Anne with an E

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Anne with an E
Anne TV series intertitle.png
Also known asAnne
GenrePeriod drama
Coming-of-age
Created byMoira Walley-Beckett
Based onAnne of Green Gables
by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Screenplay byMoira Walley-Beckett
Starring
Opening theme"Ahead by a Century" by The Tragically Hip
Composer(s)
Country of originCanada
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes27
Production
Executive producer(s)
  • Elizabeth Bradley
  • Alex Sapot
  • Sally Catto
  • Debra Hayward
  • Alison Owen
  • Miranda de Pencier
  • Moira Walley-Beckett
  • Ken Girotti
Producer(s)
  • Susan Murdoch
  • John Calvert
CinematographyBobby Shore
Running time44 minutes
Production company(s)
  • Pelican Ballet
  • Northwood Entertainment
DistributorNetflix
Release
Original network
Picture format4K (Ultra HD)
Audio formatDolby Digital 5.1 with Descriptive Video Service track
Original releaseMarch 19, 2017 (2017-03-19) –
November 24, 2019 (2019-11-24)
External links
Website

Anne with an E (initially titled Anne for its first season) is a Canadian episodic television series adapted from Lucy Maud Montgomery's 1908 classic work of children's literature, Anne of Green Gables. It was created by Moira Walley-Beckett for CBC and stars Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley, Geraldine James as Marilla Cuthbert, R. H. Thomson as Matthew Cuthbert, Dalila Bela as Diana Barry and Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe.

The series premiered on March 19, 2017, on CBC and on May 12 internationally on Netflix. It was renewed for a second season on August 3, 2017 and for a third season in August 2018. Shortly after the third season was released in 2019, CBC and Netflix announced that the series was cancelled.

Synopsis[edit]

In 1896, elderly brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (who live together as they never married) decide to adopt an orphan boy to help out around their ancestral farm of Green Gables, on the outskirts of the Canadian town of Avonlea, Prince Edward Island. When Matthew goes to pick the child up at the railway station, he finds 13-year-old Anne Shirley, an imaginative, bright, high-spirited, and talkative girl, instead (an orphan since her parents died when she was a few months old, Anne lived as a servant in various households before being placed in an orphanage).

While Matthew decides he would like for her to stay, Marilla does not trust Anne, given her status as an unknown orphan and the perceived uselessness of a young girl. Her distrust appears confirmed when Marilla cannot locate a brooch, thus leading her to believe that Anne is a thief. The Cuthberts send her away, thus "returning" her to the orphanage. While she does arrive back at the orphanage, she is terrified to enter, haunted by bullying she had endured there and returns to the train station. Meanwhile, Marilla discovers that the brooch had been misplaced rather than lost and that prejudice had led her to believe Anne was a thief. Matthew consequently finds Anne and convinces her to return to Green Gables, where she is officially made part of their family. However, Anne continues to face bullying from students in the Avonlea school and class based discrimination from Diana's parents and others in Avonlea. Anne once again returns to her survival mechanisms of imagination, intelligence and problem-solving abilities that eventually lead to her acceptance by the rest of the community.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring and guest[edit]

  • Jonathan Holmes as Mr. William Barry
  • Helen Johns as Mrs. Eliza Barry
  • Ryan Kiera Armstrong as Minnie May Barry
  • Deborah Grover as Josephine Barry
  • Wayne Best as John Blythe
  • Phillip Williams as Thomas Lynde
  • David Ingram as Mr. Harmon Andrews
  • Janet Porter as Mrs. Andrews
  • Christian Martyn as Billy Andrews
  • Lia Pappas-Kemps as Jane Andrews
  • Ella Jonas Farlinger as Prissy Andrews
  • Jim Annan as Mr. Gillis
  • Fiona Byrne as Mrs. Gillis
  • Kyla Matthews as Ruby Gillis
  • Jacob Ursomarzo as Moody Spurgeon
  • Stephen Tracey as Mr. Phillips
  • Miranda McKeon as Josie Pye
  • Glenna Walters as Tillie Boulter
  • Katelyn Wells as Mary Joe
  • Jacob Horsley as Charlie Sloane
  • Taras Lavren as Nate
  • Shane Carty as Mr. Dunlop
  • Cara Ricketts as Mary LaCroix
  • Araya Mengesha as Elijah Hanford
  • Nicky Lawrence as Jocelyn
  • Lisa Codrington as Constance
  • Melanie Nicholls-King as Hazel Lacroix
  • Kiawenti:io Tarbell as Ka'kwet
  • Brandon Oakes as Aluk
  • Dana Jeffrey as Oqwatnuk
  • Ashleigh Stewart as Winifred "Winnie" Rose
  • Ines Feghouli as Sandy Baynard
  • Trenna Keating as Mrs. Pye

