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If you’ve been on TikTok in the past few months, you’ve definitely run across the now-infamous Wednesday dance scene. Set to Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary,” it seems like the whole internet has been partaking in this kooky, spooky dance trend. Viewers have fallen in love with the newest iteration of the woeful Wednesday Addams, played by Gen Z actress Jenna Ortega, who actually choreographed the viral dance herself.
How did this trend become so popular that “Bloody Mary” overtook our For You Pages for months? How is it that celebrities like Lady Gaga herself took a stab at Ortega’s choreography? And finally, what can we learn from the Wednesday dance scene and other viral trends?
she looked so good #fyp #wednesday #jennaortega #wednesdayaddams #viral #xyzbca
Wednesday’s Woeful Dance
Tim Burton’s newest retelling of the Addams Family dropped on Netflix last November. Wednesday broke records with 6 billion minutes of viewership in its first week, leading it to become the second most popular English-speaking series in Netflix history.
Almost immediately, the iconic dance scene in episode four of the series went viral on TikTok. In the show, the original scene shows Ortega’s Wednesday at a school dance, executing now-iconic choreography set to The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.” Since going viral, creators have set the dance to Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary.” Both iterations of the trend have garnered millions of views and hundreds of TikTokers recreating the choreography!
Even Lady Gaga herself took part in the trend, recreating the Wednesday dance scene:
BLOODY WEDNESDAY #fyp
16-year old Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva joined in on the trend, performing a Wednesday-inspired routine on ice!
“Drivers License” Drama
Jenna Ortega isn’t the only Gen Z actress starting viral trends on TikTok. In early 2021, our FYPs were flooded with Olivia Rodrigo’s newest hit song “drivers license.” Many accredit Rodrigo’s seemingly overnight shot to stardom with the song going viral on TikTok. “Drivers license” quickly became Gen Z’s newest heartbreak anthem.
When the song hit the charts and began breaking records in no time, immediately a trend cropped up. Viewers and influencers alike were recreating the “driver’s license” music video scene where Rodrigo looks into the camera before falling backward to lean out the window of a moving car.
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Created by then 20-year old Mel Sommers, the less dangerous version of the trend involved TikTokers lip-syncing Rodrigo’s lyrics, mascara running down their face — truly feeling the aching lyrics of the heartbreaking ballad. On the key change, creators fall back onto a bed, now wearing beautiful dresses and full glam. It’s beautiful and Rodrigo-esque, as if saying to their exes: “this is what you’re missing.”
can this be a trend? 😳 #oliviarodrigo #driverslicense #fyp @livbedumb stream drivers license!!!!
There are over 1 million videos under the original “driver’s license” sound on TikTok. Although Rodrigo herself never participated in the trend (unless you count the song’s music video, which has amassed over 430 million views), other creators including TikToker Addison Rae have hopped on board.
we’re pretending we’re in a music video
Another equally interesting trend popped up when songwriters on TikTok began rewriting the song from different points of view. Some creators empathized with Rodrigo’s rumored ex, while some empathized with the “blonde girl” referenced in the song. Others got more creative, writing from the perspective of the road or even the driver’s license itself.
A story #driverslicense #oliviarodrigo #fyp
What can we observe from these trends?
Whether it’s the Wednesday dance scene, the “driver’s license” trend, or older trends like the 2020 “Renegade” dance created by Jalaiah Harmon, all of these videos have a few things in common.
- These trends have a “hook” or a “challenge” that has gotten influencers and non-influencers alike to hop on board. Whether it’s the urge to dress up like a Gen Z Wednesday Addams or attempting to tape their phone to the ceiling to record for “driver’s license”, something about these trends makes people want to try it themselves.
- The trend brings people together! Much like learning the “Cha Cha Slide” or the “Macarena,” learning the “Wednesday” or the “Renegade” is an act that becomes something of a shared ritual.
Jenna Drenten, associate professor of marketing at Loyola University Chicago, told CNN that shared rituals promote “a sense of solidarity and belonging.” She says that “every gesture and movement enables the person performing it to inherently say, ‘I get it, I’m in the know, we have this shared experience.’”
3. Viewers latch onto branding and storytelling — many can relate to the crushing breakup that inspired “driver’s license,” while others latch onto Ortega’s morbid characterization of Wednesday Addams.
Hop on the trend! Here’s 11 TikTok Dance Trends for Killer Moves.
The Wednesday dance scene itself has its own kind of mythos. Ortega shared that she choreographed the dance herself all in one night. She was inspired by Siouxsie Sioux, Bob Fosse, and ’80s goth dance clubs, which brought the creative, kooky, and easy-to-learn dance moves to life. Additionally, Ortega admitted a bit of anxiety surrounding the scene, telling NME, “I’m not a dancer and I’m sure that’s obvious.”
The Wednesday Dance #wednesday #wednesdayaddams #jennaortega #netflix #fyp
♬ Dance Dance Dance With My Hands Hands Hands (Speed Up) – Remix – Bella DJ
The Wednesday trend was also already backed by decades of Addams Family lore. Drenten went on to tell CNN: “To have a longer shelf life, TikTok trends have to make that leap to a cultural trend, beyond the borders of TikTok,” she said. “The ‘Wednesday’ dance had an advantage in this sense because the dance and ‘The Addams Family’ legacy originated outside of TikTok from the start.”
Feeling inspired by the Wednesday dance scene? Want to channel your inner Addams Family? Check out The Best Scary Podcasts on Spotify.
Similarly, Rodrigo’s “driver’s license” has a mythos of its own. Fans speculated that the ex who inspired the song is none other than her former Disney co-star Joshua Bassett. The “blonde girl” reference in the song is thought to be former Disney darling-turned-popstar Sabrina Carpenter. Along with the TikTok trends, this speculation had the Internet abuzz as TikTok detectives tried to parse through the “driver’s license” drama.
wait for it… #driverslicense #oliviarodrigo #driverslicenseoliviarodrigo #couplecomedy
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The Bottom Line: Audience and Authenticity
Drama aside, for the creators of these trends it all boils down to two things: Knowing your audience and being authentic.
Olivia Rodrigo knows her audience. A song of hers released in 2020, entitled “All I Want” had already gone semi-viral on TikTok. When it came to marketing “driver’s license” and her following album “sour,” she knew to tap into that fanbase who’d made “All I Want” so popular.
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In a 2021 interview with the New York Times, Rodrigo explained her writing process. She pinpointed a connection to TikTok immediately when writing the transitions in her song. She said, “I wanted people to make TikToks where they could, like, transition into it… and people did make TikToks like that! So I’m really happy about that!” Olivia’s TikTok foresight certainly paid off. “It was just crazy! My entire life just, like shifted in an instant. It was weird,” she said, gushing about her love for all creative new trends.
Ortega, on the other hand, didn’t foresee the success of the Wednesday dance scene at all! She told Jimmy Fallon, “I was kicking myself! I felt like such a fool. I’m not a dancer. I don’t do any of that. I have no experience in that field. And then I didn’t sleep for two days.”
Of course, Ortega ended up killing the dance and her choreography was a success. Viewers and creators seem to love her honesty and authenticity when speaking about the whole process; it makes her feel authentic, allowing us all to relate to the powerhouse of an actress who plays Wednesday Addams. Likewise, authenticity is what drives influencers to continue posting engaging content for their viewers.
Both Ortega and Rodrigo represent young Gen Z women. From feeling like an outsider to experiencing the sting of first heartbreak, these trends reflect the experiences of young people. Ultimately, Ortega and Rodrigo’s audiences feel seen and represented by their art, which leads them to want to join in on the trend and have some fun!