Netflix’s Wednesday Explores Themes of Latinx Heritage & Anti-Colonialism

Wednesday. Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 102 of Wednesday. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

*Snap, snap* Unless you’ve been living under a rock or completely engulfed in the holiday workflow then you must have heard by now that Netflix’s Addams Family spinoff Wednesday is topping charts and breaking records.

Portrayed by Latina actor Jenna Ortega, the modern-day Wednesday Addams has a sharp tongue that she uses not only to inflict gloom and doom onto others but to dive into anti-colonialism and to embrace her Mexican ancestry as well. 

Netflix released Wednesday in late November, and the show has already surpassed Netflix’s Stranger Things as the most-watched English-language series on the platform. 

The show’s undeniable success can be attributed to multiple factors such as the fact that it’s backed by Tim Burton. Aside from that, a bulk of its glory can be attributed to the show’s Latinx representation and ethnically accurate casting.

Throughout the show, Wednesday and her family touch on her father Gomez’s Mexican ancestry. In the series, you can catch the characters talking about celebrating Dia De Los Muertos with Wednesday herself boasting of having a large altar that she uses for the holiday. 

The plot of the series however grows around Wednesday Addams being sent off to boarding school at Nevermore Academy, a high school for those marginalized from human society including “freaks, outcasts, and monsters.” 

The academy resides in a small town named Jericho, which idolizes its founding pilgrim founders. If you’ve already watched the show (spoiler alert ahead) then you may catch that the writers are foreshadowing the climax of the first season with that name. In the bible, Jericho is known as one of the first cities in the world that hosted a religious conquest battle. On Wednesday, our heroine finishes her arc with a huge battle that becomes a defining moment for herself and the town. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In the first couple of episodes, Wednesday criticizes the local “normies” (aka humans) for building an amusement park named “Pilgrim World” to honor the town’s history. Her exact response to a group of teenagers dressed in pilgrim uniforms for work was “It takes a special kind of stupid to dedicate an amusement park to zealots who have committed genocide.”

As the show progresses Wednesday manages life adjusting to a new school while exploring the surrounding small town that has a history of hatred toward Nevermore students and any type of “freaks, outcasts or monsters,” which the show eventually reveals have their roots in the Indigenous people who were there before the pilgrims.

Whenever she can, Wednesday stands her ground by engaging in anti-colonialist language. To a group of tourists, she explains that the existence of Pilgrim World “whitewashes history” and tells a false narrative of how colonizers interacted with the Indigenous people who were on the land first. 

To add even more depth to Wednesday’s worldview, she also learns that at least one of her ancestors was part of the Indigenous locals who resisted the pilgrims. 

So yeah, it is quite amazing that after decades of production teams dancing around the Addams family’s ethnicity, it’s finally being cleared up

More importantly, a new generation of Addams family viewers is being exposed to a socially conscious, proud Latina protagonist in Netflix’s Wednesday, which only makes this spooky queen that much more iconic.

*Snap, snap*

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