Episodes[edit]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedNetflix release date
First airedLast aired
17March 19, 2017 (2017-03-19)April 30, 2017 (2017-04-30)May 12, 2017
210September 23, 2018 (2018-09-23)November 18, 2018 (2018-11-18)July 6, 2018
310September 22, 2019 (2019-09-22)November 24, 2019 (2019-11-24)January 3, 2020

Season 1 (2017)[edit]

Titles of the season are quotes from Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre.

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny"Niki CaroMoira Walley-BeckettMarch 19, 2017 (2017-03-19)
Thireen-year-old Anne Shirley is a bright, imaginative orphan. The talkative girl is overjoyed when Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, the aging siblings who own Green Gables farm, adopt her. Upon arriving, Anne discovers they expected a boy. While Matthew immediately likes the girl, Marilla is determined to send her back, but changes relents after glimpsing what Anne's life would be. She agrees to a one-week trial period. Anne is determined to show the Cuthberts her usefulness on the farm. When Marilla cannot find a brooch, she accuses Anne of stealing it. Anne denies taking it, but when Marilla threatens to send her away unless she confesses, Anne claims she lost it while playing with it outdoors. Marilla sends Anne back to the orphanage, but later discovers the brooch fell in-between the chair cushions. She sends Matthew after Anne, but he arrives at the train station too late.
22"I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me"Helen ShaverMoira Walley-BeckettMarch 26, 2017 (2017-03-26)
Plagued with memories of being bullied, Anne arrives at the orphanage. Meanwhile, Matthew tries to catch up with her. Marilla, worried and anxious at Green Gables, wants to follow them, but Mrs. Lynde convinces her to stay. Meanwhile Anne has slept outside the orphanage and convinces a milkman to take her with him. When Matthew arrives at the orphanage, the matron says Anne has not returned. The milkman tells Matthew where to find Anne. They reunite at the train station where Anne recites poems for change. Anne is reluctant to return, but when Matthew calls her his daughter, she embraces him. Anne, Matthew, and Marilla attend a church picnic; Anne runs away after hearing the townspeople's hateful comments about her. Marilla finds her and asks for forgiveness. The Cuthberts ask Anne to take their last name by signing the family Bible, which she does excitedly.
33"But What Is So Headstrong as Youth?"Sandra GoldbacherMoira Walley-BeckettApril 2, 2017 (2017-04-02)
Anne is excited to begin school and make friends, but is unprepared for the bullying that occurs when she does not fit in. Marilla too, tests new waters as she accepts an invitation to join a "Progressive Mothers" group.
44"An Inward Treasure is Born"David EvansMoira Walley-BeckettApril 9, 2017 (2017-04-09)
Anne is faced with deciding whether or not to return to school, but a fire at the Gillis house and Anne's resourceful smart actions help her decide.
55"Tightly Knotted to a Similar String"Patricia RozemaMoira Walley-BeckettApril 16, 2017 (2017-04-16)
Anne must cope with the inevitability of womanhood when she gets her first period, though unprepared, she initially believes she is dying. At the same time, Marilla and Matthew acclimatize to parenthood and revisit moments of their youth through Anne.
66"Remorse Is the Poison of Life"Paul FoxMoira Walley-BeckettApril 23, 2017 (2017-04-23)
When her little sister Minnie May becomes ill, Diana runs to Green Gables for help. Meanwhile, the Blythe farm sees change, as Marilla is reminded of what she gave up and Matthew receives some unsettling news.
77"Wherever You Are Is My Home"Amanda TappingMoira Walley-BeckettApril 30, 2017 (2017-04-30)
Facing a financial crisis, the Cuthberts vow to do whatever they can to save the farm. This teaches Anne the strength of friendship and love.

Season 2 (2018)[edit]

The entire second season premiered on Netflix on July 6, 2018, before premiering on CBC on September 23, 2018.[5][6]Titles of the season are quotes from George Eliot, Middlemarch.

