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Netflix’s Wednesday

“You’re in Black and White!” Colour and Design in Netflix’s Wednesday 

The Addams Family transcends time. From its first-ever comic strip published in The New Yorker in 1938 to Sonnenfeld’s The Addams Family (1991) transforming the trajectory of family cinema in the ‘90s, the memorable ensemble will always be accompanied by nostalgia. So, it’s no surprise that Netflix’s Wednesday (2022) has broken streaming records. 

In the first month of its release, the series has been watched for a staggering 1.022 billion hours. This positions the show as the second most watched English-language series on the platform, behind the sci-fi thriller phenomenon Stranger Things and surpassing the controversial Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (2022).

In addition to its deadpan humour, the creative use of colour and design is key to Wednesday’s success. Here, provider of painting tools and decorating tips Harris Brushes offers a spoiler-free exploration into chromatics, interior design and architecture throughout the revolutionary series.  

A monochrome and multicoloured medley 

Wednesday explores the adventures of Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) as she begins studying at supernatural boarding school Nevermore Academy. Once arriving on campus, Wednesday begins to plan her untimely escape while she attempts to solve a series of gruesome murders. In the meantime, however, the protagonist is thrust into the company of Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers), her werewolf roommate with a penchant for bright colours and pop music. 

Enid is the antithesis of Wednesday. Throughout the episode, both characters are represented through creative uses of colour. The juxtaposition of their physical appearances – Enid’s multicoloured blonde hair against Wednesday’s obsidian braids – represents their contrasting personalities. True to its legacy, this is reminiscent of Wednesday Addams (Christina Ricci) and Amanda Buckman (Mercedes McNab) in the ‘90s. 

Interior design: the rise of Addamscore 

To gain a deeper understanding of their opposing personalities, all you need to do is explore their shared bedroom. Wednesday ensures their dormitory is split directly down the middle, confining all technicoloured decorations to one side as she claims to be allergic to colour. This is reflected in a full body shot, where both girls stand before their large, circular spider webbed window, either in shadow or a kaleidoscope of colours.

Wednesday’s personal space is dark, dramatic and home to a vintage typewriter. Since its release, this iconic set design has influenced viewers to incorporate gothic chic into their homes, introducing an interior design trend named Addamscore

Nevermore Academy also reflects Wednesday’s fascination with morbidity. The interior design of the castle flutters between light and dark, warm and cold, welcoming and uninviting. The hospital wing, for example, is an icy abyss accentuated with cool blue lighting. On the other hand, the grand hall in which students practise fencing is decorated with golden floors, white walls and statuesque pillars. This suggests that Wednesday is faced with a world of opposition everywhere she turns.

Cantacuzino Castle the Burtonesque

Tim Burton, influential figure and auteur, directed the first four episodes of Wednesday. His unique and distinctive cinematic style has been named the Burtonesque, seen in Beetlejuice (1988) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). The style is characterised by an expressive mise en scene, including a contrasting set design and atmospheric lighting, both of which are projected onto Nevermore Academy and its filming location of Cantacuzino Castle. 

The greyscale stone walls decorated with tangling vines, the decrepit tree in the centre of the pentagon courtyard and the foreboding forest are all indicative of Burton’s signature style. Although, despite its gothic allure on the television show, the real Cantacuzino Castle is bright, inviting and located in the Romanian mountain town of Bușteni. That’s the power of special effects! 

Wednesday may be shrouded in monochrome tones, but it’s anything but dull. If you’re a fan of snappy one-liners and enjoy decoding the visual themes in your favourite shows, tune into Netflix and watch it while the excitement continues to heighten.