Wednesday was the talk of the town when it premiered on Netflix — but not all of the discourse was positive.
The series reintroduced fans to a new version of Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) in November 2022. During Season 1, the titular character attempted to master his psychic powers at Nevermore Academy while dealing with a killing spree at the hands of a mysterious monster.
Wednesday Addams has already become a cultural phenomenon after the Addams Family adaptation was released in the 90s. Christina Ricciwho became a household name playing Wednesday Addams in two movies, stunned viewers when she appeared in the Netflix version.
Upon its premiere, the streaming service reported that Wednesday was the second most-watched English-language series.
Wednesday was finally renewed for season two after earning two Golden Globe nominations — including a best actress nomination for Ortega. Wednesday also received several Emmy nominations, one of which was Outstanding Comedy Series.
Behind the scenes, however, a series of unexpected scandals and controversial moments sparked conversation.
Scroll down for details on the drama behind the hit Netflix series:
Jenna Ortega’s Comments on the Show’s Writing
In March 2023, Ortega raised eyebrows after claiming he was “changing lines” during filming. Wednesday.
“The script supervisor thought I was, like, doing something, and then I’d have to sit down with the writers and they’d be like, ‘Wait, what happened to that scene?’ And I would have to explain why I couldn’t do certain things,” the actress said on the “Armchair Expert” podcast at the time. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to set foot on set the way I did on Wednesday.”
She added, “Everything she does, everything I had to play, it just didn’t make sense for her character. Her being in a love triangle made no sense. There was a line about a dress she had to wear to a school dance and she said, ‘Oh my God, I love this. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that, I literally hate myself.’ And I had to say, ‘No.’”
Ortega, who is credited as an executive producer for Season 2, later defended her choice of ad-libbed dialogue.
“When I arrived on Wednesday, I really put my foot down and made it clear that whatever I had to say mattered and was heard,” she shared during The Hollywood ReporterComedy Actresses Roundtable June 2023. “I’ve had experiences on TV where I felt like my voice wasn’t heard, that I should be a puppet. I’ve been told on sets, ‘You wouldn’t know because you’re not a writer’ or ‘Just shut up and do your job.’ Since I was 12, I’ve heard things like that.”
Percy Hynes White sexual assault allegations
Following Wednesday’s global success, several women have accused White – who plays Xavier – of sexual assault.
“Hey, guys. There is something I need to clarify. Earlier this year, someone I had never met started a misinformation campaign about me online. Because of this, my family has been doxed and my friends have received death threats,” he stated via Instagram in June 2023. “Underage photos of me were used and examples of me acting in character were presented as hateful. My friend Jane was falsely portrayed as a victim, and her attempts to set the record straight were ignored. She gave me permission to include her in this message. The rumors are false.”
White went on to criticize the #CancelPercy trend started by fans on social media. “I cannot accept being represented as someone fanatical or criminally negligent with people’s safety. This is the kind of harmful and unsubstantiated allegation that can create distrust towards victims,” he concluded. “It is very distressing to know that this misinformation has upset people. I am so grateful for everyone who stood by me and helped share the facts. The harassment of my family, friends and co-workers must stop please. Thanks for taking the time to read this.”
Questions about working conditions on set
Ortega has made some surprising statements about filming scenes during the coronavirus pandemic, claiming he worked while waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.
“It’s crazy because it was my first day with COVID so it was horrible filming,” she said. NME in December 2022 about the show’s dance sequence, which later went viral. “I never get sick and when I do it’s not too bad — I had body aches. I felt like I had been hit by a car and that a small goblin had gotten loose in my throat and was scratching the walls of my esophagus. They were giving me medicine between takes because we were waiting for the positive result.”
The production company behind the Netflix show, MGM, released a statement to the channel, stating that “strict COVID protocols were followed and, once the positive test was confirmed, production removed Jenna from set.”
The Show’s Emmy Nominations
TV fans had a lot of questions after Netflix promoted Wednesday as an Emmy nominee in the comedy category. The series was officially nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series in July 2023 – with some viewers feeling that other shows were snubbed as a result.
Songwriter Danny Elfman sexual harassment lawsuit
In July 2023, Elfman was sued for breach of contract for allegedly failing to make payments due to sexual harassment allegations. Rolling Stone reported at the time that Elfman allegedly sexually harassed the Grammy-nominated pianist Nomi Abadi in 2015 and 2016.
Elfman, for his part, denied the allegations in a statement.
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“How do I respond to accusations so serious that being innocent is not a valid defense? It is unbearable to consider that a 50-year career can be destroyed in one news cycle as a result of cruel and utterly false allegations about sexual misconduct,” he told the outlet. “EM. Abadi’s allegations are simply not true. I allowed someone to approach me without knowing that I was his ‘childhood crush’ and that his intention was to break up my marriage and replace my wife. When that person realized that I wanted distance from her, she made it clear that I would pay for rejecting her. I have allowed a reckless friendship to have far-reaching consequences, and this error in judgment is entirely my fault. I have done nothing indecent or wrong, and my attorneys are ready to prove with voluminous evidence that these accusations are false. This is the last thing I will say on this matter.”