The Film Daily official beginners’ guide to Netflix and CBC’s ‘Anne with an E’
The cancellation of Anne with an E by Netflix and Canada’s CBC came as a complete shock to fans. The young-adult period drama has an enthusiastic international following and collected a whopping seven Canadian Screen Awards this year, including Best Canadian Drama. Canceling the beloved show wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
Anne with an E is a coming-of-age story that takes place in the late 19th century and follows the life of teenager Anne Shirley (beautifully portrayed by Amybeth McNulty). When aging siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (R.H. Thompson and Geraldine James), decide to take on an orphan boy to help out around their ancestral farm of Green Gables, they are mistakenly sent Anne.
The teenager manages to charm the siblings into giving her a try, much as she’s charmed the audience in fighting for her story.
A rally to continue Anne’s story
Fans moved quickly to campaign for a fourth season of Northwood Entertainment’s Anne with an E. A petition for the show’s endurance continues to gain traction among the show’s followers.
Additionally, a social media campaign with the hashtags #RenewAnnewithanE and #SaveAnneWithAnnE boast millions of tweets. Determined fans are also holding virtual watch parties and promise to stream Anne with an E continuously in the background of their lives.
Netflix and CBC are inundated with messages asking to resurrect the show, but an end to their working relationship has fans reaching out to Amazon, Hulu, and other streaming services as well.
A glimmer of hope
Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad), who created Anne with an E as an adaptation of the 1908 classic novel Anne of Green Gables, was one of the first to express her disappointment with the cancellation. “I will miss this show forever and a day. That being said, I’d love to write an AWAE finale feature film . . .”
While any continuation of Anne’s story is welcome, we also want to invite a new audience to appreciate the series. Here’s what new fans can look forward to as they find their way to Anne with an E.
Anne with an E challenges expectations immediately
Lovers of the original novel are in for some surprises with Walley-Beckett’s series. Orphan Anne’s past is visited repeatedly in Anne with an E, and while it isn’t discussed in Anne of Green Gables, it fills out Anne’s character more completely, and the deviations from the original become one of the show’s biggest charms.
Anne with an E clearly takes the time period and Anne’s circumstance into account when padding the story of her past. Episodes feature flashbacks into Anne’s previous foster homes and the abuse she suffered. The show’s audience is invested in Anne’s fate immediately and clings to the hope that the Cuthberts will find a place in their home for the orphan.
As Anne begins to settle into the farm at Green Gables, she immediately confronts the gender bias that could send her back to the orphanage. Anne with an E has us feeling Anne’s determined spirit as she explains to Marilla:
“It doesn’t make sense that girls aren’t allowed to do farm work when girls can do anything a boy can do, and more. Do you consider yourself to be delicate and incapable? Because I certainly don’t.” Go Anne.
Making a place for Anne
As Anne begins to settle into her new home on Anne with an E, challenges abound. Anne’s coping mechanism for her tumultuous past causes her to recede into her imagination, making her an inattentive cook. Her strong will has her insulting sharp-tongued neighbors, and her past homes made her knowledgeable on topics considered unbecoming for a young lady.
Anne with an E does an exceptional job of displaying how the snap judgments the community makes of Anne affect her despite her strong exterior. Anne’s arrival into town isn’t just met with disdain, it also challenges some of the traditional gender roles Marilla and others have filled.
As Anne slowly converts foes into friends, we get to witness the power that comes from knowing someone’s story. The previous perceptions fall away as Anne’s worldly past proves that she has many practical skills. Singlehandedly stopping fires and saving babies, Anne takes over the hearts of Prince Edward Island.
Anne with an E’s profound relationships
Anne’s kindred spirit Diana Barry (Dalila Bella) has her own internal struggles to overcome. Diana & Anne hit it off instantly, despite Diana being a member of one of the most well-respected families of the community and Anne being a lowly orphan.
Anne with an E portrays with aplomb Diana’s fight to keep her friendship with Anne even while her family forbids it. Diana’s background is a complementary foil for Anne’s, and her devotion to their friendship is one of the strongest reflections of her character.
When Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann) takes a liking to Anne, he’s in for a wild ride. Standard courtship methods like pigtail pulls get him a chalk slate across the face. This reaction to the he-teases-you-because-he-likes-you trope scratches a deep itch. Anne is our new hero even as she endures a backlash for her choice.
The attraction and rivalry between Gilbert & Anne is one of the most intriguing storylines in Anne with an E. As their characters grows in season 2, so does our love of the couple. It’s no surprise fans are fighting to see more of how their adventures progress.
The controversial side of the adaptation
One of the things Anne with an E does impeccably well is using the hangups of the past to shine a light on present-day issues.
Diana’s beloved eccentric Aunt Josephine (Deborah Grover) becomes a confidant for Anne. The conversations between the two imply that Josephine is a lesbian who couldn’t be with her true love due to the prejudices of the time. Anne emerges from her heart-to-heart with Josephine ready to become the “heroine in her own story.”
Unafraid to tackle any subject. Anne with an E takes on racism as Gilbert befriends Sebastian “Bash” Lacroix (Dalmar Abuzeid), an Afro-Caribbean worker from Trinidad that Gilbert meets on his travels. The show addresses the racism of characters directly, and Bash proves to be a charming and compelling character in his own right.
There is so much to love about Anne with an E, we wish we could watch it for the first time all over again! If you want to keep up to date with our coverage of the #SaveAnnewithanE campaign, signup for our newsletter here. We promise to send you only the most relevant Anne with an E activism emails.