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
81"Youth is the Season of Hope"Helen ShaverMoira Walley-BeckettSeptember 23, 2018 (2018-09-23)
The Cuthberts' boarders stir excitement with a question: Could there be gold in Avonlea? Nate offers help to the residents of Avonlea in testing their soil for gold for $150 per property. Elsewhere, Gilbert makes a new friend at sea. Anne, Marilla, and Matthew make a trip to the beach.
92"Signs are Small Measurable Things, but Interpretations are Illimitable"Paul FoxShernold EdwardsSeptember 30, 2018 (2018-09-30)
The steamer lands in Trinidad, bringing Bash face to face with his mother and his past. The Barrys get behind the gold rush, but Matthew and Marilla decide not to spend the $150 to have their land tested for gold.
103"The True Seeing is Within"Ken GirottiKathryn Borel, Jr.October 7, 2018 (2018-10-07)
Anne goes with the Barrys to Charlottetown. There, she and Diana investigate the claims of gold in Avonlea, and are told by a journalist that a scam like this had happened in another part of Canada a few years ago, and claims of gold in Avonlea are also probably fake. Anne tries to warn the Barrys about this, but is sternly rebuffed. Mr. Barry gives all of the money to Nate, who now plans to leave with Dunlop. Anne warns Marilla about Nate and Mr. Dunlop, but the men overhear her and tie them up. They escape and notify Matthew of what has happened, and he along with his neighbors ride to try to catch them. Mr. Dunlop is caught, but Nate escapes with all the money.
114"The Painful Eagerness of Unfed Hope"Anne WheelerJane MaggsOctober 14, 2018 (2018-10-14)
Pretending she is Matthew, Anne writes letters to Jeannie to try to rekindle a romance. Matthew eventually finds out and tells Anne how hurt he is with what she has done, which devastates her. Matthew meets Jeannie in town and tells her of Anne's ruse, but that he wants to spend his remaining years raising Anne. Diana and Minnie May are being trained by their mother on how to be a lady, which causes tremendous tension in their household. A pregnant woman needs Gilbert's help to deliver her baby.
125"The Determining Acts of Her Life"Norma BaileyAmanda FaheyOctober 21, 2018 (2018-10-21)
A game of spin the bottle prompts burning questions about love and beauty. Anne and Cole bond over their differences as Gilbert makes his way back to Avonlea, bringing along Bash.
136"I Protest Against Any Absolute Conclusion"Ken GirottiNaledi JacksonOctober 28, 2018 (2018-10-28)
Anne faces the world with very short hair, after having ruined it trying to dye it. The town preps for its annual Christmas pantomime, and Anne is unexpectedly thrust into one of the lead roles at the last minute. Gilbert and Bash join the Cuthberts for Christmas dinner. A jealous Billy causes Cole to fall, who ends up breaking his wrist.
147"Memory Has as Many Moods as The Temper"Anne WheelerJane MaggsNovember 4, 2018 (2018-11-04)
Cole accompanies the girls to Aunt Josephine's for a lavish party filled with surprises. Back at home, Marilla begins having debilitating headaches, and worries that she will be a burden to Anne as her mother was to her.
158"Struggling Against the Perception of Facts"Amanda TappingShernold EdwardsNovember 11, 2018 (2018-11-11)
Marilla sees an oculist, and is given new reading glasses. Bash encounters racism in Avonlea, and meets a woman in "The Bog," a nearby place where all the black people in the area seem to live. Marilla buys back a number of her family heirlooms that she sees displayed at a local pawn shop. After being told by Mr. Phillips that she cannot go to college after they are married, Prissy leaves him at the altar on their wedding day.
169"What We Have Been Makes Us What We Are"Paul FoxMoira Walley-BeckettNovember 18, 2018 (2018-11-18)
A brand-new teacher named Miss Stacy brings unconventional methods -- and a motorbike -- to Avonlea. Gilbert's plan to speed up his studies leaves Bash feeling lost. Anne is smitten with the new teacher because she feels Miss Stacy is a kindred spirit. The boys who have bullied Cole come upon his secret building in the woods and destroy it along with all his sculptures. Cole realizes that it is probably Billy, and comes back to school and gets into a fight with him. Anne is extremely upset and consumed with the trap set by Matthew to catch her beloved fox.
1710"The Growing Good of the World"Paul FoxMoira Walley-BeckettNovember 18, 2018 (2018-11-18)
A town hall meeting is called to decide on the fate of Miss Stacy, but Anne and her friends demonstrate their love and need for her, and the town votes to keep Miss Stacy as the teacher for Avonlea. Aunt Josephine permits Cole to stay with her in Charlottetown. Bash and Mary marry.

