Netflix’s new series Wednesday shows every sign of becoming a new hit for the streaming provider. The show, a spooky mystery/horror/comedy based on The Addams Family produced and directed by gothic grandmaster Tim Burton is garnering favorable reviews from audiences and critics alike and huge kudos for its titular lead performance by Jenna Ortega. But some have noticed that despite taking place in a school for “outcasts” and marginalized folk there don’t seem to be many …or any, LGBTQ characters. Which is causing many to cry “queerbaiting!”
Just a few weeks prior to Wednesday‘s premiere, Netflix hosted a Tom Hardy Mad Max bait meme worth event named “WednesGay” featuring queer performers and drag queens. All well and good except that not one of the many attendees of the series’ fictional “Nevermore Academy” or the population of the nearby township of Jericho, Vermont appears or reads as tangibly queer.
Wednesday and her roommate Enid — played by Emily Myers, who is arguably the breakout new star of the series — both have multiple love interests but all strictly heterosexual. This is certainly not in itself bait, but when the studio precedes it with a shout of “WednesGay!” and then excludes queer stories leaving LGBTQ viewers with little to do but hope someone gets clumsily “Dumbledored” out of the closet before any future season, then the current anger in the community is more than understandable.
Just this afternoon in yet another epic example of failing to read the room, the Netflix official Twitter posted a still of Wednesday and Enid in their room with the caption, “The opposites attract storyline we needed.” Yes, we know, “gal pals” and all that, but they may as well have had a gif of Tom hardy pointing above his head below the image.
And while it should be stated again that it is not incumbent on a filmmaker to include queer storylines by default, a studio shouldn’t take advantage of a marginalized population’s desire for representation to get them to watch a show (the ‘ships will happen without you, Netflix. Don’t worry about it). Next time throw the folks a bone if you’re going to “wink wink, nudge nudge” them. It’s what the real Wednesday would do.