turned to me and you said, like, “Have they repeated some lines?” I think they did a couple of times, perhaps, but it occurred to me, at the end of the first episode, they made the very odd choice for something that was literally streaming on Netflix, [laughing] where all of the episodes released at once, there was, like, a “Coming up on The Addams Family,” like, there was a little clipped-together montage of scenes that were to come, which was utterly unnecessary, because we’re just going to stream the second episode now anyway, because that’s how Netflix works. But I think they took all of the best lines for the rest of the season and put them in that montage. So then when we did actually get those lines, it’s like, “I already heard that line.” [laughs] Why did they do that?
Royce: I don’t know enough about the early release of the show, but it definitely seemed like something you would do if you are putting a pilot out well ahead of the release of the rest of the series.
Courtney: Yeah. So, I thought that was odd. There were a couple of good, clever callbacks. In this school, there was, like, a secret society, secret club kind of a thing. And in order to get into this secret hideout, this cellar, there was a statue that you had to stand in front of and snap twice. And that’s, like, such a clear callback to the Addams Family song, and I thought that was really clever! I liked that. And I liked tiny little integrations of callbacks like that.
Courtney: And, like I said, I think Morticia and Gomez were criminally underused. I get that the show is called Wednesday, but I think the show was better every time that they were there. Honestly… and like, I love Wednesday; I think there were a lot of failed opportunities here. But was Wednesday even the best Addams family member to pick out and be like, “You’re going to be the protagonist of this?” Because honestly, I think it would have been cool if they did that with Pugsley.
Royce: Oh really? I don’t know enough about Pugsley.
Courtney: Nobody does! [laughs]
Courtney: That’s why! [laughs]
Royce: Fair enough. I was about to say, there are so many offhand comments about what Uncle Fester does traveling around the world.
Courtney: Yes! [laughs] Because the one thing about Pugsley is he’s very much faded into the background for all modern Addams Family media, and he doesn’t have as strong of a brand as Wednesday does. And maybe that alone is not enough to sell a TV show on it, but I think it gives a lot more possibility to make him a more standout character and present new and interesting things. Because originally – like, back to the cartoons – I believe he was set up to be, like, just as, you know, sadistic and deviant as Wednesday was, and they were kind of, like, in it together doing these, you know, nefarious deeds. But there was a moment where he was, like, a little more normal in the TV show, and they were concerned that he was behaving oddly, but his odd behavior was, like, playing with a puppy. [laughs] And so it’s like, is he a normal boy or is he an Addams through and through? And I feel like the more recent representations of him – they’ve just made him a complete and utter pushover who is just, you know, tossed around and bullied by Wednesday but doesn’t have much of a personality on his own.
Courtney: And even to go back to the movie, even though it was an Addams Family movie and all of the Addamses were more present, Wednesday was still a standout of that movie, because Wednesday went to a summer camp and had this whole plot where she was removed from the rest of the Addams family. So, a lot of people think about that movie, and they think about the Wednesday Addams scenes. But like, what does Pugsley have? I’m gonna say right now, we need justice for Pugsley. Make that a hashtag. #JusticeForPugsley. [laughs]
Courtney: It’s an intriguing thought, because, honestly, for as kind of basic and for how many missed opportunities this Wednesday show had, I at least knew what to expect roughly from Wednesday as a character with characterizations, and I got roughly that. But Pugsley… what version of Pugsley are we going for? What are you going to do with him? What’s his standout character going to be? How are you going to make him so much more distinct from, you know, the rest of the family? I don’t know. I’m intrigued.
Royce: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’m doing a little bit of reading on Pugsley right now. I wonder if his character has changed the most throughout the various incarnations of the series.
Courtney: As far as I know, I think that’s a safe bet. As much as I love The Addams Family, I can’t claim to be, like, a mega-expert who has seen everything, but I definitely know that he is kind of just the pushover right now, but hasn’t always been that way.
Royce: That seems to be the case in most of the more modern representations. It seems that, historically, he was the older child, for one thing.
Courtney: Mhm. Yep.
Royce: And it shows him being very intelligent and inventive and often creating a lot of the sort of dark toys and things that they would play with, like toy guillotines and and other devices. At one point, he had a pet octopus called Aristotle.
Courtney: That’s a great name for a pet octopus! Can you imagine a show about Pugsley and Aristotle and having, like, an octopus that is just, like, causing mayhem? I want a mischievous octopus sidekick for Pugsley.
Royce: There’s a lot of real-world octopus studies to draw from there.
Courtney: Yes! Tell us about the real-world octopods. There are so – I love them so much! There are instances of, like, octopi in captivity who have, like, figured out how to use their tentacles to squirt water from their tanks to [laughing] short-circuit electricity. Like, they’re so intelligent, and they’re so mischievous, and imagine an Addams Family version of that.
Royce: Well, it seems like that’s what the original incarnation of Pugsley was supposed to be, was very intelligent and mischievous.
Courtney: Yes! I think it’s interesting. That’s my challenge for showrunners. [laughs] Give us a Pugsley series! But anyway, on that note, thank you all, as always, for being here. Give us those likes, subscribes, rating, reviews, what else is there, comments, follows. [laughs] Give us the things! Give us all of the things. If you’re listening to this on YouTube, or if you follow us over on Twitter, feel free to drop us a comment and let us know what your thoughts are on AroAce Wednesday Addams. Let us know what you think of a possible QPR with Enid, should there be a future season. Or just sit and rant with us a little bit about the utterly failed werewolf queer allegory. And we will meet you all back here, same time next week. Goodbye.