Season 3 (2019)[edit]

The third season was first aired on CBC on September 22, 2019. It premiered on Netflix on January 3, 2020. Titles of the season are quotes from Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
181"A Secret Which I Desired to Divine"Anne WheelerMoira Walley-BeckettSeptember 22, 2019 (2019-09-22)
As Anne’s sixteenth birthday approaches, she finds herself longing to know more about her lineage, which surprises and distresses Matthew and Marilla. Nevertheless, they agree to let her go back to the orphanage to learn more, as long as she is chaperoned. Mary and Bash have a baby girl, and Marilla comes over three times a week to help them out. Diana is upset that her parents will not let her study at Queens next year with the rest of her friends. Anne writes an article about a local Indian tribe, and becomes friends with one of the girls there.
192"There is Something at Work in My Soul Which I Do Not Understand"Kim NguyenJane MaggsSeptember 29, 2019 (2019-09-29)
Anne's search takes her back to the orphanage, but they do not have records of her parents. Cole suggests they come back the following week and go the local church to see if they have any information on Anne's parents. Meanwhile, Elijah pays a visit to Avonlea, but resents that Mary has a new baby, and gets drunk. He later ends up leaving and steals some of Gilbert's valuables. Gilbert meets a pretty young woman named Winifred Rose.
203"What Can Stop the Determined Heart"Anne WheelerShernold EdwardsOctober 6, 2019 (2019-10-06)
Mary is diagnosed with sepsis, and the doctor gives her only about 1-2 weeks to live. In response to this, the Avonlea community surprises Mary on Easter with a big party at the Barry residence.
214"A Hope of Meeting You in Another World"Norma BaileyTracey DeerOctober 13, 2019 (2019-10-13)
Matthew permits Anne to continue her search for information about her birth parents, despite Marilla’s misgivings. While doing her research, Anne discovers that they did die when she was a baby, and that they were originally from Scotland. Bash tries to give Mary's letter to Elijah, but they end up getting in a fistfight. Ka’kwet is excited to be going to a Canadian school for Indians, but is very unhappy once she is there after being treated with racism and getting caned. Diana fakes an ankle injury to spend time away from her parents.
225"I Am Fearless and Therefore Powerful"Paul FoxNaledi JacksonOctober 20, 2019 (2019-10-20)
The school kids practice for the upcoming County Fair barn dance, bringing romantic anxieties to a head. The girls are plagued with fears about marriage and motherhood. Gilbert writes an obituary for Mary in the school newspaper. Jerry walks Diana home from school, and a potential romance begins.
236"The Summit of My Desires"Norma BaileyAmanda FaheyOctober 27, 2019 (2019-10-27)
Avonlea hosts the Island County Fair. Jerry and Diana become closer, while a jealous Anne lashes out at Gilbert when she sees him with Winifred Rose. Meanwhile, Billy besmirches the reputation of Josie.
247"A Strong Effort of the Spirit of Good"Paul FoxKathryn Borel, JrNovember 3, 2019 (2019-11-03)
Anne’s opinion article isn’t received quite as she planned, and the town elders ban Anne from the newspaper, and direct them on what they can and can't write about. In protest, Anne organizes a protest with her friends claiming that they should have freedom of speech. Anne and Diana get into a fight with each other, and are no longer friends.
258"Great and Sudden Change"Amanda TappingJane MaggsNovember 10, 2019 (2019-11-10)
The town elders secretly burn down the school and take their printing press. Mrs. Lynde realizes that they did it, and threatens to tell everyone unless three more women are added to the town board. The students sit for the Queens entrance exams, including Diana, who is encouraged by Aunt Josephine to take it. Ka'kwet runs away from residential school and returns back to her village. Bash's mother comes to Avonlea to help take care of the baby. Mr. Rose gives permission to Gilbert to marry his daughter, and intimates that he will help pay for his medical education in Paris. Before going forward with his proposal to Winifred, Gilbert speaks with Anne to see if she might want to be with him, but Anne is unsure what to do, and dismisses him. Diana and Anne make up and become friends again.
269"A Dense and Frightful Darkness"Paul FoxTracey Deer & Shernold EdwardsNovember 17, 2019 (2019-11-17)
The authorities come back to the Indian village and forcibly remove Ka'kwet and bring her back to school. Matthew and Anne journey with Ka'kwet's parents to bring Ka'kwet back, but are not able to do so. Anne writes down her feelings for Gilbert in a note, but the note is misplaced and Gilbert never reads it. Instead, he travels to Charlottetown to propose to Winifred. Bash and his mother argue about their differences.
2710"The Better Feeling of My Heart"Amanda TappingMoira Walley-BeckettNovember 24, 2019 (2019-11-24)
Most of the students pass their test for acceptance into Queen's College. Diana is also accepted, but it takes some time before her parents will permit her to attend. Gilbert ends up telling Winifred that he can't ask her to marry him, as he is in love with someone else. Meanwhile, Anne rips up a note without reading it where Gilbert professes his love to her. Marilla and Matthew help Anne reconnect with information about her parents. Bash and his mother decide to let a newly-sober and profoundly earnest Elijah stay with them. Anne and Gilbert eventually find out about each other's feelings, and promise to stay in touch while she is at Queen's College and he is at University of Toronto. However, Ka'kwet's story remains unfinished.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

