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.

The Anne feels

I’m doing something here now that I’ve never done before and it’s all for Anne with an E because I so very, very much want to see it renewed for a fourth season! I have really hesitated to post this as it’s all about my face and I’m not too fond of my face, but in the end I couldn’t resist the urge to show how much this show does to me emotionally and therefore also physically.

If you have read my blog these recent few weeks, you know that I am completely in love with Anne with an E (this past season 3 has been just above and beyond!) and I am completely down in the dumps over the news that it’s being cancelled. There’s been a Twitter uproar with millions of tweets protesting this end, and I’m right there protesting along! I don’t know what it is exactly about this show that makes me feel so much but it really has come to mean a lot to me. And I’m not just talking about the Anne and Gilbert central characters! Matthew and Marilla and Bash are my other favourites, I just love their stories…

I’m so addicted that over on YouTube I have been watching reaction videos as YouTubers post their reactions to the episodes. I like watching a 16 year old girl’s reactions, Michaelafied, her reaction to the final season 3 episode is here. There’s a Brit guy who goes by Trophy Muncher who is really outspoken and makes me laugh. His reaction here. And I like to see this Jay guy react as well, here. I swear, the feels they describe are real! I’ve had them too!

I know my face is an open book, so for the first time ever I wondered what I’d look like reacting to an episode. I decided to re-watch the season finale in its entirety for a second time (instead of bits here and there) and switched on my laptop camera. I never filmed it to share it, otherwise I would’ve made sure I was looking better and sitting in a better location, not slumped down in my bed. For once (and once only!) I was curious about what my own reactions would look like. In the video I look pretty awful already and by the end I look worse! The emotion is real, though… I’m not a huge fan of looking at myself, but to drive home the point how much this show does to me, even on a re-watch, I decided to post screencaps anyhow, taken from the video I made. The video is pretty bad quality, so would be torturous to watch anyhow and if I posted it, it would also give away all the spoilers for the finale of season 3. As this season has yet to air for a bigger audience on Netflix in January, I didn’t want to spoil everything. (Go ahead, stream it there, seasons 1 and 2 are already up! The more views, the more they may consider continuing it!) So, I’m posting picture reactions here that should say a lot on their own and should drive home the point how much Anne with an E needs to be continued!

Anyway, here goes: Esther reacts to the season 3 finale of Anne with an E. A tad spoilery with pictures from the episode, even though I do remain vague about what actually happens in those pictures. This post is mostly about documenting the rollercoaster ride of emotions.

The previous episode had ended on a cliffhanger, so going into this one with lots of questions. This was me during the opening scene (and yes, that is a Hobbit poster behind me. Mr Esther loved the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies as well as I did, so that’s a shared thing to have on our wall). I still look relatively put-together here. I didn’t bother with my usual mascara or anything because with this second viewing, I knew what was coming.

01 Opening scene

The next scene is at teacher Miss Stacy’s house, with Gilbert, Anne, Diana (and others not shown here):

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My reactions to that whole scene were these, fun but oh sweet torture:

Reactions to a baffling scene with Matthew and an endearing one with Bash, his mother and his daughter:

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Then came a scene with Gilbert, I reference this picture I posted before, won’t give anything else away:

Anne Gilbert 3x10 (22)

Oh my goodness, that scene was just so utterly beautiful! I’m not a religious person, but it sure looks like I’m praying!

I had about half a minute to compose myself:

12 Composing myself

Then came this scene, with something dramatic happening right before it and also a misunderstanding after it:

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Even though this was my second viewing, I was literally shaking the laptop!

Seriously, this show!!! Then came some more up and down scenes and one with Matthew that broke my heart:

Something a little more lighthearted followed, with the introduction of 2 new characters who seem like so much fun! One of the reasons we need a season 4 is to see how this develops!

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“Curfew is not a suggestion” – loved that and a scene with the girls right after as well.

This episode just raged on, with touching scenes for Bash again and seeing Anne’s friend Cole again at aunt Josephine’s house.

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And it only got more dramatic. I posted these pictures before…

Anne Marilla Matthew 3x10 (5)Anne Marilla Matthew 3x10 (8)

… and this happened while I was watching that! Yep, I ugly-cried.

I tried to compose myself, smiling while drying my tears…

… and from there the action took off (as if I hadn’t been run ragged already)! Anne had a chance meeting and yes, she looks all grown up!

