Canadian residential schools

You may have heard it on the news this past week that the remains of 215 children were found on the grounds of a residential school in Canada. Residential schools were compulsory boarding schools run by the government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating indigenous youth.

I knew these awful schools had existed but I thought only in Australia. It was only on Anne with an E that I realized these schools had also existed in Canada, right up into the 1970s! In season 3 of Anne with an E the character of Ka’kwet (Kiawenti:io Tarbell), a girl from the Mi’kmaq tribe, was introduced…

… and her storyline broke my heart. Hers was the story of a First Nations girl who goes to a residential school full of hope at first but then quickly gets confronted with the horrible reality of these schools. Even though she tries to, she can not escape. Someone made a video about her storyline on the show. At one point a priest says, “God willing, we kill the Indian but save the child” and that line alone just broke my heart. It is included in this video…

The story of Ka’kwet on Anne with an E ends with her being stuck in residential school, her parents camping out near the school and Anne and Matthew going home heartbroken, vowing to start a letter campaign to get her out. Fans, like me, are seeking a better ending for Ka’kwet than she got. A Mi’kma’ki woman wrote a beautiful piece in 2019 just after the show was canceled on how frustrating it is that Ka’kwet never got a real resolution due to the premature cancelation and I’m with her. Showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett has said before that it is impossible to give Ka’kwet an undamaged happy ending as that would not be realistic and she is right. Still, I feel she would have given her some sort of real resolution had the show been allowed to continue and I still really want to see that. So yes, this is another reason why Anne with an E still needs to be renewed.

Today on Twitter Corrine Koslo, who so brilliantly plays Rachel Lynde on the show, shared this…

I’ve been watching these testimonials and it is impossible for me to grasp that these schools existed in my lifetime. Vivian, one of the women giving her testimony, is my age and the effects on her life are harrowing.

In 2008 and in 2017 apologies were made to the First Nations people of Canada and some reparations have also been made. The awful news of finding the remains of these 215 children now has brought this history to the forefront all over the world and that is a good thing. It is important to know what happened (there is some good background info about Canadian residential schools on Wikipedia) and to listen. Of course, we humans do not easily learn to be more tolerant of the other (I’m thinking specifically of Uyghur camps in China right now that are aimed at indoctrinating Uyghurs and other Muslims and eradicating their culture and religion) but I still hope that from knowledge eventually healing and wisdom will come that ends these savage discriminatory practices.

But what about Anne?

Breaking news today is that Sanditon will be renewed for a season 2 and 3 after all. It was canceled but is now being brought back. I never loved it but I did like Sanditon well enough and I am happy about the return. However, I couldn’t help but have my first thought be: but what about Anne with an E?

On my birthday a month ago showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett again reiterated that Anne will not be renewed…

That’s a bitter pill in and of itself but when I hear that Sandition gets renewed and Anne does not, the pill is even more bitter. I’m jealous and I need a hug.

Maybe PBS Masterpiece could consider Anne as well? Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for Sanditon and I will watch that with interest but it’s no Anne

Bad fan?

So, the other day the season 4 trailer for Castlevania appeared…

… and I am reminded that I haven’t even watched season 2 and 3 yet! These Dracula stories just aren’t my genre so, despite Richard Armitage’s sexy voicing of Trevor Belmont, I just can’t bring myself to watch this. I will at some point, but when?

Same goes for Space Sweepers, I have yet to see that as well. I liked seeing Richard do this little video message…

… but when will I actually find the motivation to watch the film?

I haven’t watched Arden’s Wake either (and that one’s short!) where Richard Armitage voices another role…

Not to mention all the audiobooks the man does that I don’t listen to. I am really happy for him that he can continue working and can continue honing his craft but I just wish he’d do some projects I actually want to see.

