I just watched Netflix’s Wednesday — and it’s the Harry Potter alternative I didn’t know I needed

(L to R) Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair in episode 102 of Wednesday.
(Image credit: Netflix)

This is probably not the article anyone associated with Netflix's Wednesday wants to see. I know that. But while I binge-watched the series in a much shorter time than I expected (more on why I thought I'd let it languish later), I came to a startling realization.

Yes, it was kinda obvious that the Wednesday series isn't meant to be an Addams Family sequel — just a re-positioning of some characters into a format that was more in Netflix's style. And it's proven so successful that it beat Stranger Things season 4's opening week numbers (opens in new tab) for minutes watched on Netflix, a solid feat considering Wednesday's eight episodes total 392 minutes, while Stranger Things 4 part 1 (the portion that is #2 on the all-time charts, behind Squid Game) runs for 547 minutes. All three are among the best Netflix shows, but don't make me put them in any order.

Wednesday is scratching an itch that only a young Mr. Potter used to. I'm not in any position to say it's the first show or movie to come out since the eight Harry Potter movies that bears a resemblance to them (The School for Good and Evil is the most recent to bear a resemblance plot-wise). But this is the first that I've actually tuned in for a Harry Potter successor that truly hooked me.

So, if you've been wary of Wednesday — I get it, it looks a little too much like a The CW show, and one of its casting choices is basically me-repellent — allow me to explain how I found myself desperate for the inevitable Wednesday season 2.

Also, this is a completely spoiler-free story, as I'm going to write in in ways that hide all the neat little surprises I found in Wednesday.

Wednesday arrived just when I needed it

I read and watched all the original Harry Potter books and movies, but couldn't even think about watching the 20th Anniversary reunion special that's on HBO Max. And I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

Poster for Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

(Image credit: HBO Ma)

Yes, I'm one of those people who was heavily into Harry Potter. I went to midnight release parties for those books. I stayed up even later reading those books, and I went to see all the movies in theaters. Despite it all being a little too childish for me, I didn't care. 

But while those words written by author J.K. Rowling appealed to me, the author's written opinions on transgender people and their rights since 2019 alienated me completely — so much so that I can't even watch the movies, which is a point of frustration for my parents, who love to watch them during the holiday season. I'm hoping I can turn them onto Wednesday.

Wednesday does school rivalries right

(L to R) Moosa Mostafa as Eugene Otinger, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams, Naomi j Ogawa as Yoko Tanaka, Joy Sunday as Bianca Barclay in episode 103 of Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

I don't know how I overlooked the colorful striped uniforms of Wednesday Addams' new school — Nevermore Academy, where her parents met — which is the first big sign that Netflix's Wednesday would appeal to someone who knows all four houses of Hogwarts.

I started to realize things around the time of The Poe Cup in Wednesday episode 2., though, when the Nevermore school's factions compete in a situation very similar to the Triwizard Tournament from the Goblet of Fire. 

This is where I need to be honest about how easily swayed I am: if you put groups of rival kids from the same school in a tournament for a trophy? I am more likely than not to be extremely interested. And then the actual events were delightfully-deviously played. There are no rules, so everybody gets to "cheat" and it's all a delight.

Wednesday's high school friendships actually work

Wednesday's roommate Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers) is one of those characters who's probably supposed to annoy you until you can't imagine the show without them. Or at least, that's the process I had in the first episode alone. 

The hyper-colorful Ms. Sinclair doesn't get along with her new roomie, and is so obsessed with her own blog and the social strata of Nevermore that you too may wonder "who did Wednesday roast-alive in a past life to get Enid for a roommate?"

Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair in Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

This is a far cry from how Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) first reacted to early friends Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), but this friendship still reminded me of the Potter-verse. 

Too alive to be Moaning Myrtle (Shirley Henderson), Enid reminds me of Luna Lovegood (and she even bears a resemblance to Evanna Lynch's character). Both characters seem a bit esoteric upon first blush, but once you learn about Enid's backstory, you'll root for her too. Maybe that back story is a little too quickly explained, I'll admit — but it worked regardless.

(L to R) Moosa Mostafa as Eugene Otinger, Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in episode 104 of Wednesday

(Image credit: Netflix)

My favorite Nevermore student, though, is the bee-obsessed Eugene Otinger (Moosa Mostafa). He's not popular — if a show names a character Eugene, expect the bullying to continue until a hero's journey ensues — but he sure is likeable.

Eugene is somewhere between Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Harry himself, picked on wrongly, and utterly likable. Then, you have the brooding romantic interest Xavier (Percy Hynes White) and the smiley coffee shop romantic interest Tyler (Hunter Doohan). Both feel more Twilight than Harry Potter, but they're passable. 

Wednesday's apparent rival, Bianca (Joy Sunday), who is also Xavier's ex, has a sharp sense of humor and is a perfect foil. She's a better Draco, I'd say.

Joy Sunday as Bianca Barclay in Wednesday

(Image credit: VLAD CIOPLEA / Netflix)

What Wednesday gets wrong

Most of the adults in Wednesday, are either good, great or smashing successes. Gwendoline Christie is excellent as Nevermore principal Larissa Weems. Catherine Zeta-Jones is a capable Morticia Adams. Luis Guzmán, as was predicted, is a perfect Gomez Addams. Whomever cast him deserves a raise.

But then there's Uncle Fester. Or, should I say, Fred Armisen playing Fred Armisen dressed as Uncle Fester. Not since the majority of Will Smith's career has an actor done so little to hide their normal shtick while playing an iconic figure.

Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester in Wednesday

(Image credit: VLAD CIOPLEA/NETFLIX)

And maybe I just have Armisen exhaustion, but this "take" on Fester did absolutely nothing for me. Fortunately, he's used very minimally.

Outlook: I would be OK with 8 seasons of Wednesday

Wednesday the show hasn't hit the highs of the Harry Potter movies or books yet, but I enjoyed its eight-episode first run, and look forward to many more.

If they can make eight movies out of the Harry Potter books, I feel like we can get eight seasons of Wednesday. And it certainly seems possible. Wednesday doesn't seem like a Freshman (heck, each season could be its own semester, and then summer breaks as their own seasons).

That said, based on the above ratings, I imagine Netflix will want it to be Wednesday forever. Only time will tell, though. But for anyone who's been looking for something like Harry Potter, only swapping in a goth teen for the bespectacled boy who lived? I can assure you that you'll be happy to swap your wand-waving for finger-snapping.

Next: These are the 7 best shows and movies to watch while you wait for Wednesday season 2. Need more recommendations? These are the 7 best new Netflix movies that are 90% or higher on Rotten Tomatoes, and we've also got the best new movies on HBO Max, Netflix and more this week, which finds George Clooney and Julia Roberts reunited.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.