“Anne With An E” Review


Image courtesy of Cheri A. Von Schnauzer via Flickr

Amybeth McNulty stars as 13 year old Anne Shirley in the Netflix/CBC series Anne With An E.

Bushra Syed

“If all the world hated you and believed you wicked, but your own conscience approved you and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.” These words were spoken by Helen Burns, a fictional character in the classic novel Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. This powerful quote was referenced in Netflix’s Anne With An E, one of my favorite shows by far.

Based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s beloved book series, Anne With An E is its most recent adaptation and centers on a young orphan girl named Anne Shirley (Amybeth McNulty) who is adopted by elderly brother and sister Matthew (Robert Holmes Thompson) and Marilla Cuthbert (Geraldine James). Set in the late 19th century in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Anne is thrilled to be adopted as she faced many childhood traumas and neglectful caretakers in her younger years. Originally, the Cuthberts intended to adopt a boy, but due to miscommunication, Anne was sent to them instead. Charmed by her enthusiastic and good-spirited personality, as well as her exuberant imagination, they decide to keep her.

Although Anne is a bright and ambitious girl, she often finds herself in less-than-ideal situations, including accidentally serving her best friend Diana Barry (Dalila Bela) currant wine, which she mistook for raspberry cordial, and purchasing hair dye from a traveling peddler who claimed it would turn her hair ‘raven black’ but dyed it green instead. She is often discriminated against throughout the series for her impulsivity, unusual behavior, and her ‘lower class’ as a Cuthbert and an orphan girl. Over time, however, Anne transforms the lives of her friends and family as they grow to love and accept her for who she is.

Anne With An E explores multiple themes during the series and delves into deeper, more sensitive issues than other adaptations have shown. These focuses include identity, gender, race, empowerment, and acceptance. Season 2 introduces Sebastian “Bash” Lacroix (Dalmar Abuzeid), a black Trinidadian man who befriends Anne’s love interest Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann) aboard a steamship. In season 3, Anne meets Ka’Kwet, a young native girl of the Mi’kmaq (meeg-mah) tribe who is thrust into the residential school system unaccepting of her indigenous beliefs and lifestyle.

Production of the series began in the spring of 2016 and made its debut on Netflix and CBC in 2017. The series first premiered on March 19th and was renewed for a second season on August 3rd. The series was brought back for a third and final season a year later before the series was canceled less than 24 hours after the season 3 premiere, likely due to cut ties between the two companies. Since then, many fans have started petitions and campaigns to revive the show, including Sam Smith and Ryan Reynolds.

I highly recommend this show for anyone who is interested in the new take on Montgomery’s classic book series. I was hooked throughout the entire show and still hope there is a chance for the show to be renewed someday. If you’re looking for an “old-timey” series to set the fall vibe, you should definitely move Anne With An E to the top of your list.