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Netflix's Wednesday sure is a pretty interesting character. But why?

So why is the show Wednesday on Netflix so popular? The Netflix teen-comedy series Wednesday was released November 23, 2022 – on a Wednesday of course. The show

is centered on Wednesday Addams of the retro Addams Family TV show, and stars Jenna Ortega as the titular character. Wednesday enrolls in Nevermore Academy in Vermont… and, well, then the showrunners take over to supply the usual plotlines around friends, entanglements, the supernatural, and a series of local murders that collectively will keep us entertained for the next few years.


And it’s very very popular. According to Netflix more than 50 million households watched 341 million hours in its first week. Actually five days, not even a full week, but it includes the US Thanksgiving weekend when presumably a good percentage of viewers were asleep on the sofa in a food coma while the show faithfully played on from one episode to another. This broke the record for an English language series, but the ultra-violent Squid Game holds the overall record.


Squid Game’s popularity-plus-violence should be enough to make any writer sit up and take notice. But what’s the popularity-plus-ingredient with Wednesday?


The show’s tone and plot-lines are classic teen drama – we haven’t moved on much since Buffy The Vampire Slayer debuted in 1997. Clearly, they have an enduring popularity, even when they’re largely formulaic, as has been noted by critics complaining that the show is picked from the CW tree of teen dramas.


But what makes Wednesday watchable is Tim Burton’s characterization of her as autistic – her lack of filter and her undeniably precocious intelligence. That makes her different from other characters like Jessica Jones who are unable to fit into a vanilla world – and similar in that they’re both remarkable, very watchable, and both feminist icons. Promoting neurodiversity in film and TV is important as we teach teens – and grown-ups – to accept others who think and act differently, or who have a different sexuality, or background, or skin color. Styling these characters to be watchable and popular is central to achieving that. No point in having autistic characters who aren’t. Frankly, no point in having any characters who

aren’t.


Whether it’s TV, movies, or a book – popularity requires both substance and style. And as is the case with Wednesday, the style trumps the substance. The crucial lesson here is that if you’re a content creator looking to make an impact, you must challenge your own artistic choices around how you’ve developed your characters, and your style. If you’re writing the next great Young Adult or New Adult novel, find a way to have a fresh set of eyes look at it long before you’ve written 120,000 words that aren’t going to connect in today’s culture.

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