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 GrΓΌter-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.

Anne with an E wins five CSAs!

Anne with an E won 5 Canadian Screen Awards last night! I’m especially pleased with Dalmar Abuzeid winning because he just gives such a stand out performance as Bash…

His journey has been heartbreaking in season 3 and happily by the end of the season he seems more at peace. Dalmar deserves every award he gets for his portrayal of Bash! I have a very hard time picking my favourite Anne with an E character but from the moment he graced the screen at the beginning of season 2, Bash has been one of those favourites.

On a side note: an award should have been given to baby Delphine for being the cutest baby on a TV show ever…

I’m also very pleased with the cinematography win, because the cinematography is truly beautiful on the show.

Here are some examples (worth clicking on the images to enlarge):

Best costumes also won…

… which is also wholly deserved because the costumes are beautiful! There is a little video about that on the CBC website but I can’t embed it here so click on this link if you’d like to see a little two minute video about the costumes and the details that went into making them.

There was an award for best original music (also beautiful!)…

… and for best production design, also awesome because everything has been built and made with so much scope for the imagination (to quote Anne herself)!

There’s a 2 and a half minute video about that as well here. In fact, there are many more behind the scenes videos for season 3 that show all that went into making the series. Watch them all here if you like.

Of course Anne should have won many more awards (there were 17(!!) nominations) but I take what I can get here and even being nominated is very cool. 17 nominations and 5 wins is quite something and also a testament to the quality of Anne with an E. So, my congratulations go out to everyone involved with making such a great show!

We are now 6 months into the cancellation and I still can’t grasp why. A season 4 is sorely needed! So, please, please, renew Anne with an E someone…. anyone…

Message from my mother

My mother finally got around to watching Anne with an E after I had recommended it to her, oh, a long while back! I only found out she was watching it yesterday during a phone call with my brother who’s staying with her during this corona crisis. He too likes the show and thinks that Amybeth McNulty who plays Anne is really good. They were already halfway through season 3 when I talked to him yesterday afternoon. Then, this afternoon my mother called me and asked me, “Is this really the end of Anne with an E? They go to different colleges and that’s it? And what about Matthew? Doesn’t he die in the book and in that other show we watched in the 1980s? What happens with him now that he doesn’t die? Are there really no more episodes?”
I could hear the disappointment in her voice. Turns out she had binged the rest of season 3 yesterday evening until midnight and now she wants more.

Anne answers

And it’s not only Anne she loves, she is very enamoured with Matthew (“such a sweet, gentle man of few words”) and she loves Marilla too (“a stoic woman of farming stock with a hidden soft core”). She just doesn’t want to let these characters go yet either. Oh, how I can understand her feeling of loss!

Alas, I had to give her the bad news that the show was prematurely cancelled by Netflix and CBC. I also told her there’s a fight going online to save the show and, although I have campaigned less in the last few weeks due to other priorities, I am still definitely rooting for and fighting for a renewal of Anne with an E! My mother is 84, not internet savvy and social media is beyond her – she can just about follow what’s happening on our family WhatsApp and on Facebook but she has never posted anything herself ever in her life. Even so, she does want in on the fight to get Anne renewed and I told her I could pass her message along.

So, here is my mother’s message to the powers that be: “I am devastated (her word!) that there are no plans to renew the show for a 4th season. How can that be? It cannot end here, the story isn’t finished yet! You just have to renew Anne with an E!”

And hey, CBC and Netflix, you wouldn’t deny an old and great mother, would you? She has the biggest heart but she can be stern too, so if my mama says Anne with an E should be renewed, you’d better listen!

The Anne billboards

Very busy here of late and in the evenings not in the mood for mystery show The Stranger, even if it has Richard Armitage in it! Mr Esther and I have seen the first two episodes this past weekend, but since then he and I have not had the energy or time yet to watch the rest together. Mr Esther isn’t quite convinced yet but curious enough to watch at least one more episode. Even though it does look good, this sort of thing isn’t normally my genre, so I really need to be in the mood and even Rich can’t quite entice me yet. He will, though, and I will watch in time! Until then I am avoiding most The Stranger blog posts in order to avoid spoilers.

As I’m not posting about Richard or The Stranger, I was looking at some of my draft posts and saw this one sitting there. I’d been collecting some Anne with an E billboard images over the last few weeks and have added on a few more this evening. So an Anne post it is!

Yes, I am still following what I can and tweeting here and there in my own effort to get the wonderful Anne with an E renewed. Other fans have been way more active, though, and some of them have been crowdfunding to get billboards up with the renew Anne with an E message! The first one went up in Toronto some weeks ago.

Showrunner Moria Walley-Beckett was in Toronto when that billboard was up, she went to visit it and actually hugged it!

Next up was the fan-funded billboard in Times Square in New York City that was up for a few days. Moira Walley-Beckett was pleased with that too…

… as was Cara Ricketts who plays Mary on the show and went to see it…

Melanie Nicholls-King, who plays Bash’s mum Hazel, also went to see the New York billboard, totally pleased and on board with the renew Anne with an E message.

In addition to New York, new billboards went up again in Toronto.

Lead actress Amybeth McNulty, who happens to be filming again in Toronto with none other than director Megan Follows who played Anne in the 1980s TV series…

AB McNulty Meg Follows

… went to see the Toronto billboard for herself together with two supporting cast mates.

They came across some fans in Toronto and posed with them too.

Yet another billboard went up in Toronto again a few days ago…

And the latest billboards went up today in Phoenix, Arizona, at a mall, apparently separately sponsored by a fan.

Besides the billboards, there’s also a petition to save Anne with an E which is up to over 168.000 signatures. On Twitter the hashtag #renewannewithane is up to almost 7 million (!!) tweets!

https://twitter.com/LeaOux/status/1224443622390546434

There is no reaction whatsoever from Netflix or CBC to all of this. Where at the beginning cast and crew and Netflix and CBC were big on announcing that Anne had ended, now they are completely schtum and the words ‘final season’ have not been used anymore. Cast and crew are liking renewal tweets and billboard tweets but they say nothing else. I hope this means that things are happening behind the scenes. Alas, Netflix hasn’t answered my question about renewal, so I don’t know…

… but I’m sure hoping the silence is a good sign!