Wednesday and Autism Spectrum Disorder

By Dustine Bowker, DO-IT Student Assistant

Those who watched the hit Netflix show Wednesday have debated on whether Wednesday Addams is autistic. As a person on the autism spectrum, who watched all episodes of Wednesday as of this writing, I wanted to offer my personal spin on this topic.

A couple traits that are common among individuals on the Autism Spectrum include, among others, diverging from implied social rules during a particular social situation at hand, and remaining fixed over an overall objective.

Both Wednesday and I have diverged out of implied social customs in the situation at hand. For example, the typical response to “How’s it going” is usually “good.” Yet, sometimes I would share more than just “good.” For example, I would say something like, “I’m surviving; got an exam tomorrow.” By saying something besides “good,” I deviated from what may have been the usual response. Here, for Wednesday, she also deviated from the social customs at hand. For example, she sold fudge for her school’s “Outreach Day” in episode 3. When someone sells fudge, they should avoid bad-mouthing the organization that they are with. Yet, Wednesday did the opposite. She referred to the “people of the Amazon” – who supposedly “procured” the chocolate that she was selling – as “oppressed.” She also claimed that the fudge was “authentic,” with air quotes deliberately placed to suggest that the fudge that she was selling was fake, and that sales of that fudge would, according to Wednesday, uphold a “whitewashing of American history” that she felt was “pathetic”. Typically in that situation, the seller should not have said those thoughts out loud to their customers. Instead, Wednesday puts her feelings out there for her customers, agape in bewilderment over what they are hearing.

Another aspect of Wednesday’s traits – resembling an autistic trait – is her inability (at least from the beginning) to make friends immediately. Growing up in elementary school, I did not necessarily have a close friend or two whom I consistently hung out with from time to time. Instead, I was focused, and was probably fixated with, trying to simply do well in school. Here, for Wednesday, she had the opportunity to be close friends immediately with Enid, Wednesday’s bubbly werewolf roommate when Wednesday’s family managed to enroll Wednesday at the Nevermore Academy. Instead of hanging out with Enid as friends, Wednesday remains fixated on getting the sheriff of the town of Jericho to believe her in solving a murder mystery. Even to the point where she asked Enid to come help her, without regard to whether she felt comfortable helping Wednesday, let alone her safety. At the end, Enid became exasperated over Wednesday’s action and told her that Wednesday would “use anyone to get what [she] want, even if it means putting them in danger.”

There are just a couple traits that resemble autism spectrum disorder for Wednesday. Unfortunately, I cannot say definitively that Wednesday really is Autistic. However she holds traits that, at least for me, resonated because of how similar her behavior has been throughout the series. To date, none of the Wednesday cast members nor production crew confirmed whether Wednesday Addams is actually autistic. Whether Wednesday, herself, is actually autistic remains to be seen. At the same time, identifying moments of relatability with the main character are what makes shows, in my view, profoundly impactful.