I’m not a big fan of horror, or horror-themed things. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the novelty of having the piss scared out of me, or jump scares. I just don’t appreciate the direction that a lot of horror or supernatural drama has taken in recent years, with several notable exceptions. NBC’s Dracula is a good example of a show that I’ll watch, despite its genre, because there’s more to it than supernatural angst and sexual tension. Why yes, I am throwing shade. More importantly, I try not to let to my distaste for horror be mistaken for an aversion to things that are dark, and neither should you.
Even better than things that are dark, are things that are dark and funny. I won’t bother to beat out this point, since it’s obvious. Suffice it to say that many of the best things are to be found at the intersection of creepy and kooky. So, I present to you Adult Wednesday Addams. The six webisode series is the brainchild of one Melissa Hunter, writer, actor, and comedian who has developed some other great comedy working with Comedy Central, the Upright Citizens Brigade, and Demetri Martin. Now, I’m going to get back to Adult Wednesday Addams, but to tell you what’s so great about it, I have to tell you what was so great about The Addams Family. Which is totally unnecessary, but I’m going to do it anyway.
The Addams Family was the 1938 creation of New York cartoonist Charles Addams. They first appeared in The New Yorker as a group of unnamed family members, apparently as wealthy as they were creepy, each with their own further eccentricities. I’m most familiar with the 1966 television series, the series reboot in 1998, and the 1991 film, which I think provides most of us young whippersnappers with our reference for Wednesday Addams. In each iteration of the Addams family, darkness was a tool for satire. The paranormal/horror aesthetic of each member of the family and their interactions were often direct reversals of what might expect of a wealthy, tight-knit, American family.
Yes, the Addams family is funny, kitschy, and dark, but the reversal is the most important part because it offers the idea that family is family, and that you accept one another even if you are a disembodied hand or have a tendency to smoke (literally) in front of house guests. As it developed, the Addams family became about rejecting the connection between normalcy and goodness. The idea is best encapsulated by Morticia Addams, who is oft quoted as saying “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” Aside from being badass and exactly the right kind of creepy, it’s basically an assertion that you can’t live by someone else’s definition of normal. Together, the Addams formed a delightfully mad rogues’ gallery that was terrifying to outsiders, but to one another they have always been loving, accepting, passionate, and proud. I should mention again that all this was accomplished while also being laugh-riot funny, which makes it a touch easier to accept the otherwise abnormal or confrontational—which is basically the point of humor.
Adult Wednesday Addams is not so much about the family dynamic, and though it carries the subverting-the-normal trend forward, it can rely more on dramatic irony since it inherits the audience’s familiarity with the character. That is to say that it trades on the fact that the viewer expects Wednesday Addams’s hijinks, but her adversaries (and they are all her adversaries) do not, and uses that to make hilarious commentary about the world we live in. As an adult, Wednesday engages with all the trials and bores of being a twenty-something while being macabre and magnificent. She finds an apartment, she hunts for a job, she has a one-night-stand, and conducts them all true to Wednesday Addams form. Think of the Wednesday Addams you remember from your youth, and add more running shit.
My favorite thing about Wednesday here is that she’s not so far distant from a person you might recognize as a friend or at least an acquaintance. Though she appears in front of a mysterious fog in the opening credits of each webisode, it is easy to forget this as she proceeds as an independent, confident, if creepy young woman with a unique taste in fashion, until you realize “oh yeah, Wednesday Addams”. Here’s my favorite episode in the series, titled “Planned Parenthood”. Be warned, it’s not overly politically correct, but it demonstrates how fully Wednesday still subscribes to her family credo:
Adult Wednesday Addams seems to have been a Halloween project for Melissa Hunter, having popped up in October 2013. In a special message from November, Hunter indicated that she was working on a second season, though she gave no indication when it would be available for viewing. Anyway, if you have the less-than-twenty-minutes it will take to watch the whole series, I really do recommend it. It’s deathly good.