Screenshot by Abigail Gratzol
“Anne With an E” ’s third and final season was released on Netflix on Jan. 3, 2020 and was probably its best season. Which is why it’s truly devastating that it has been cancelled.
The show is based on Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, taking a more modern approach to the beloved 1908 novel.
It follows an eccentric and imaginative, red-haired orphan girl, Anne Shirley (Amybeth Mcnulty), who is adopted by two unmarried, middle-aged siblings, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert (Geraldine James and R. H. Thomson). The Cuthberts had been expecting a boy to help them on their farm. So when Matthew gets to the train station and finds a girl waiting for him, their first instinct is to send her back to the orphanage, which through a series of flashbacks, we find out was a truly horrible place, where Anne was abused and neglected. However, they can’t help falling in love with Anne and they adopt her as a member of their family. From then on, she goes by Anne Shirley-Cuthbert (which is the cutest thing ever).
The rest of the first season follows Anne’s struggles becoming a part of her new close-knit and small-minded community.
I’m a sucker for period pieces and an even bigger sucker for period pieces that reflect modern sentiments. The show takes on issues such as friendship, feminism, classism, abuse, bullying, death and illness of loved ones, racism, homophobia, ageism, freedom of speech, cultural genocide, consent, anxieties about growing up, and love. And did I mention feminism?
Something “Anne With an E” seems to do consistently is incorporate these themes and messages into its plot pretty seamlessly, without taking away from the story and its original message, which ensures that they feel genuine to viewers. It’s easy for a show to make a statement about something like feminism, but it’s harder for the show to incorporate that statement into the plot without it feeling like it was an afterthought or something thrown in just to make fans happy. I appreciate that this show is able to do both.
The first season was a little rough. Many parts of it were depressing, as Anne was coming right out of an extremely traumatic past and, on top of that, ostracized by her community for being new and different.
But this definitely wasn’t an accident. The show’s creator and sole writer of its first season, Moira Walley-Beckett, is an Emmy-winning producer and writer of “Breaking Bad.”
Many viewers appreciate this approach that has been referred to as more honest and I agree with that. It would be foolish to think that a little girl living in the late 1800’s would come out of her orphanage and many placements (with families who took her in merely as a source of free labor) unscathed.
Current statistics suggest that 5 children die every day as a result of child abuse and that 80% of young adults who reported child abuse met criteria for at least one psychological illness disorder.
The show doesn’t shy away from the very dark and very real struggles many children face, yet are seldom talked about. In addition to that, we get to know Anne better because of it and they end up feeling the gravity of her triumphs even more.
The second season was only a little bit less depressing but had so much more to it. It introduced the brand new character, Sebastian “Bash” Lacroix (Dalmar Abuzeid), a black man from Trinidad, who kicks off the racism conversation. The second season also presents Cole Mackenzie (Cory Grüter-Andrew), a bright, artistic, and sensitive boy (whom I have formally adopted as my son) who we later find out is gay. Better yet, he has a happy ending!
Quick Break: I need to fangirl.
It’s impossible to talk about Anne without mentioning Gilbert (Lucas Jade Zumann). For those who don’t know, Gilbert Blythe is the love interest. Gilbert Blythe is THE love interest. He is the best possible male counterpart for our sweet Anne. The first time we meet little Gilbert is in the woods. Anne is getting bullied and MY SON saves her. THEN LATER he’s trying to get her attention, but he doesn’t know her name, so he calls her “carrots” because of her hair and she thinks that he’s insulting her since she’s already been bullied, so she breaks her slate on his head! It’s true love!
On a more serious note, they are perfect for each other. They are the smartest students in their class and are extremely competitive with each other. Yet, instead of resenting her for possibly removing him from his position as the smartest kid in class, Gilbert welcomes the stimulation to his intellect and grows to like Anne more and more. Also (!!!) my good boy is obviously a feminist AND he is best friends with Bash (who is also my son).
