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Is Wednesday Addams a Role Model Every Young Person Secretly Needed?


I've always been fond of Wednesday Addams, especially her original sitcom incarnation. As a kid, I identified with her strongly. I was an introverted pale girl with two pigtails, fascinated with witchy stuff, and aspiring to look like Morticia Addams when I grew up (Caroline Jones is queen!) I actually tried applying baking powder as makeup. I rushed my mom off her feet shopping for the black dress when anything meant for girls was fifty shades of pink with some yellow thrown in for the bold and daring. I badgered my grandpa about teaching me how to snap my fingers properly (his snap was satisfyingly crisp and thunderous). By the way, I was born on Wednesday – not as good as Friday the 13th, but close enough.

To say that I was excited when the new Wednesday series finally arrived would be an understatement. The way this little creature of darkness became everyone's favorite rejoiced my closet-Goth heart to no end. I believe people of all generations, especially young adults have much to learn from her. However, some traits in this modern Wednesday might not be a good idea to emulate. Otherwise, you risk turning into a monster – and not in a good way.

I am yet to write my paper for some peer-reviewed journal on the good, the bad, and the ugly of Addams' influence on the young and impressionable mind, but I think I am ready to share with you my cliff notes. Get uncomfortable and be afraid.

Creepy, Kooky, Mysterious, Spooky – All in a Good Way

Watching Wednesday being her cold, defiant, deadpan self for eight episodes straight is like living a revenge fantasy for all the anxiety, cringe, and awkwardness of your high school years. She embodies the traits we all would love to have. The good news is it's never too late! Here are some admirable things that you should borrow from Wednesday's book.

She doesn't conform to expectations

"Are you mansplaining my power?"

Girls are still expected to be "nice" – polite, pleasant, and smiley. They are conditioned to smooth out all the rough ages, to sweeten up and dumb down lest they seem intimidating to a potential love interest, teacher, boss, etc. Wednesday doesn't give a flying axe about it. She owns who she is and doesn't intend to change that to please anyone – her parents, teachers, or peer group. What is refreshing about this attitude is that it's not a typical misogynistic NLOG behavior. Wednesday isn't bent on proving how different she is from other girls to stand out and gain attention. She genuinely doesn't seek this type of validation and confidently dons her authentic style, disturbing humor, unconventional hobbies, and razor-sharp intelligence.

Her independence is incredibly empowering for any teenager suffering from crippling insecurity and awkwardness – in other words, every single one. Her dance sequence was so satisfying partly because of the kooky charm but mostly because it was so free of painful self-consciousness. She unabashedly enjoys herself, owns the dance floor, and doesn't even once look around to check how others react – something we could all try out sometime.

She isn't obsessed with technology

"I find social media to be a soul-sucking void of meaningless affirmation."

Girl, don't we all? Yet we don't have the willpower to resist. Wednesday definitely does, and it's worthy of admiration. She doesn't fake her disinterest while secretly lurking on social media and anonymously stalking her acquaintances (we all do that from time to time). She doesn't even own a phone until a friend gives it to her at the end of the final episode. She channels time and energy salvaged thanks to tech abstinence into her artistic passions – writing and music. At sixteen, she is an accomplished cellist and an author of at least one unpublished novel. All this is on top of academic excellence, martial arts, and her sinister extracurricular fascinations.

I don't say we should all wipe out our phones and shut down our TikTok and Insta profiles. Yet Wednesday's example shows us that if we didn't achieve as much as her, it is probably not due to the lack of talent but rather the lack of time to properly apply ourselves. By the way, Wednesday's confidence can also result from her absence from the toxic environment of unattainable beauty standards and constant comparison.

She excels at what she does

"Terrible. Everyone would know I failed to get the job done."

She is a perfectionist in a good way – very focused and result-orientated. Whether it's Houdini-worthy escape skills, Kung Fu moves, musical performance, or knowledge of carnivorous plants, it's all or nothing for Wednesday. If we weren't so distracted by her ominous look and gallows humor, we would classify her as a typical high-achiever and nerd (gasp!) in your everyday high school hierarchy.

