Wednesday has decided to nix the focus on romance for its second season, and this decision could not be more welcome. Season 1 of the Tim Burton Netflix show seemed to struggle with a bit of an identity crisis.
It wanted to be a stock standard Tim Burton/Addams Family macabre story, but it was also a teen show on Netflix and ended up buying into a lot of the genre conventions that come with being a teen drama, ultimately to the show’s detriment. If there’s anything fans of the character Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) could’ve told you about her, it’s that she certainly doesn’t need romance to make her more interesting. The choice to axe the romantic focus bodes well for the future of the show, but it would’ve been better without it from the start.
‘Wednesday’ Doesn’t Need Romance
From the beginning of the show, it seemed like they were setting up a major portion of Wednesday’s Season 1 arc to center around romance. She states that she doesn’t want to fall in love, get married, or have children. Wednesday doesn’t want to end up like her parents, specifically her mother, and she seems to have written off romance as a part of this endeavor. So, early on, the show introduces a love interest, Tyler (Hunter Doohan), who tries to break down some of these walls she’s put up. But even before we get into the romance itself, the problem starts with the fact that Wednesday isn’t a character who’s ever needed romance to make her more interesting and complex. If anything, romance holds her back because she has to accommodate another person, something Wednesday isn’t exactly known to do. Wednesday is a weirdo who loves the macabre — she actively tried to murder her brother’s bullies in the first ten minutes of the show! She’s at the middle of a centuries-long mystery and trying to solve a murder involving her parents — she has enough on her plate already.
Her saying she doesn’t need romance didn’t have to be a chance for the show to force one on her. It could’ve served as a brief acknowledgment to the audience that it isn’t something she cares to pursue. Granted, we know romance can find her as it does in Addams Family Values. However, Wednesday’s relationship in that film, even with the major backseat it takes, at least holds more true to her character because it forms from a bond she shares with another outcast willing to fight back against the system with her, rather than a normie trying to persuade her to chill out and be more normal. Even if romance was (wrongly) deemed necessary to give her more to do, the way Wednesday takes it on just does not suit the character.
The Problem With Tyler and Wednesday’s Romance
Tyler was maybe the worst possible choice for a romantic option for Wednesday Addams. The idea isn’t inherently bad —the idea of a weird girl falling for a seemingly normal guy who turns out to be even weirder than her and with nefarious intent could work… provided we buy into the romance at all. And a lot of people didn’t. The problem with Tyler and Wednesday was that the relationship always felt one-sided, but the show treated it like it wasn’t. From the beginning, Wednesday basically only sees Tyler when she needs him for something. Her mystery solving always takes priority, and she uses him (like everyone else in her life) mostly to further her own ends rather than out of any desire for companionship with him. But Tyler treats it like it’s a full reciprocated romance from day one. He gets mad when Wednesday ignores him or takes him out only for mystery solving, but she’s never done or said anything to indicate anything more than practical interest in him other than be a girl near a boy in a teen show, which is unfortunately usually enough for a teen show to call it a romance. She doesn’t respect him from the start, which is super in character for Wednesday, to be honest. But he reacts as if he’s affronted, as if he’s let down by her acting the same way she has the entire time. It’s bizarre.
His extreme reaction to her repeated lack of care for him makes sense when we realize he was only pursuing her romantically to manipulate her away from the truth of the Hyde. Tyler is trying so hard to force the romance because it helps his plan, but it still doesn’t make his anger and hurt towards how Wednesday has treated him anymore justified. It still feels out of place and forced, as if he’s reaching to make their connection more than it is. Wednesday treats Tyler about the same way she treats Enid (Emma Myers), yet he still holds all these romantic expectations for her that she’s barely even tried to fulfill and usually only because it’s convenient for her own agenda.
Let’s Be Honest, ‘Wednesday’s Other Romances Suck Too
It’s not just Wednesday and Tyler either — the whole show seems plagued with a childish sense of romance that feels completely unnecessary. There are so many more interesting things happening at this school full of freaks and weirdos, and yet we spend so much time we could have spent delving into and developing these characters on boring romantic subplots. Enid’s arc of being a late-blooming werewolf brings a lot of intrigue! And her dynamic with Wednesday is one of the strongest in the show. But we spend an equal amount of time watching a series of misunderstandings play out between her and Ajax (Georgie Farmer) when the show never takes the time to give us a reason to care about their relationship other than the fact that it expects us to by default.
Similarly, Bianca (Joy Sunday) is easily one of the most fascinating characters in the show, but so much of her early appearances are dominated by the drama of her relationship with Xavier (Percy Hynes White) and her resentment of Wednesday due to his crush on her. The whole dance episode seems to exist simply to stir up romantic drama. And in a normal teen show, that would be fine! But Wednesday was supposed to be creepy, kooky, norm-defying, and anything but boring. Instead, what we’re treated to are some yawn-inducing miscommunication and jealousy subplots that’d feel much more at home on One Tree Hill or Riverdale. It feels way too much like any other teen show for something using the Addams Family name. And that’s the last thing we want.
No Romance Is Better Than Bad Romance
The romance in Wednesday felt unbalanced, unearned, and completely unnecessary. Wednesday opening up to people was already getting enough attention through her various friendships, and that change was rewarded through closer relationships and newly built trust — rather than the complete opposite result that comes from her romance with Tyler. Her fear of marriage or becoming her parents would be much better suited to exploring her relationship with her mother since that’s where those issues stem from. Romance is just another type of relationship that pre-existing relationships already serve the same purpose as. And what did Wednesday’s romance serve to teach her anyway? You can’t trust everyone you think you can? She learned that already through various relationships she made at Nevermore.
Ultimately, the romance is lackluster and feels more like an obligation brought on from being a “teen show” rather than a desire to actually see Wednesday have a romance. The mystery and horror aspects of Wednesday have always felt much more in touch with the titular character. It’s not that romance could never happen for the character — see the previously mentioned Addams Family Values for proof of that — but that the show already had enough interesting angles to take with an antisocial outcast with a propensity for violence than to stick her in a stock standard romance. For a girl who lives for defying norms, forcing her into a basic teen romantic drama is the last thing we need. So, we can look forward to Season 2 taking on a different shape with different challenges and (thankfully) less ham-fisted romance subplots.