Even while November and December call for the holiday season, the Christmas festivities didn’t stop the Addams Family from marking November 23—on a Wednesday—as a day to yet again spread their kookiness onto everyone’s screens. Indeed, the eight-episode series, Wednesday, has finally arrived at Netflix, extending the spooky season with a modern and more edgy take on the famously creepy family. Of course, apart from the cast members’ performances, and impressive costumes and make-up, adapting the characters of Charles Addams would also require a well-executed production design. The show’s production designer, Mark Scruton, told Variety that he opted to use the original source material as his primary reference, particularly in the intricate stained-glass, Romanian forest, and shrunken head scenes.
Scruton also revealed that he did not watch the old Addams Family movies, instead opting for the single-panel illustrations from the original Chas Addams cartoons. The show’s producer, Tim Burton—known for his impressive portfolio, including Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Corpse Bride, to mention a few—has been credited with having a significant effect on the set’s design, with Scruton revealing Burton is visually “pared back”. Scruton then added, “There’s nothing in the frame which isn’t meant to be there. And the cartoons are the same. Nothing wasted.” T
he production designer also told Variety that they didn’t want the dorm room that Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) and Enid (Emma Myers) share at Nevermore Academy to look out of place. “We wanted to split it — a black-and-white side and a colorful side — but we couldn’t get our heads around how that happens without it being incongruous,” he continued. “The idea became that Enid has done it herself.” The focal point of the room is a window shaped like a spider’s web, which complements Wednesday‘s more gothic design, as evidenced by the stained glass’s church-like appearance.
With Nevermore Academy’s different cultures in mind, the show’s production designer also drew inspiration from the Victorian era. “At Nevermore, there’s lots of different cultures. You’ve got gorgons, vampires, sirens, werewolves — it’s a melting pot,” Scruton told Variety, adding: “Principal Weems’ office is the biggest example of that. She’s got the Gothic fireplace, but also a ’60s modernist desk, a very James Bond-style chair and a modern laptop. The actual room is this crazy mix of rococo and even Chinese architecture. That room was meant to be the hub of it all. The different styles come out from there.”
Scruton further explained some references from the set design, including the ones from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Beetlejuice. “In the town, a lot of the shop fronts were stolen right out of the Chas Addams cartoons. There’s a florist’s shop, a cobbler’s shop, a thrift store,” he described, adding that the metal weather vanes screwed to the wall adorn the Weathervane coffee shop. “In Principal Weems’ office, there’s a little shrunken head referencing ‘Beetlejuice.'”
The Addams Family first appeared in Charles Addams’ New Yorker comics in the 1930s, and made their television debut in the 1964 television series of the same name. Now, the famous spooky family has finally returned to the small screen. The supernatural coming-of-age drama follows Wednesday Addams as she navigates the boarding school where her parents first met. She transfers between several schools in an effort to hone her psychic abilities—and ends up at Nevermore Academy, where she will eventually solve a mystery that has plagued her family for a long time. Alongside Ortega and Myers, the series also features Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Addams, Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams, and Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley Addams, among others.
Wednesday is now available to stream on Netflix.