If a show is a teen drama, it is obligated to have a love triangle — even if the love triangle doesn’t make any sense. For whatever reason, this is a tenet of the genre. Specifically, recent teen dramas of late have gravitated toward the version of the trope that tosses a very cool and interesting girl between two nearly identical boys, from Elena-Stefan-Damon on The Vampire Diaries to Dan-Serena-Nate on Gossip Girl. Netflix’s newest teen drama Wednesday is no exception.
But of all characters to be caught in a love triangle between two bland boys… Wednesday Addams? Goth icon Wednesday Addams? The macabre teenage misanthrope who enjoys torture?
Alas, in Netflix’s new Tim Burton show, Wednesday herself falls victim to this most grating of teen drama tropes, with shy barista Tyler (Hunter Doohan) and angsty artist Xavier (Percy Hynes White) both vying for her attention. But there was another way it could have gone.
[Ed. note: This post contains major spoilers for Wednesday.]
Admittedly, the crushes do seem incredibly one-sided, especially on Xavier’s end. He broods about Wednesday paying more attention to Tyler, even though she’s made it pretty clear that she’s not interested in dating. In fact, even though Tyler ends up “winning” in the end, Wednesday’s interest in both the boys is more pragmatic than anything, something that actress Jenna Ortega deliberately played up.
In an interview with W Magazine, Ortega says that she wanted to avoid any inklings of a love triangle, because it went against who the character was and what people liked about her.
“Nobody wants to see her in the middle of a love triangle,” she says. “They want to see her torturing people.”
When she first caught a whiff of a potential love triangle, Ortega confronted the writers, who assured her that it wasn’t going to be one. Still, she was suspicious and decided to play up the idea that both boys were infatuated with her and she only tolerated them when she could gain something — be it a ride to the train station or information about the mysterious monster murdering people in the woods.
It’s refreshing to see a teenage girl in the middle of a “love triangle” who isn’t swooning over two identical leads. Sure, Tyler and Wednesday do end up smooching, but Tyler also turns out to be the bad guy, so the romance really was a means to an end. Xavier’s one-sided crush is still grating, but at least Wednesday doesn’t indulge him.
The creators behind Addams Family’s many incarnations have been determined to pair Wednesday off in a way that never applies to her younger brother Pugsley. (Thanks, sexism!) But that doesn’t mean all Wednesday Addams love interests are created equal. In Addams Family Values, she had nerdy outcast Joel (David Krumholtz — yes, that David Krumholtz), who was way more interesting than Tyler and Xavier combined. In the musical, she has Lucas Beinke, who is deliberately designed to be as normal and bland as possible in order to contrast the kooky family and ends up roping around to being charming in that sort of “Just a Nice Guy!” type of way.
Meanwhile, Tyler and Xavier are clearly supposed to be cool and interesting to the point where they read as one-note stereotypes. Sure, the twist at the end means Tyler is a bloodthirsty monster (definitely more of Wednesday’s type), but as evidenced, Wednesday’s best romantic interests offer a contrast to her while still being interesting characters of their own — which means that there is already a perfect love interest for Wednesday in the show: her roommate, Enid Sinclair.
Enid is a werewolf, but when the show starts, she hasn’t been able to fully transform, which puts her at odds with her mother. This mirrors Wednesday’s own estranged relationship with Morticia. Enid loves sparkly things, bright colors, and the power of friendship. She’s the sunshine to Wednesday’s grumpy rain cloud, to pull from some popular trope language, and their relationship is the strongest in the whole show. They start out a bit frosty, clearly not too keen on having each other as roommates, before becoming tentatively friendly. Eventually, that blossoms into a deeper connection. And by the end of the show, Wednesday hugs Enid. That’s a big deal, considering she doesn’t hug anyone else.
Yes, female friendships are important, but so are female romantic relationships. For decades, Wednesday Addams has been a source of inspiration for young girls everywhere who never really fit in. And giving her a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend honors that legacy by updating it for 2022. Many fans are already sparking to this idea because it makes perfect sense! In all versions of the Addams family, Wednesday proudly rejects what is normal and standard. It would be totally in character for her to turn her nose up at the forced heteronormative love triangle and smooch her bubbly werewolf girlfriend instead.
Wednesday is available to stream on Netflix.