She doesn't disperse her attention and has her priorities sorted. It might seem a bit like narrow-mindedness, but she just knows what she likes and doesn't get detracted by people who don't get her interests. As clinical psychologist David Tzall observes, "To own your thoughts and your feelings and your behaviors implicitly is something that people struggle with." Our girl Wednesday gives us a lesson in this subtle art.

She isn't polite or friendly, but she is kind

"Hummers stick together."

Although Wednesday is aloof and says words straight to everyone's face that might be interpreted as rude and even cruel, she is kind and loyal to those she cares about. She is protective of her brother and committed to Eugene's hive code. She smiles and gets out of her comfort zone to hug when she realizes that her friend Enid is okay. She cries when she thinks she has lost Thing to a fatal wound. She respects Larissa Weems for her personal qualities even though she challenges her authority and antagonizes her for most of the series – and isn't afraid to admit that. Finally, she is the only one hell-bent on getting justice for Rowan despite his trying to kill her.

Wednesday is also kind to herself. She doesn't kick herself for every mistake she makes – just draws lessons and keeps going, which is another positive message and an example to us all.

Wednesday Child is Full of Woe

Yet, not everything is hunky-dory with our friend Wednesday. Part of what makes her so relatable and popular is that she isn't perfect. Her flaws are all appropriately dark, so they nicely play into her overall image. Yet, you don't want to emulate those.

She hides her vulnerability

"These are all traits of great writers. And serial killers."

Sending a mouse trap to smash the fingers of the editor who criticized her writing, dismissing all the profession as "short-sighted, fear-based lifeforms," and ultimately lying about her reaction ("I've always been open to constructive criticism") paints Wednesday as deeply hurt, bitter, and in denial about it. This indicates she does care what others think but refuses to show it. Yes, she might genuinely not care about appearances and social pleasantries, but she cares about acceptance where it matters to her. Writing is how she expresses her innermost self – and that's where Wednesday does need validation.

Unfortunately, however, she doesn't accept anything less than admiration – even when it comes to expert opinion and advice. There is a difference between staying true to yourself and refusing to grow, and it seems like Wednesday fails to see it. At least, yet. She is sixteen, so let's not be too hard on the girl.

She is violent

"Wednesday Addams is not the girl of your dreams. She's the stuff of your nightmares."

We do admire her guts for setting piranhas on the water polo team for bullying her brother. We wish we could all stand up for our kin (or ourselves) so boldly and zero-Fs-givingly. Yet let's be honest: no matter how disgusting the bullying is, her vengeance was disproportionately gory and dangerous. Plus, I don't think that the entire team participated in shoving Pugsley into that locker. What if it weren't the nasty ringleader who'd end up mutilated but an innocent teammate instead? It seems that Wednesday wouldn't care for this "collateral damage."

This, of course, is a grotesque hyperbole, but it still shows that Wednesday doesn't care about serving justice as much as she does about building her violent reputation capital. This attitude to violence is characteristic of gang mentality. It can hardly be seen as aspirational, even within the context of this dark show.

She likely suffers from unresolved PTSD

"Emotion equals weakness."

The way Wednesday rejects society might go much deeper than independence and introversion. It looks like she hides behind a wall to protect herself. Psychiatrist Sam Zand says Wednesday might suffer from unresolved post-traumatic stress disorder from being bullied by other children early on. We have a peek at that in a distressing incident with her beloved pet scorpion Homer. Of course, she says that the loss has taught her not to cry because tears don't solve anything. However, it looks like it also taught her that the world is a ruthless place and she can never trust others. And so she distances herself from everybody shutting people out to prevent further hurt.

This unaddressed trauma limits her world and her options. Although this angle makes her a more relatable and sympathetic character than the cold-blooded psychopath she might seem otherwise, it's still hardly a positive example. We can only hope to see Wednesday facing her demons and healing in later installments of the series, which have already been confirmed by Netflix (yippee!).

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