The production companies are listed as Northwood Anne, Northwood Entertainment and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The executive producers are Miranda de Pencier and series creator Moira Walley-Beckett.

According to de Pencier, the adaptation of the novel for this television series was intended to provide a different look and feel compared to past productions; they were aiming for a "documentary level of realism", as reflected in the extraordinary detail which has gone into the design of sets and costumes.[7]

Production on the third season started in March 2019.[8]

Crew[edit]

Besides the show itself having a larger number of female characters than male, women serving as executive producer and showrunner, the series has several female directors.[9] Every writer on the series is also female; showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett scripted the entire first season, and was joined by a team of women writers in seasons 2 and 3.[10][11]

Casting[edit]

Approximately 1800 girls on three continents auditioned for the role of Anne Shirley through an open casting call. Amybeth McNulty was chosen for her ability to deliver dialogue which is "incredibly thick and dynamic and beautiful", according to Miranda de Pencier. Walley-Beckett describes her as at once "luminous", transparent, smart, soulful and emotional.[9] According to an interview with McNulty, an Irish Canadian whose career on stage has included roles in Annie, The Sound of Music, and Oliver!, and on screen in Agatha Raisin and Clean Break, her audition for Anne "consisted of talking to trees, chatting with flowers and building thrones out of twigs."[12][13]

Filming[edit]

The series was occasionally filmed on Prince Edward Island but, for budgetary reasons, it was primarily filmed in Southern Ontario, at a Toronto studio, at outdoor locations in or near Toronto including Black Creek Pioneer Village, in Waterloo Region at locations including Doon Pioneer Village, Castle Kilbride, New Hamburg, Cambridge,[14] and in communities such as Millbrook, Pickering, Hamilton, and Caledon.[15][16][17][18]

Music[edit]

The opening theme is the song "Ahead by a Century" performed and originally composed by Canadian band The Tragically Hip.[9] The series underscore is composed by Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner.[19]

Themes[edit]

While "many classic moments [of the novel] are dutifully re-created,"[12] Walley-Beckett constructed Anne with an E with "a darker undercurrent" than previous adaptations of Anne of Green Gables.[12][20] She envisioned Anne as an antihero, adding original backstories to her adaptation that emphasized the impact of bullying, class-based discrimination, social isolation, and consequent PTSD on the construction of Anne's character (themes hinted at, but never elaborated upon, in the original novel).[12][20] Walley-Beckett further states: "In this day and age, themes of identity, prejudice, bullying, being an outsider, searching for a way to be accepted and how to belong are entirely topical and super relevant, and those are themes that are built into the story of 'Anne.'" She went on to call Anne Shirley an "accidental feminist", and how she "really wanted to tell this story now".[9] Amybeth McNulty (who portrays Anne) also stated that, "people might think [the new scenes] are quite graphic ... but I think it was time to be honest.”[12]

Season 2[edit]

For the second season, according to what she called her "master plan", Walley-Beckett introduced an entirely new character of her own, Bash,[4] to reflect the racial diversity present in and around Charlottetown at the time of the novel, with a view to representing a community absent from previous adaptations, achieving this by having Gilbert travel on a steamship and meet with the new character in Trinidad: "Bash is the vehicle to explore intolerance and inequality, even more when he goes to The Bog, when he learns that other black people live there."[21] Walley-Beckett explained: "The Bog is the community that's just outside of Charlottetown, where people of color were marginalized and had their own community there."

