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How “Wednesday” Pays Tribute to Goth Culture

Netflix’s newest hit series “Wednesday”, directed by Tim Burton, has officially revived the world’s love for the Addams Family. Jenna Ortega’s role as the delightfully dreadful Wednesday Addams has earned much praise from fans and critics alike, who champion Ortega’s expert ability to bring Wednesday’s apathetic, dark-humored persona to a new generation of viewers–and as someone who’s just begun the show, I’d have to agree with that assessment. But what endears me most about “Wednesday” are the ways in which the show, mainly through its titular character, pays homage to the oft-misrepresented subculture of goth.

First, I’d like to explain a little about the history of goth. The gothic subculture was born in early 1980s England when the rise of punk music birthed post-punk. Gothic rock later came about as an offshoot of post-punk and gained rapid influence as its darker, broodier cousin. The gothic rock scene invokes aesthetics from 19th-century Mary Shelley-esque gothic fiction and horror films, and the first fans of the genre, who bonded over a shared love of everything dark, became the progenitors of the gothic subculture. 

Of course, stereotypes about goths as depressed loners–or better yet, freakish Satanic cultists–were plentiful in the decades that followed, but the true goth philosophy of finding beauty in the macabre has never once wavered in the face of mainstream disapproval. And it’s a philosophy that Wednesday Addams embodies very well, as shown in her rejection of anything a “normal” girl from a “normal” family would do at her age.

But aside from her death-obsessed, against-the-grain tendencies, Burton’s Wednesday also embodies goth through her fashion. Not a single drop of color exists in her wardrobe aside from black and white, and for the more hardcore goths out there, that’s just common (fashion) sense. While Wednesday may not have the more extreme goth aesthetics of heavy black makeup and teased hair that reaches the heavens, her outfits are more than enough to maintain her long-held spot in the goth community.

Finally, the show’s most evident nod to goth culture is Wednesday’s prom dance sequence. Yes, the one all over TikTok, which shows Wednesday dancing with a deadpan, almost mechanical flamboyance at her school’s prom to Mahlote’s “Putty”. Many fans commented on social media that they felt off-put by the character’s “weird” and jerky movements, with commenters even saying that the scene gave them second-hand embarrassment. 

But Jenna Ortega, who choreographed the scene herself, came forward to clarify that those moves were pulled directly from real goth club-goers in the 80s: 

“I just pulled inspiration from videos of goth kids dancing in clubs in the ’80s,” Ortega stated in a recent interview with Vulture. “Lene Lovich music videos, Siouxsie and the Banshees performances, and Fosse.”

And there it is. Through her black-clad uniforms, dancing, and unabashed love for things most people would recoil at the thought of, Wednesday Addams is a bonafide goth icon.

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