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And when she turns around again with her parasol, she is about to hear something very important.

Gilbert is confronted by someone on the train (oh, how I loved that scene!)…

Anne 3x10 Confused Gilbert (6)

…and we move into a situation which literally had me throwing my arms up into the air.

Then I got feels corresponding to stuff happening here:

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Followed by feels for what happens here:

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And then we come to the next to last scene with Anne, Matthew and Marilla:

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So touching!

We end on this:

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With me looking like this and saying “This cannot be the end!”

I slowly come back to the real world, as I switch off the webcam, looking a lot less put-together than at the beginning, with shell shocked eyes and hair all over the place.

42 Back to earth

Seriously, I have loved many shows but I have rarely had a show do this much to my emotions. This finale episode was a real rollercoaster ride, with barely a second to recover from one scene to the next, and I loved it. Even on re-watching, my reactions remained extreme, so you can imagine what my first reactions were like.

Thank you to Amybeth McNulty (Anne), Lucas Jade Zumann (Gilbert), Geraldine James (Marilla), R.H. Thomson (Matthew), Dalmar Abuzeid (Bash) and Dalila Bela (Diana) for their outstanding performances in this episode. And thank you to Moira Walley-Beckett for making such an extraordinary show!

Anne Gilbert Moira after dance BTS

I am seriously addicted, especially after season 3 which was the best season so far, and I need more Anne with an E! Come on, CBC and Netflix, give us a season 4!

Anne with an E, anyone?

I have always loved Anne of Green Gables. I first really learned about it when I saw the two TV movies with Megan Follows during my teens back in the mid-1980s (Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Green Gables: the Sequel). I adored them and over the years have come back to them again and again. I have read the books (albeit a long time ago) and thought nothing could top those 1980s adaptations. I loved Anne and I loved Anne with Gilbert and her long journey to finally realise that they belonged together. Here’s a fan video someone made to refresh the memory:

Then a year or two ago on Netflix I saw that there was a new adaptation called Anne with an E, which I thought could never top the Anne adaptations I already loved. I was curious, however, and decided to give it a chance. It promised to be an adaptation with more grit and yes, I can confirm that it is. Anne, after she comes to Marilla and Matthew, is traumatized by her childhood in her periods at the orphanage and families who couldn’t love her and put her to work. The story is the same, the characters are basically the same, but yet it’s also very different. Also, as this is a real TV series (with 7 episodes in the first season and 10 in the second), Anne with an E has much more time than those TV movies to delve deeper into Anne and her world.

annewithane flower crown

The story of Anne with an E strays from the books, most notably in Gilbert’s storyline at first, but in the rest of the story too. The stories touch on issues of trauma, bullying, sexual identity, racism, loss, feminism and even educational reform and yet also weaves seamlessly back into the Anne stories we already know, with her imagination and love of storytelling at the heart of her character. It’s Anne at the end of the 19th century but also adapated to modern age issues. It’s not a hit with everyone, I understand (considered too liberal, I guess?), but it is a hit with me. Is it better that 1980s Anne? I honestly couldn’t say! They are two very different adaptations with the same core and I just love them both.

Anne with an E Cuthberts

Amybeth McNulty makes a great Anne, I love Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert…

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and I also love Geraldine James as Marilla and R.H. Thomson as Matthew.

Anne with an E Marilla Matthew

Anne’s bosom friend is of course Diana Barry, played by Dalila Bela…

Anne Diana

… and another friend, naive Ruby Gillis (played by Kyla Matthews), really cracks me up every time with her dreamy mooning over Gilbert…

Season 2 introduced the new character of Sebastian Lacroix, called Bash, from Trinidad (played by Dalmar Abuzeid) who becomes Gilbert’s best friend. He’s a delightful character.

There’s a great New York Times article on the show, with many more insights, should you care to read it. Here’s a trailer for season 1 of the show…

… and for season 2:

I recently checked back to see when a season 3 would finally happen and it turns out that season 3 has recently started airing in Canada! So, I’m tapping into that now with great excitement. The trailer for season 3:

As Anne and Gilbert grow older the story matures for them and so far the first 3 episodes have been so great that I have started making videos again! Should you want to see them (beware of spoilers!), they are over on the separate Anne with an E page I have set up under the Fan videos section on this site. The most recent, third episode was particularly heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. I am now seriously and feverishly awaiting each new episode. With Suits now ended, I guess this is my new obsession!