Season 3[edit]

In the third season, topics such as identity, feminism, bullying and gender parity were explored.[8][11]

Release[edit]

The series initially premiered on March 19, 2017, on CBC and aired on a weekly basis, the season finale airing on April 30, 2017.[22] The series debuted on Netflix on May 12, 2017, under the title Anne with an E.[23]

On August 3, 2017, CBC and Netflix renewed the series for a 10-episode second season,[24] which premiered on Netflix on July 6, 2018,[5] and on CBC on September 23, 2018.[6] CBC adopted the Anne with an E name beginning in the second season.[25]

In August 2018, CBC and Netflix renewed the series for a 10-episode third season,[26] which premiered on September 22, 2019, on CBC[27] and was released on Netflix on January 3, 2020.[28]

Cancellation[edit]

CBC president Catherine Tait stated in October 2019 that it would no longer involve itself in co-productions with Netflix, as they constitute deals "that hurt the long-term viability of our domestic industry".[29] A day after the third season concluded its Canadian run and despite statements from CBC previously expressing "no doubt that Canadians will continue to fall in love with this beautiful and heartwarming series for seasons to come,"[30] Netflix and CBC announced the show's cancellation the morning after the season three finale aired in Canada,[31] marketing the season three release on Netflix as the show's "final season."[32]

Alternate reasons for cancellation were given on November 27 in response to a Twitter campaign to save the show, namely a lack of audience growth in the 25–54 age range,[33] which fans on Twitter and Facebook have challenged by questioning how CBC tracks viewers' ages. Despite the CBC indicating that Netflix had agreed that the third season would be the show's last, fans started a concerted online and offline campaign, much of it led by Twitter fans through the hashtag #renewannewithane.[34] A petition was started by fans to protest the cancellation of the show,[35] and fans also crowdfunded to erect billboards in Toronto[36] and New York City.[37][38] Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds and English singer Sam Smith also tweeted in support of the series.[39][40]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Palak Jayswal gives the entire series five out of five stars and notes that while classic works of literature are often best left intact, Anne with an E offers a useful case study of when "the remake of a classic is done better than the original." [41] She suggests that while "the Netflix adaptation is brutal," its portrayal is one that is "realistic of what life was like during the time period for an orphan girl."[41] She thus states that "the reason this show is so successful is its ability to not only bring the original story to life but to add to it in a truly authentic way."[41] Erin Maxwell concurs, arguing that in contrast to Tiger King, "Anne With an E might be the most wholesome and engaging TV show that no one in America is talking about. But it is definitely a show that needs to be consumed, discussed, and re-watched just as appreciatively."[42] She also notes that while "there are occasional changes in the narrative and attempts to be “woke,” but it wisely doesn’t derail much from the original story."[42] Chad Jones qualifies the entire series as a "cool" adaptation of the novel, noting that "from the theme song by The Tragically Hip to the assortment of timely issues – racism, feminism, bullying – that may have been hinted at in the book but have definitely been brought to the fore by creator Moira Walley-Beckett, this is not your grandmother’s “Green Gables.”[43]

Season 1[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes season 1 has an approval rating of 83% based on 29 critic reviews. The site's critical consensus states: "Anne with an E uses its complex central character to offer a boldly stylish, emotionally resonant spin on classic source material that satisfies in its own right."[44] The series has received a rating of 79 on Metacritic based on fifteen reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[45]

Emily Ashby, writing for Common Sense Media, calls the series an "exceptional" and "spectacular" interpretation, giving it four out of five stars.[46] Tasha Cerny, contributor for the Tracking Board, praises the cinematography as lush and colourful, the characters vibrant, and the plot "surprisingly thrilling for a story about a young girl living in a small secluded community in the late nineteenth century. I laughed, I cried, and I didn't expect either from a show about a little girl."[47] Gwen Inhat of The A.V. Club calls the series "at once darker and sweeter than the original" novel, praising the core cast, reserving the highest for the series lead:

