Tim Burton’s Wednesday – the Addams Family spinoff launching on Netflix this week – is excellent, but also pretty derivative of several TV shows, and also of a certain series about a boy wizard.
Tim Burton’s new Addams Family show focusses on Wednesday Addams – as played by Scream and X star Jenna Ortega – with Gomez, Morticia, Pugsley, and the rest of the Addams clan bit-part players in her story.
Wednesday is a teen, and her show is definitely cut from the same cloth as teen shows like Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, in that it revives and old IP, while at the same time giving it a dark and violent twist.
Smallville is also an influence, the show being set in and around a school and town where powered-up people wreak havoc. Tough that isn’t a surprise as Wednesday showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar also created that Superman spinoff.
But Harry Potter is the franchise that Wednesday most resembles, for the following five reasons.
At the start of the Harry Potter saga, the young wizard is sent away to a boarding school called Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizadry where he makes friends and enemies of both the pupils, and the staff.
At the start of Wednesday’s story, the young goth is sent to a boarding school called the Nevermore Academy, a huge gothic building where she makes friends and enemies of both the pupils, and the staff.
These educational institutions – and their respective histories – play a huge role in proceedings, with the secrets housed within unlocking the mysteries being investigated by our heroes.
At Hogwarts, the pupils are divided into houses – Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin – who then compete for the House Cup.
At Nevermore, the pupils split into cliques governed by their background, so “Fangs” are the vampires, “Scales” are the sirens, and “Furs” are the vampires (more on them later).
These warring factions compete for the Poe Cup, which involves a canoe and foot race to Raven Island where competitors must pull a flag from Crackstone’s Crypt then return without being sunk.
In Harry Potter, wizards call non-wizards muggles, with some looking down on them. Indeed, because one of Harry’s parents is a muggle, he’s sometimes referred to by the derogatory term “mud-blood,” most frequently by his enemy Draco Malfoy.
There’s also tension between those who attend Nevermore and those who live outsides the school grounds in the town of Jericho. The pupils with powers are called “outsiders” while those without are nicknamed “normies.”
There’s one “normie” teacher at the school, Miss Thornhill, who is played by 1990s Wednesday Christina Ricci. While Wednesday forms a bond with a local boy called Tyler, which causes those outsider-normie tensions to rise.
The Harry Potter stories play out in a magical world filled with monstrous creatures like giants, ghosts, goblins, elves, centaurs, and of course, the terrifying Dementors. Werewolves also play an important role in the stories, most notably Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
There are monsters all over Wednesday too, with a giant killing kids in a nearby forest, a shapeshifter prowling the corridors of the school, plus the aforementioned vampires and sirens. While Wednesday’s roommate Enid is part of the werewolf tribe, and her efforts to transform are a central storyline of the show.
And just as Harry has an owl called Hagrid who helps him out from time-to-time, so Wednesday has her own helper in the shape of severed hand Thing.
Lord Voldemort – aka the Dark Lord, aka He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, aka Youn-Know-Who – is the overarching villain of both the Harry Potter books and films. He tries to kill Harry when just a baby, because of a prophecy that says Potter will grow up to kill Voldemort.
There’s a similarly foreboding prophecy in Wednesday, which is found in a secret book, hidden in a secret crypt. An illustration in those pages depicts a figure who looks like Wednesday being responsible for the destruction of Nevermore.
But much like almost everything in the show, appearances can be deceiving, meaning nothing is quite what it seems. But you’ll just have to watch to find out why and how…
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