With images and clips from the show covering the internet, and 5.8 billion minutes watched in just its first week (that’s just over eleven thousand years!), Wednesday became an instant hit. The show follows The Addams Family daughter as she enters a new school, Nevermore Academy. Here she develops psychic abilities, experiences paranormal attacks, and dedicates herself to solving a mystery. Wednesday is inoffensive and fun. I stormed through it in just three days. It is made to be bingeable, a Netflix specialty. I just have one question – why is the name ‘Tim Burton’ plastered on all its advertising?

“Reduces Burton’s style to a cheap parody”

Burton directs four of the eight episodes and is an executive producer, but Wednesday hardly comes “from the imagination” of the Edward Scissorhands director as advertised. Actually behind the piece is prolific director/producer team Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, who specialise in CW-style shows. But audiences don’t know who these two are. They know Burton. So it makes sense to scrawl his name across every poster and advert. The problem is that in order to live up to its slogans, Wednesday reduces Burton’s style to a cheap parody.

When we think of the ‘Burton-esque’, a few things come to mind. Big eyes and hollow cheeks, exaggerated suburban sprawls juxtaposed against even more exaggerated gothic images, and a romanticisation of the macabre. It is this last part, this ‘dark whimsy’, that makes Burton’s style so recognisable and so loved.

Tim Burton’s 1982 short film Vincent, the first piece of media he directed and an excellent showcase of the ‘Burton-esque’Buena Vista Distribution Co. Inc./ Tim Burton

Sure, Wednesday has some Burton hallmarks but the suburban and gothic contrast between Nevermore and Jericho are mundane compared to Edward Scissorhands’ versus Kim Boggs’ homes. The show’s monster has the large eyes that have become synonymous with the director’s style, and yet none of the eeriness Burton’s characters do. It’s only a surface gesture.

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In 2010 Burton discussed his worries about “the monsters of today” with Interview Magazine. He abhors their “little tentacles and flaps” and blames special effects and “CGI heaviness”. The monster in Wednesday is not one in keeping with Burton’s style; it’s a flat and uninspiring creature, dragged down by this so-called “heaviness”. A large-eyed monster only scratches the surface of Burton’s love of the “dark whimsy”, just as a sarcastic teenager joining a new school only stereotypically gestures towards exploring loneliness.

At the core of Burton’s stories has always been a contemplation of the outcast. Wednesday ignores this. The rather rude titular character is doted on by the people around her. Burton’s outcasts like Ed Wood or Edward Scissorhands contemplate and are troubled by their loneliness. For this iteration of Wednesday Addams, loneliness is an accent to her quips rather than an integral theme. The core project set up by the director is here reduced to a joke.

“Loneliness is an accent to her quips rather than an integral theme”

It is obvious Wednesday is not a piece made by Burton at his best, the same way neither Dumbo nor Charlie and the Chocolate Factory really were. The modern Tim Burton production holds all the symbols of his former work but in a lack–lustre and commercialised fashion. He has let his creativity be reduced to a selling point for Netflix or Disney or Warner Bros, a forty-year career turned into a slogan on a poster and a few googly eyes. Honestly, the real macabre core of Wednesday isn’t anything in comparison with a faceless corporation’s puppeteering of a once beloved director’s dead style. That’s much, much darker.