Let's kick this off with a little disclaimer: I'm usually pretty cynical from the get-go when it comes to reboots. More often than not they're awful, a stain on what would otherwise be a charming childhood memory. They make us ponder over why Hollywood can't be bothered to come up with any new ideas (money, obvs) and why they must always add a "twist" to a tale that's already beloved. From the second they're announced, I expect — quite frankly — for it to be a waste of time. With #Netflix's Anne of Green Gables reboot, Anne With An E however, it was different: I really wanted to love it.
The reasons for optimism were mostly twofold. Firstly, young women today really need role models like Anne. She's feisty, she champions intelligence and loyalty over all else, she stands up for what she believes in and refuses to be pigeon-holed by society's expectations. Penned in 1902 by Lucy M. Montgomery, #AnneOfGreenGables has always been a progressive character; how many female protagonists — at that time especially — would not only reject gender conformity but the religious beliefs of their household, too? And how many would smash a slate over a boy's head after he touched her without permission? How many would stand up for their right to an education, rather than settle down and push out a couple of kids? Not many.
Tragically, the same points can be made today. It's been well over a century since Anne of Green Gables was written, yet really how much has changed? In 2017 we're seeing the same story. Planned Parenthood losing its funding; one in six women in America are victims of attempted, and often completed, rape; less than 40% of women qualify for the full 12 weeks of maternity leave, and more and more anti-abortion politicians are seizing power. Imagine being a young woman, growing up surrounded by this kind of sexist bull and tell me you don't need a headstrong Anne to teach them that they don't need to put up with it.
Secondly, and this kind of jumps off the back of the last point — I just wanted something feel-good and nostalgic to watch, given that I've spent the best part of the last month watching The Handmaid's Tale and wanting to kill myself with a noose made out of tampon strings. I grew up watching the Megan Follows TV mini-series, and the idea of a version that stayed true to the classic but added a little modernized magic really appealed. Sadly, however, that's is not what was delivered. In fact, what we got was pretty far from it.
SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this article contains #AnneWithAnE spoilers — you have been warned.
1. This Anne Isn't The Sunny, Endlessly Optimistic Anne We All Love — In Fact, She Seems Like A Lunatic
In this version, the red-headed orphan girl we've spent the last 100 years falling in love with, thanks to her consistently upbeat demeanor and hilarious yet head-scratching turn of phrase, is transformed into something far less fun. Though Amybeth McNulty — who stars as Anne — is fantastic, the show as a whole pegs her as a victim; a young girl irrevocably scarred by her gruesome past, so much so that traumatic flashbacks render her so nervous that she runs away from school. Because of this, she also cares far more than Anne OG would have about what other people think of her.
Anne's character is also wildly exaggerated. While we're used to her spouting flowery prose on the daily, here she does it with such abandon and theatrical vigor that she actually just ends up seeming like a complete and utter lunatic. And although that flower-filled hat might be great for Instagram, it doesn't do much to convince us she's stable.
2. It's Filled With Unbelievable Plot Points That Weren't In The Book, Nor Any Other Adaptation
There were many deviations from the traditional narrative that, in my opinion, were so counterproductive they verged on boring, but to save your sanity I'll just stick to the one: The Cuthberts sending Anne away, and then losing her.
After accusing Anne of stealing her broach, Marilla plonks her on the first ferry back to the orphanage alone and predictably, given how much she hated it there, Anne runs away. After a spell sitting on a milk float with James Cordon's doppelgänger, she winds up in a train station selling spoken poetry in return for fare, and while there, she's approached by an overweight child snatcher who threatens to drag her back to her abusive past. Once she's escaped him however, she's pretty much ignored by everyone else.
When the Cuthberts discover she didn't actually steal the broach, there's a dramatic chase scene on horseback to find her — which wouldn't have happen, this is Episode 2 and Anne has been in their care for less than a week — resulting in Matthew smacking his head and winding up in the hospital for a hot second. When he finally reaches the station — conveniently, he bumps in to James Cordon who tells him where Anne is — he ends up making a scene, looking like the second child snatcher of that episode until he calls her his daughter and all is forgiven. Like, what was the point?!
3. Everyone In Avonlea Is An Asshole
Oof. Where to start with this. Perhaps the school kids barking at her, calling her a "dog" and "trash" and crying at the idea of being associated with her? Perhaps at the parents, who are so dismayed that their children are being exposed to an orphan that they forbade any interaction, going as far as to publicly demand seats be swapped in school? Perhaps that dickwad of a teacher, who has the time to fiddle a student but no time to ensure that Anne is up to date with their curriculum so as not to humiliate her before of her peers?
In fact, even her "bosom buddy" Diana Berry is a complete and utter waste of time in the new adaptation; she ditches Anne pretty much instantly, as soon as the other girls don't want to be seen with her = -100 friend points.
In the books and the #TV series, Anne is instantly popular; here she's bullied by everyone in town, with the exception of Matthew Cuthbert — and that's only because he never says anything. To be honest, I spent the full seven episodes hating everyone in Avonlea, rather than admiring and loving all the madcap personalities that brought the original to life, and that is such a waste.
In a nutshell, if you were hoping to relive some of the Anne of Green Gables childhood sparkle, stick to the Megan Follows version.
Have you watched Anne With An E yet?