If you were a Canadian of the 1980s, it's a certainty that you were as caught up in the adventures of Anne Of Green Gables as the rest of the country. It was the TV movie that would forever link Megan Follows with the titular character, and endear Anne to a whole generation of audiences that may not have read Anne Of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
In fact, it is often the Megan Follows interpretation of Anne that is credited with creating a whole new generation of feminists, and as a Canadian girl who didn't quite fit that mold of a sweet, quiet girl who should be wearing dresses and staying in the kitchen until she married, I could connect very well to Anne. Of course, there were no jeans for young ladies of Anne's generation, but Megan Follows became the new definition of young feminism for me and so many others. The new Netflix series, #AnneWithAnE, is carrying some skepticism from fans who are rightfully in love with the definitive 1985 series.
While it can be argued succinctly that the Anne of the 1985 CBC years was loved for her mind, and that she went through her own struggles with grief and learning to fit in to a world that she wasn't quite used to, the current adaptation airing on #Netflix is a whole other story. Things change, and with every new version of any story comes detractors, but Anne Of Green Gables is not a story to be trifled with.
Anne With An E Lacks Joy
Anne With An E comes with a good place in its heart, but the overall interpretation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's beloved story seems joyless. We shall never have Richard Farnsworth, who played softhearted Matthew Cuthbert, or Colleen Dewhurst, who played his taciturn sister Marilla, ever again, as both those legends have long since left us, but fans of Anne Of Green Gables deserve far better than a wholly dark view of Anne's world.
Anne With An E has been tagged as a gritty reboot, and with Emmy-winning writer and producer Moira Walley-Beckett of Breaking Bad fame behind it, bleak and gritty is certainly what audiences are getting. Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson described it:
"None of the many, many other Anne adaptations stray so disastrously far from the spirit of Montgomery’s original books—and the result is a gloomy series with grim, life-or-death stakes draped over the bones of something beloved, warm-hearted, and familiar."
The Anne of this iteration is one who doesn't look back at her time with her previous family to see parents "trying" to be good to Anne because they were so overwhelmed by their large brood, but one who struggles with what appears to be PTSD. Matthew Cuthbert, so shy and soft-spoken, contemplates suicide at one point — unheard of and heartbreaking to anyone familiar with Lucy Maud Montgomery's seminal work.
Anne With An E hangs on these terribly tragic moments in hopes of carving into entertainment history its own niche, and it fails miserably. There's no hope, no joy and none of the warmth of the original novel or of the original CBC TV movie. Before bringing this version of Anne to the small screen via Netflix, CBC should have known far better that this genre of Anne simply would not work.
What were your impressions of Anne With An E?
(Sources: Vanity Fair)