It was no accident that Adams did anything on Wednesday. The most stoic and thoughtful member of the Addams family, she rarely made unnecessary gestures, including smiling and blinking.
So when, in the new Netflix series that bears her name, the spirit of the dance attaches itself to a typical bluesy teen in her school dance, it’s an instant sensation on and off screen.
This brief scene takes up less than three minutes of the entire series, but it quickly becomes “Wednesday”‘s most iconic moment because of how free our eccentric protagonists seem to be. There was a rare, brutal passion in her eyes. Her limbs are usually attached to her sides and can swing freely. To be sure, the dancing was hers—many of the harsh, raw moves and hints of past decades. Surely no one would mistake Wednesday’s dance for the latest TikTok trend, right?
There was something strange inside all of us about that peculiar dance that was faster than a fire at Camp Chippewa. The choreography segment inspired viewers to watch the series, making it one of the anchor’s most-watched shows of all time (“Stranger Things,” who?). Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” is back on the charts after its internet popularity surge more than a decade after its release, and it’s only in fan-made TikToks, not the show itself! “Wednesday” star Jenna Ortega admitted she choreographed the routine herself, inviting new fans — including celebrities — to try it out, even incorporating moves from their own culture into the routine.
If Wednesday Adams knew what her move had become, she would probably be ashamed, shudderMainstream, but her dance won’t die — and That, she might like it. That’s why the “Wednesday” dance has supernatural staying power.
The dance scene on “Wednesday” only debuted a month ago, but it already has a certain “myth,” said Jenna Drenten, an associate professor of marketing at Loyola University Chicago who studies TikTok and other How users of digital platforms express their identities.
Much of the knowledge of the scene was developed off-screen. Ortega, who plays a teenage Wednesday, has a witty black humor that she says she choreographed herself.she never mind In her influence, Bob Fosse, Siouxsie Sioux and the goth dance clubs of the 80s (she may also have sneaked references to the “Addams Family” TV series of the 60s).
Plus, Ortega’s acknowledgment that she’s not a trained dancer makes her routines potentially more appealing to non-dancers who find them on TikTok, Drenten said.
“I’m not a dancer, and I believe that’s obvious,” Ortega told NME.
But Ortega’s dedication has also sparked outrage – she told NME she filmed some dancing while awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test, which later came back positive. That prompted some to condemn the production for failing to follow proper Covid-19 precautionary protocols on set – but “Wednesday” continued to make waves nonetheless.
Viral trends that last the longest in cultural conversations often don’t stop at their platform of origin, Drenten said.Check out Kid Corn: He appeared in the YouTube series Celebrating Corn on the Cob, then a clip of him went viral on TikTok, and he’s continued to work with chili sauceGreen Giant and South Dakota to promote corn offline.
“In order to have a longer shelf life, a TikTok trend has to cross TikTok boundaries and become a cultural trend,” she said. “In that sense, the ‘Wednesday’ dance has an edge because the dance and the legacy of ‘The Addamses’ originated outside of TikTok from the very beginning.”
Another thing about the “Wednesday” dance – the human tendency to learn to dance for the sake of social currency.
Think “Electric Slide,” “Macarena,” “Cupid Shuffle”—standard moves at bar mitzvahs and weddings that many of us are so familiar with, we can perform them without thinking. Performing them collectively at such an event might feel like a Pavlovian response to the DJ’s song choices, but it’s also a shared ritual that fosters “a sense of togetherness and belonging,” Drenten said.
“Every gesture and movement can cause the person performing it to instinctively say, ‘I see, I know, we have this shared experience,'” Drenten said.
That’s part of the reason why dance routines, from “Renegade” to Lizzo’s “About Damn Time,” often dominate TikTok. But unlike those trends, the “Wednesday” dance isn’t set to become a pop song, though The Cramps’ punk anthem “Goo Goo Muck” has already won some new fans. The moves are easy to pick up, says Drenten, “simple but unique.”
But put Lady Gaga on top of the “Wednesday” dance. The version that’s gone viral on TikTok is some kind of “fancam,” or a mashup of clips, to Gaga’s “Bloody Mary,” a biblical ode to uninhibited dancing. Even Mom Monster herself performed a version of the “Wednesday” dance with two long braids.
Millions of users have since added their own twists to Wednesday’s school solo, with some users incorporating Polynesian or Indian dance styles into their versions, or making their own Wednesday looks (including that disembodied hands!).
Of course, belonging is antithetical to the ethos of Wednesday, which has never cared about fitting in. She’s very happy with her little island, where the sun shines and old-fashioned instruments of torture abound. Wednesday’s eccentric behavior has been widely copied, potentially undermining her status as the patron saint of weirdos — except that Wednesday’s style and attitude have been copied for decades.
Wednesday Adams has been around in some form since the late 1930s — first as an unnamed comic book character, then as a tiny kid on a TV sitcom, then, before the premiere of “Wednesday,” her most famous version In it, a glassy-eyed Christina Ricci. Drenten said Wednesday’s fans have been dressing like her for decades, often inspired by Richie’s image. Adams’ older child is no longer a secret her biggest fans can keep from mainstream pop culture.
Since her debut on Wednesday, she’s been an outlier icon for the loner and the goth neighborhood for her unassailable commitment to horror. Yet she remains an “outlier” among women and girls in fiction, writes Emily Alford for Longreads, because she never softens or gives in to certain story tropes. She is who she is, unchanged.
“She brought to the screen the morbid self-acceptance that set her apart and served as an essential blueprint for a generation of girls to develop their own gallows humor,” Alford wrote.
And now, with many of these girls and other users finding each other on TikTok, niche communities can thrive on TikTok (or reach mainstream users). The app is “a space for people to discover who they are and, more importantly, find other people who share their interests,” Drenten said, even if those interests involve playing some chill teenager.
“TikTok arguably facilitates a lot of copying, and users feel pressure to act, perform and look a certain way,” Drenten said. “But Wednesday was a reminder that there is a freedom in being yourself in the same ocean.”