Amybeth McNulty defies her youth with a performance that's less a portrayal of Anne than an absolute possession. It can't be easy to make Anne's fanciful language sing the way she does, and McNulty captures the endearing awkwardness that enables Anne to win over everyone she comes in contact with.[48]

Writing of the 90-minute premiere episode for the Toronto Star, Johanna Schneller was appreciative of Walley-Beckett's departures from the novel, bringing its subtext to the fore: "Reading between the novel's lines and adding verisimilitude, she gives us quick but potent glimpses of the miseries many orphans faced in 1890s imperialist culture."[49] Hanh Nguyen, reviewing the series for IndieWire, concurs with this assessment, saying:

Rather than ruining the series, they give the context for why Anne would be filled with gratitude for the beauties of nature, basic human decency and having a family to call her own. Montgomery had based much of Anne's need for escape into imagination on her own lonely childhood, and her stories have always had an underlying poignancy that made them all the sweeter.[50]

Jen Chaney, writing for Vulture.com, agrees, saying: "What distinguishes it from other previous Anne iterations is its willingness to harden some of the story's softness, just enough, to create an element of realism that period pieces, Gables-related or not, can be inclined to avoid."[51] Neil Genzlinger writing for The New York Times, commenting on reports of darkness and grittiness, also praises the production: "Ms. McNulty's Anne is still wonderfully ebullient and eminently likable; she's just not the one-dimensional figure of other adaptations".[52] Annie Hirschlag, writing for Mic, suggests that a genuinely contemporary Anne is bound to reflect the current television landscape and wider culture of its times (the 2010s): "Since today's entertainment is peppered with antiheroes — characters who are far from perfect, even occasionally villainous — it makes sense that Anne's familiar idealism is fringed with darkness and agony."[53]

Some reviewers were more ambivalent, mainly about Walley-Beckett's changes to the story. Canadian novelist Saleema Nawaz, who reviewed the 90-minute first episode for Toronto Life, said she enjoyed it more than she expected, particularly the set designs and costumes, as well as the performances by McNulty and Thomson, and she approved of the choice of theme song as reflective of the continued relevance of the source material. She was less sure about how far the series intended to stray from that source material, and disapproved of the "manufactured drama, such as Matthew's wild horse ride".[54] Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Isabella Beidenharn expressed similar feelings, but, "putting the source material aside, it's a fine show on its own", and she conceded that "inventing a dark side might help Anne With an E fit into today's TV landscape".[55] Allison Keene, writing for Collider, agrees that Anne is a good drama on its own terms, but allows it is "only a fair adaptation" of the novel, at its best in the home scenes: "Anne with an E is undeniably the most stylish adaptation we've ever seen of Anne of Green Gables. But its desire to reveal more of Anne's miserable past in order to be more true to what the desperation of an orphan is like feels at odds with Montgomery's story."[56] Writing for Variety, critic Sonia Saraiya is even more ambivalent, describing the series as on the one hand "a brilliant adaptation" which "succeeds admirably", but on the other hand, "the show can't quite sustain the brilliance, veering first into maudlin territory and then into the oddly saccharine as it tests out its tone", contending that "the show gets a bit bogged down in telling the story of Anne's dysfunction", presenting "a slightly soapy view of Anne's trials and tribulations that at times really humanize her and in others, are rather infantilizing".[57]

Sarah Larson, writing for The New Yorker, was not at all impressed with changes made to the story, arguing that they alter Anne's character to the point of non-recognition. While she acknowledges that bringing subtext to the fore is a fine idea, she is not pleased with the execution, saying that the result is part "the Anne we know and love" and part "untrustworthy stranger", calling the alteration and addition of scenes a "betrayal" of Montgomery's novel, comparing the treatment unfavourably to Patricia Rozema's 1999 adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.[58] Laura Finch writing for " WORLD ", agrees, saying, "...despite some of the positive feminist themes found here (like whether or not girls should go to school), it’s often hard to find the original Anne amid the extraneous storylines." [59] For Joanna Robinson, writing for Vanity Fair, a central problem with the show is that it "seems to think that in order for Anne to be a feminist figure, she has to butt up against a straw-man-filled patriarchy," and so it turned many of the male characters into misogynists, most notably the Reverend Allan, who is considered by Anne to be a "kindred spirit" in the book: "Anne with an E seems to think Anne's triumphs are only noteworthy if she's continually told she can't succeed, when in fact her unfettered brilliance needs no such clumsy opposition. It also seems to think that Anne needs a radical feminist makeover when, in fact, the story of her success was feminist in its own right." This is part of a more general problem Robinson notes, that conflicts are exaggerated and overdone: "this series thrives on non-stop tragedy."[60]

