Speaking to Dax Shepard on a recent episode of his Armchair Expert podcast, actress Jenna Ortega shed light on her approach to Netflix’s incredibly successful comedy-horror series Wednesday, in which she played the titular character of the macabre-obsessed goth icon Wednesday Addams.
Since the show’s November 2022 release, it’s become the streaming platform’s second-biggest English-language series ever. So, it’s safe to say that fans were delighted to hear in January 2023 that Wednesday would be renewed for a second season. But, following some of Ortega’s recent revelations, it seems as though things could have gone a very different way had she not put her “foot down” after reading the script.
“When I read the entire series, I realised, ‘Oh, this is for younger audiences’,” the 20-year-old told Shepard. “When I first signed onto the show, I didn’t have all the scripts. I thought it was going to be a lot darker. It wasn’t… I didn’t know what the tone was, or what the score would sound like,” Ortega continued.
The actress went on to explain that “everything that Wednesday does, everything I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all. There was a line about a dress she has to wear for a school dance and she says, ‘Oh my god I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. I literally hate myself.’ I had to go, ‘No.’ There were times on that set where I even became almost unprofessional in a sense where I just started changing lines,” Ortega shared with her fellow actor and podcast host.
“The script supervisor thought I was going with something and then I had to sit down with the writers, and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to the scene?’ And I’d have to go and explain why I couldn’t go do certain things.”
Explaining one side of her behaviour, Ortega also revealed that she had grown “very, very protective” of Wednesday. “You can’t lead a story and have no emotional arc because then it’s boring and nobody likes you. When you are little and say very morbid, offensive stuff, it’s funny and endearing. But then you become a teenager and it’s nasty and you know it. There’s less of an excuse.”
Not only is this ballsy type of work ethic and integrity impressive from such a young actress—one that is reminiscent of Zendaya’s dedicated approach to her own career projects—but it also further proves that Ortega gives thought to every single aspect of her role as the youngest but yet unquestionably more interesting member of the Addams family.
This trait was already noticeable back in December, when Ortega had mentioned how she really felt about the Netflix series’ love triangle storyline between Wednesday, barista Tyler (played by Hunter Doohan) and artist Xavier (Percy Hynes White).
Speaking to Etalk about the dynamic, the actress divulged that she had confronted the writers about the idea, only for them to reassure her that it wasn’t going to be a traditional love triangle. “As far as the boys went, I had to accept it,” Ortega explained. “Honestly I’m going to fight this love triangle thing so hard because this is just me being protective. I don’t think Wednesday would ever be in a love triangle.”
Speaking further about the whole ordeal to MTV News, Ortega added: “Now that Tyler’s off the table, I feel like she’s off boys for a while. I feel like her and Xavier are just getting to a safe place. I think there’s an opportunity there for a really sweet platonic relationship.”
She continued: “Because I don’t think it’s shown often enough, men and women having safe platonic relationships that don’t become romantic and are just genuine, almost sibling-like relationships. I think that’d be wonderful to see.”
When it comes to different romantic tropes, love triangles are one of the most popular and recognisable across all forms of fiction. Books, movies and TV shows alike—if there’s romance involved, there’s a pretty decent chance you’ll be faced with a love triangle as well. And even more so when it comes to the genre of young adult fiction.
But on top of being incredibly predictable, which isn’t surprising considering how overdone they have become, they’re also almost always heteronormative and employ sexist stereotypes and clichés. And, on the rare occasion that a love triangle involves two women pining for the same man, the women are often pitted against each other, destroying any friendship they had to win the affections of a male figure.
That’s why it’s so refreshing and important for more individuals in the industry to speak up and put their foot down like Ortega did when faced with similar tropes that simply don’t work with a show or movie’s story yet are still used countless times because they sell.
Whether the Wednesday writers take the actress’ opinion into consideration for season two remains to be seen, but it seems like they might not have much of a choice considering the fact that Xavier’s character might not be making a comeback at all…