* A few spoilers ahead
Anyone who knows me knows of my love of Anne of Green Gables. Anne and her series of books was essentially my childhood’s Harry Potter. I read them over and over again and I loved the 1985 series with Megan Follows. So it was with great anticipation I heard a new version was coming on Netflix this week! Unfortunately I have viewed the 7 episode first season and not only is it not an Anne series but it doesn’t replace her with anything very compelling. I really didn’t care for this version of Anne.
It cannot be denied there is a darkness to Anne’s story. Many of her most attractive qualities such as her window friends or active imagination when you dig into them are coping mechanisms, survival strategies more than anything else. She had to create an imagination in order to live as a slave with the Hammonds or in the miserable asylum. So, on the surface I don’t have a problem with them exploring this darker side of Anne’s personality. However, what they forgot to show is how Anne is a survivor and how her optimism brightens all around her. The dark is good to show but the lightness is also important.
This is the main problem with Anne with an E- it’s unrelenting bleakness. Most of the series bears no resemblance to the novel and even the scenes that do, come across as cold and sterile where they are mixed to sweet in the book. For example, in the book Marilla accuses Anne of taking her broach. Anne confesses to stealing it even though she hasn’t because she wants to go to a party. Marilla finds the broach and asks Anne’s forgiveness.This is a tense but honest moment where the two become closer.
Unfortunately in this version Marilla sends Anne away to Charleston on the train back to the asylum for stealing the broach!! Gone are any chance to learn or have the characters bond from this simple sweet experience. Plus you have the ridiculous sequence of Matthew racing on a horse to find Anne like a knight in shining armor (and much more melodrama hunting her down in the city crashing into carriages and the like).
Another example can be seen in the school sequences. In the book Josie Pye is a snob that looks down on Anne because of the attention Gilbert gives her. In this series Josie is unceasingly cruel and the entire town talks about Anne and what a retrograde orphan she is. Anne literally has to go into a burning building to get anyone to trust her at all.
Even scenes that should be fun are made ponderous like Matthew buying the puffed sleeves dress. In this version he is confronted with the woman he once loved but couldn’t marry and then Anne must sell the dress back when the house is going to be foreclosed on. It’s just a joyless enterprise!
They even manage to work in themes of suicide, mental illness and abuse to make things really fun. And they are sooooo heavy handed with the modern messaging and feminism. Anne isn’t just as good as a boy but a boy is sent to protect her at one point and he literally gets beat up by thugs while she is unharmed. There is also a weird scene where she tells the other kids about sex and that Prissy Andrews and the teacher are making a baby together. I get the writers wanted to modernize Anne but in so doing they created an entirely different bland feminist character. I like Anne just the way she was!
It is nicely shot and the performances aren’t bad but that’s all I can really say in its defense. As it moved along I became less and less engaged. By episode 5 if I wasn’t podcasting about it I would have stopped watching. Like I said, it’s not just that they changed everything. It’s that they didn’t replace it with something compelling or engaging. It was just grim and joyless.
I would definitely not recommend Anne with an E for children and even teens should be warned. My advice is to watch the 1985 version and even better read the books. This is new series isn’t good. In fact, it is kind of awful.
Overall Grade- D (Yes, that’s what I really feel it deserves)
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31 thoughts on “Anne with an E Series Review (Spoilers)”
Mmmm….I watched the series, too, and it was kind of a frustrating experience. The sad thing is, I actually like the actors they picked and I also like the idea to explore more of Anne’s past. The books were always way to ready to skip over what it actually means. I don’t even mind the discussion about education, because that is a huge part of the books, especially the later ones, I just wish that the show were less on the nose about the feminist aspect. I don’t even mind that she has more trouble in school, because a child which is dressed old fashioned and behaves a little bit strangely should struggle more.
What kills it for me is the need to overdramatize everything. The whole episode with the broach is dramatic enough in the book, and damn, after all the drama the reader deserves to read about her having a great day at the picnic instead of even more suffering being loaded on her (plus, the Berries keeping Diane away from Anne in this scene makes zero sense at this point).
