Netflix’s ‘Wednesday’ brings back to the screen one of the most prominent pop-culture families of all time. The ‘Addams Family’ was originally created by American cartoonist Charles Addams as a satirical reflection on the concept of the perfect 20th-century American family. Its members are wealthy unconventional elites with a penchant for macabre. Since the family’s inception in 1938, the Addams family franchise has expanded exponentially and now includes books, TV shows, video games, plays, and films. And each of these renditions interprets these characters in its own unique way.
For instance, Wednesday Addams has undergone multiple interpretations over the years. But two of those — the 1990s ‘Addams Family’ films and the Netflix series — stand out as they seem to underscore that the character might have Autism Spectrum disorder. Here is everything you need to know about it.
Does Wednesday Have Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Despite the large amount of Addams Family-related content released over the years, none of them seems to have openly acknowledged that Wednesday might be in the spectrum. However, aspects of the 1990s films and the Netflix series do point in that direction.
In ‘The Adams Family’ (1991), Christina Ricci’s portrayal of the character is a celebration of her uniqueness. She is surrounded by her family members, who are as unconventional as her. So, this unconventionality serves as the norm. That changes in ‘Addams Family Values’ (1993), in which Wednesday and her brother Pugsley attend a summer camp, where they stand out and are alienated by the other children. It is when they act cheerful that they are allowed to participate in group activities. But then, true to the form, Wednesday reveals her cheerfulness was an act all along.
In ‘Wednesday,’ this aspect is further explored, but again in a relatively subtle manner. The Nevermore Academy is a special school for “outcasts,” a term that can be viewed as a code for people on the spectrum. They are judged and discriminated against by the normies, the rest of the population. The massive variety in how the special abilities manifest in different outcasts can also be seen as a metaphor for the spectrum itself.
In ‘Wednesday,’ Jenna Ortega portrays the character. Both her and Ricci’s renditions demonstrate some aspects of the personality of the people on the spectrum. Wednesday is blunt and brutally honest to a fault, sometimes frustrating even the other outcasts. She seems to have some issues connecting with her peers at school, claiming that she is disinterested. It takes active efforts from others to be friends with her. She generally disregards social cues, though this doesn’t always stem from her ability to understand them but from a complete disinterest.
In an interview with the Empire magazine, series director Tim Burton said that it was how the main character interacted with the world around her that piqued his interest in the project. “When I read this [script],” he stated, “it just spoke to me about how I felt in school and how you feel about your parents, how you feel as a person. It gave the Addams Family a different kind of reality. It was an interesting combination.”
Although Burton was never diagnosed, the esteemed filmmaker reportedly is on the spectrum, according to his former partner Helena Bonham Carter. The Netflix series, with Burton and his co-creators at the helm, celebrate Wednesday’s unconventionality by placing her in more than 90% of the scenes.
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