Season 2[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, season 2 has an approval rating of 38% based on 8 critic reviews, with an average rating of 8/10.[61] Hanh Nguyen writes that despite "periods of melancholy and turmoil, this season feels more energetic and subsequently lighter because of the faster pace. It also is more comfortable in its skin and handles humor in its everyday situations deftly while also poking fun at itself."[62] Allison Keene, despite her misgivings about the first season's divergence from the original novel, says it grew on her; she approves of the second season's "major shift in tone" and how, in moving away from the books and expanding the world, "it also moves towards excellence." [63] Conversely, Heather Hogan, who "hated" the first season for similar reasons in her review of the first season,[64] and despite loving the now open "gayness" of the second season, nevertheless concludes her review thus: "Anne With an E continues to use characters shoehorned in from 2018 to explain race and gender and sexuality to people on Prince Edward Island in 1908 as a way of explaining those things to people watching television on the internet in 2018. It's clunky and weird and sometimes embarrassing. The dialogue sometimes feels like it was written in an alien language and run through Google Translator. The drama is so overwrought it’s ridiculous. The characters remain unrecognizable."[65]

Meghan O'Keefe, who was "charmed" by the first season,[66] is "baffled" by the second season's choices of new storylines: "I'm not such a purist that I need TV adaptations to hit every beat of a novel, but I do think that television made for families should understand what their own core philosophy is. While Walley-Beckett's instincts are good, I think this show is too enamored with its trappings of darkness to realize that Anne of Green Gables has endured this long because people love the small specificity of the characters' lives. Warping these details for showier TV kind of dilutes the story."[67] Author Amy Glynn says "it's agonizing because it is visually lovely and incredibly well-acted sanctimonious twaddle."[68]

Season 3[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, season 3 has three positive (out of three) critic reviews.[69] Despite the series having been unexpectedly cancelled, Alici Rengifo finds that it ends on a fitting note, bringing Anne to a point of "real growth"; the finale is "all about how life does indeed go on."[70] Shannon Campe lamented: "It's hard not to feel the series was ending just as it began to find its voice"[71] even if it muddles some of its "kid friendly" messages on racism and other issues.[71] Rengifo appreciates the final season's "many little twists, journeys and a vast array of characters".

It's a shame this show has to leave, it has a classic style that harkens back to books like "Little Women," while updating the tone for contemporary viewers who could have a lot of fun while taking in a few life lessons along the way. Anne will be missed, hopefully she'll have heirs.[70]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref
2018 Canadian Screen Awards Best Lead Actress, Drama Series Amybeth McNulty Nominated [72]
Best Drama Series Anne with an E Won [73]
Best Supporting Actor, Drama R. H. Thompson
Best Supporting Actress, Drama Geraldine James Nominated
Best Guest Performance, Drama Deborah Glover
Best Direction, Drama Series Helen Shaver
Niki Caro
Best Writing, Drama Series Moira Walley-Beckett
Teen Choice Awards Breakout TV Show Anne with an E [74]
2019 ACTRA Toronto Awards Outstanding Performance - Female Amybeth McNulty Won [75]
GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Kids & Family Programming Anne with an E Nominated [76]
Canadian Screen Awards Best Drama Series Won [73]
Best Actress, Drama Series Amybeth McNulty
Best Supporting Actress, Drama Geraldine James
Best Supporting Actor, Drama R. H. Thompson
Best Direction, Drama Series Helen Shaver Nominated
Best Writing, Drama Series Kathryn Borel
Best Guest Performance, Drama Dalmar Abuzeid
2020 ACTRA Toronto Awards Outstanding Performance - Female Cara Ricketts Won [77]
Outstanding Performance - Male Dalmar Abuzeid
Araya Mengesha Nominated [78]

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External links[edit]