Am I a bad fan? Maybe, but I truly still love the man, I just wish he would do more projects that actually excited me. While I did watch him in Harlen Coben’s The Stranger and I really liked him in that, I didn’t find the story very good (just too many red herrings that got annoying). He is filming Stay Close, another Harlen Coben story, right now (yes, I still follow all he does). He does look quite yummy in it…

… and I will watch that when it comes out but I can’t say I’m really excited for this project either.

He has yet to film Now and Then, which is his first project since Uncle Vanya that has me perking up again. He’ll be in that with Stephen Fry, whom I like, and Geraldine James, whom I like as well and absolutely loved as Marilla in Anne with an E (I am still annoyed that show isn’t being renewed).

This sounds like it could be a properly good drama and I’m thirsting for him to do more of those.

I’m also cautiously optimistic about the The Seville Communion/The Man From Rome project, according to IMDB Richard is still up for that. I’m not really chomping at the bit for him to be doing another detective/mystery/spy story but he’ll be a priest in this one and I am very curious to see how he’ll bring that priest to life (I’m quite partial to some priests). All is and has been quiet about this project, so I really hope this one is still a go and won’t disappear into thin air as some other projects have.

So, see? There are still some Richard projects that can excite me! Nah, I figure I’m not a bad fan, just a bit of an impatient one craving some properly good projects that I can love because I know Richard can be really good in those…

A year ago…

Anne with an E was completely unexpectedly cancelled and since then fans (including myself) have been fighting to have the show renewed for at least a fourth season. The show was meant to last for five seasons but very unexpectedly got cancelled just hours after the final episode of season 3 was aired in Canada a year ago.

I admit, I have become much quieter about it in recent months, but that doesn’t mean I feel less passionately about this. I still post an occasional #renewannewithane tweet and yesterday the phrase “One year without Anne” trended on Twitter and I again joined in. That also inspired me to finish this post, which has been sitting in my drafts folder for many months now.

The petition to save Anne with an E has 1.4 million signatures by now and the hashtag #renewannewithane has been used millions of times on Twitter (not sure how many now, but back in December last year it was already up to 4 million). Billboards were up in Times Square, New York and in Toronto and even Ryan Reynolds and William Shatner have supported the renewal campaign. According to one source, the campaign to renew Anne is the biggest revival campaign in Netflix history.

I have to say I was caught by surprise at the visceral, overpowering love I developed for Anne with an E. Often it is an actor who makes me feel that way and while I love the Anne actors (these young but also older actors all do such a phenomenal job on the show!), the love I feel is all about the whole show and not particularly about one actor in it. Something just clicked for me, especially in that third Anne with an E season. Rarely, if ever, have I been so devastated over the cancelling of a show.

Why do I love this show so much, I keep on wondering? It’s tied to a love developed in my youth, I guess. I first encountered Anne of Green Gables in the mid 1980s through the very famous and popular Canadian TV films with Megan Follows, Colleen Dewhurst, Richard Farnsworth and Jonathan Crombie.

I loved Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables, the Sequel. I read the books, watched the two TV films endlessly, adored Megan Follows in the role and years later even watched the somewhat unfortunate Anne of Green Gables, the Continuing Story, even though the storyline didn’t fit the timeline of the original series at all and was a bit over the top.

I just loved the character of Anne, who triumphs despite being different and having a difficult childhood, who has a rich fantasy life, loves books and disappearing into stories like I do, who likes to right wrongs, who is chatty and warm, who isn’t perfect, has a bit of a temper. All of these strengths and weaknesses put together make her such a great character. I also love the adoption storyline, as that is close to my own experience in life (I have four adopted siblings).

After the glorious Megan Follows as Anne movies, there was a new PBS Anne of Green Gables film in 2016 with two sequel films. I thought I’d give those a go as well, saw parts of them, but those felt all off and too fluffy for me. Anne is not only chipper and imaginative but also gritty and this Anne didn’t seem to have that. Despite that, Ella Balentine as Anne was alright. However, especially Martin Sheen as Matthew and Drew Haytaoglu as Gilbert felt completely wrong. I quite like Martin Sheen, love him in Grace & Frankie, but he just is too garrulous and prominent to be a good Matthew, who is supposed to be shy, a still water and a man of few words. And Haytaoglu is just too young and childish to be the somewhat more grown up Gilbert all the kids look up to.