Not only is Gilbert a good character to begin with, the actor who plays him is perfect for the part. He brings such a sincere, innocent, and fresh quality to the iconic character. Anne and Gilbert’s chemistry is subtle (which is good since they are kids) but electric. In some ways they are the typical awkward teenage unrequited love, but their connection is deeper and more believable than your middle school crush. I absolutely love the fact that neither of them realize they like each other, but everyone close to them knows.
Ok I’m done now. Back to your regularly scheduled program.
Now, the third season features Anne at her zenith. She is much more confident now. She and her class are producing a local newspaper with the help of their teacher. She celebrates her 16th birthday. Some of them start pairing off in new relationships. The show addresses Native American presence and the government-endorsed racism and cultural genocide they experienced. There’s DRAMA!
The season ends on a good note, but with many devastating loose ends. I’m not going into detail so as to avoid spoilers but just know that there are loose ends and they will haunt me for eternity.
And that’s the worst part about the show’s cancellation. And that’s why it’s not surprising that fans have been campaigning for its’ renewal ever since the news came out.
With hashtags like #RenewAnneWithAnE and #SaveAnneWithAnE flooding the internet, even people like Ryan Reynolds took notice. Reynolds commented on Netflix US’s tweet, saying that they “might want to renew ‘Anne With an E’.”
Fans continue to fight for their beloved show. Why?
The answer is quite simple: “Anne With an E” means a lot to them.
The reason the show means so much is because people identify with it, one way or another. For some, it’s the trauma Anne experienced and overcame. For some, it’s her overwhelming positivity that simply gives some viewers enough strength to get through the rest of the day. For me, it was a little bit of all these things.
When the first season was released on Netflix on May 12, 2017, I was in a tough situation. It was the second semester of my freshman year here at EMHS. I had been homeschooled for three years (from sixth grade through middle school) and was suddenly thrust back into public school. I didn’t know anyone. (Everyone I knew from elementary school was at Central.) I was overwhelmed by everything. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, my parents separated and my mom moved out. My dad was always gone. My older sister was working. I didn’t have friends. I felt all alone.
And then there was this show. There was this girl who didn’t have a family. Who was thrust into a brand new community. A brand new school. Who used her imagination to escape her reality and feel better about her life. And, of course, my situation wasn’t nearly as horrible as hers, but I could relate to many aspects of her story. Besides, the show gave me an escape.
Then, the second season, she was doing better and simply dealing with more typical teenage struggles, while not forgetting where she came from. And this last season, Anne was becoming a woman. Worried about her Queens entrance exams, social life, and what she was going to do with her career and future.
Every season kind of mirrored where I was at in my life. I’ve felt like I’ve grown up with Anne in a way.
Many fans felt the same as I did. An article in the Toronto Star titled, “Upset fans won’t let ‘Anne With an E’ go without a fight”, details the outpouring of support from the show’s fans from all over the world.
Their reasons ranged from anywhere: plot relevance to support through their hard times to a character they can look up to and identify with.
Nevertheless, the show remains cancelled and, according to Moira Walley-Becket, it will stay that way.
In an Instagram post, she addressed fans, telling them that “there is just no way to revive Anne With An E anywhere at this point. It will not happen.”
In another post, she went into further detail, explaining that she and her team tried to find the show “a new home” or, at the very least, to get a finale movie to give fans closure. All their efforts came to nothing, citing economic reasons.
“Art and Commerce is never an easy Marriage,” Walley-Beckett said. “I often find it inexplicable. This is one of those times. But it’s impossible to argue with words like Economics, Algorithms, Demographics, etc., etc. But those words and others like them are the reason why the Networks don’t want to continue.”
She tells the fans who fought so hard for her show to “love all that exists of it and hold onto the joy and hope and wonder the show brought to all of us who worked on it, and all of you who watched it.”
That is what I will do. Even though its ending is tragic and undeserved, that can not spoil all that the show has given me and its other fans. I will always love Green Gables and the people who helped create it.
Even now, Anne teaches her fans a lesson; that all things will end but that’s okay… and that no ending can spoil the joy and light something has brought to your life.
The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the GENESIS staff. Reach Abigail Gratzol at [email protected]