In fairness, I haven’t seen enough of these films to give a proper critique. They just felt too off so quickly, I couldn’t do more than skip through them. It didn’t feel like the Anne character I knew and it couldn’t in any way live up to the Megan Follows films, which were (and still are) embedded in my heart.

Then enter Anne with an E. About three years ago we started our family Netflix subscription and I saw Anne with an E advertised. I just knew that had to be a new Anne of Green Gables adaptation. Again, I was sure that it would not live up to the Megan Follows version and, after the previous adaptation’s experience, I didn’t want it to spoil Anne for me. I held off watching for a bit but then decided I couldn’t resist taking a peek after all.

This Anne version was very different from the 1980s one and from the PBS version. This Anne (played by Amybeth McNulty) was grittier and darker, dealing with the childhood trauma of her experiences as an orphan. She was annoying in a way, definitely ‘different’ and yet she was also so very Anne Shirley, who used her fantasy life to escape reality and used big words.

Matthew Cuthbert (played by R.H. Thomson) is the sweet, shy man of few words I had expected and has such warmth in his eyes and expressions! His sister Marilla Cuthbert (Geraldine James) is the gruff, emotionally closeted woman who slowly warms up to Anne and learns to show her heart reluctantly.

Anne with an E Marilla Matthew

When I started Anne with an E I expected Gilbert to make an appearance in the 90 minute pilot episode, but he didn’t. The pilot and second episode focussed on Anne finding her place with Cuthberts. I was sold during the second episode, with Matthew finding Anne after she had run away, Marilla warming up to Anne and admitting fault and Anne being adopted into the family. The ending of the second episode is just achingly beautiful.

For me the complete success of Anne would also depend on the casting of Gilbert Blythe. He made an appearance in episode 3 and he certainly did not disappoint.

Anne with an E‘s Gilbert has a different back story from the books and 1980s Anne of Green Gables, but he is the same idealist, more worldly than the other kids, and has the same fascination for Anne, precisely because she is different. Gilbert is much more fleshed out in this series, with his own sorrows and trauma, and I really like that. I instantly liked Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert, just as I had instantly liked Marilla and Matthew.

Anne’s BFF Diana Barry is played by Dalila Bela, I also liked her…

… and I loved the range of girls that became Anne’s friends. All characterisations were there, from mean girls like Josie Pye (Miranda McKeon, second from left) to dreamy, naive ones like Ruby (Kyla Matthews, third from left).

Especially Ruby and her puppy love for Gilbert just cracks me up.

And Rachel Lynde (Corrine Koslo) is also excellent. I love the contentious friendship she has with Marilla and there’s a lot of humour between them as well. Also, she has a flirty relationship with her husband, which I love. Yes, even older women can have good, sexy relationships!

Season two brings a whole new character, who is not in the books, called Bash, short for Sebastian. Bash (Dalmar Abuzeid) becomes the brother from another mother for Gilbert and has become one of my fave characters on the show.

His character brings in a storyline on racism in Canada, also shown through the character of his whirlwind love interest Mary Lacroix (Cara Ricketts)

Season two introduces an LGBTQ storyline with Aunt Josephine Barry (Deborah Grover) and a new character called Cole (Cory Grüter-Andrew).

Teacher Miss Stacey (Joanna Douglas) enters the scene at the end of season two and is a delightful, emancipated young woman who captures her students’ hearts with her unconventional ways.

The third season brings a heartbreaking native Canadian storyline with Ka’kwet (Kiawenti:io Tarbell), a Mi’kmaq girl whom Anne befriends.

So, yes, the story does diverge from the books somewhat and brings in new characters, but the original characters are who they are supposed to be in essence. Anne is the liberal heroine of the story, of course, and yet even so has her faults, as all the characters do. No one character is all good or all evil and all of them are so very relatable. I related to the teenagers in the story, reminding me in many ways of my own younger years, but I could also really relate to Marilla who struggles with parenthood sometimes and Matthew’s warm diplomacy reminded me of my own father in a way. Even Rachel, who can be very prejudiced and judgemental, has moments I absolutely love.

I think this Anne version shows how very different people are and yet how they can still find a way forward together. I also love all the issues that are addressed, they seem modern but really are timeless and fit into Anne’s world very well. This billboard that was up in Toronto expresses it perfectly…

Source

Season 3 tied up relatively nicely but also left more than enough questions for a season 4 follow up. When the finale ended I found myself already looking forward to that fourth season. No one expected the cancellation and when it came a day after the euphoria of the finale, the blow seemed extra hard. I’m a 50 year old woman and it may be ridiculous to love this show so much, which is principally about teenagers, but I really do. I love it for all the characters in it, young and old, I love seeing that time period (late 1890s) come to life and I love all the issues it tackles.

So, yes, I love this Anne, just as much as I love 1980s Anne. Two very different adaptations and both of them very good in their own specific ways. By the way, the two Anne-actresses filmed a movie together last year, with Megan Follows directing and Amybeth McNulty acting…

Anyway, a year on I am still rooting for Anne with an E to be picked up again so that it can get the conclusion the makers had originally envisioned. There is no sign of a renewal, all those involved have said that it is sadly the end, and yet I still decide to nurse a flicker of hope for a renewal, as hopeless as it still looks now.

Fictional crush challenge addendum

I just finished my 10 days, 10 fictional crushes challenge yesterday but as I am someone who develops crushes all the time, I decided on a bonus edition. So, here are some images of other fictional crushes that I’ve had that didn’t make it into the 10 days. This time I’m sticking to few or no explanations, as was originally intended.

Let me start with a daddy crush on Charles Ingalls/Pa (Michael Landon) in Little House on the Prairie

Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie) from Anne of Green Gables from when I was a teen.

I also really like Anne with an E‘s Gilbert (Lucas Zumann)…

…but he’s the age of my son, so it’s more like a mommy-crush. I keep on wanting to take care of him because he is an orphan and I keep on wanting him to be happy with his girl. I made a ton of Anne with an E (and Gilbert) videos, viewable here.

Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) in Roman Holiday…

James McKay (also Gregory Peck) in The Big Country...

Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) in The Guns of Navarone

Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews) in Brideshead Revisited

Sir Percy Blakeney (also Anthony Andrews) in The Scarlet Pimpernel

Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice should have accepted him…

Harry Kennedy (Richard Armitage) in The Vicar of Dibley

John Porter (Richard Armitage) in Strike Back….

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in The Hobbit

Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix

Alex Wyler (also Keanu Reeves) in The Lake House

Remington Steele (baby Pierce Brosnan) in the 1980s tv show of the same name…

Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan) in Laws of Attraction. For me, sexier than James Bond…

I made a couple of Pierce Brosnan videos for Remington Steele, Laws of Attraction and Love is all you need, to be seen here if you’re so inclined.

Not normally a Mr. Bingley fan but I love this Mr. Bingley (Naveen Andrews) for this scene in Bride and Prejudice. I can’t tell you how often I have seen this clip. This is the sexiest Bingley I know.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) from the Thor Avengers movies.

Doctor Lucien Blake (Craig McLachlan) from The Doctor Blake Mysteries. This is the only one on the list where I’m not so fond of the actor himself but I do really like the character and he does a great job bringing that character to life.

And finally, Sebastian Lacroix, or Bash, (Dalmar Abuzeid) from Anne with an E


OK, now this really is it and I am finally, truly ending this challenge. These were the honorary mentions; I’m probably missing a few more but it should still be enough.