I think that is the main problem: The readiness to change things around for the sake of drama even if it makes zero sense in the reality which has been established in the show. For example if Anne has done the household for a woman who didn’t even care if she heard everything about sex, she should know what a period.
I mean whoever wrote this had a keen eye for topics which are worth exploring but the way they are explored is so melodramatic and depressing.
Yeah it is a real missed opportunity on many forums and it had a lot of potential.
Random but you might want to check out the series Big Little Lies. It has a lot of interesting female characters and is very well written/acted
I’ve watched four episodes and I’m not especially keen to finish the series. You’re certainly right about it amping up the cruelty and darker aspects – the fact that our first look at Anne involves her having a PTSD flashback says it all. I preferred how the book was more subtle about it. Plus the things it changes often don’t gel with or impact on the bits that are adapted more faithfully: it’s hard to accept Anne’s perkiness and optimism when she keeps having moments indicative of deep mental scarring along with it. Plus her first impression of Gilbert Blythe is him saving her from a probable beating, rather than him pulling her hair and calling her “Carrots”, and yet she still treats him exactly the same. Guess I’ll just have to look up the 1985 series.
Yeah you are exactly right on this. Everything became grim because of the brutality shown. If you can believe it gets even worse in the last 3 episodes. Geesh! What a disappoinment
Reblogged this on Smilingldsgirl's Weblog and commented:
My thoughts on recent Anne of Green Gables series Anne with an e
I never read the books as you know nor ever heard of this new series before.
Were you into the Little House on the Prairie books too growing up? Those were what I read a lot of growing up!
Yeah I loved Little House books. In fact one year I had a little house birthday party
Nice, I can’t remember if I read all of them, but I read almost all of them. I also used to read the Doctor Dolittle books growing up; those were great!
Let’s hope we don’t get dark and grim little house or Dr Dolittle series….Btw did you hear Robert Downey Jr is going to be in a Dr Dolittle reboot?
Yeah, I heard of that. I wonder what it’ll be like.
You’ve got to figure it must be something special because RDJ doesn’t do that many non-Marvel movies these days. It seems like an odd choice but we will see
Are either of you fans of the Little House TV series? I’m not super well-versed in the show, but I’ve really liked every episode I’ve seen. 🙂 (Although the prairie looks suspiciously like the same SoCal locations that all TV shows used in the 1970s…)
Yes love it! When I was little I called it Little Prairie on the House. It’s sweet show
I’ve never watched the show; I’ve only read the books.
I got into the Little House Books around middle school. My mom told me about the tv series and I decided to watch it since it plays on reruns. I’ve seen most of the episodes except for a few here and there.
Reblogged this on Personal Musings: and commented:
I agree with your sentiments. The 1985 film and its sequel are the best Anne movies. Also if you want an adaptation as faithful like the ’85 film. You should watch “Akage No Anne”. It’s basically Anne of Green Gables as an anime.
I’ve heard of that anime but haven’t seen it. Worth checking out then?
Definitely! Plus it’s directed by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki did the scene layouts for the series. The series is so beautiful to look at.
Can’t go wrong with them working on it!
I always loved the books. My middle name is Anne (with an E!) and my mom named our house “Gray Gables.” But it sounds like from this review maybe I’ll just stick with the books.
Yeah it has its fans but I’m not one of them. Even this dark and grim Anne needs better writing
Cannot add anything to what you’ve said here. Well. I could. But it’s not necessary. Glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t like it.
One thing you’ve opened my eyes to, is that it could be done in a darker vein at all. I am still pondering that. To me that seems like doing a dark version of “Shawshank Redemption” & so what would be the point? But you got me thinking. Thanks.
Season two is political correctness pushed as far as possible. If you want all of the leftist ideas pushed in you face by the lead actress, this is the series for you. Me, I am disgusted that the writers and producers took a great story with good acting and turned it into one emotional rant after another by Anne. Terrible what Hollywood has done here. They are apparently incapable of advocating for simple goodness.
I’m not surprised at all. I couldnt bring myself to watch it so thanks for filling me in. It is such a missed opportunity
I would say season 2 is better written than season 1 in terms of writing. Season 1 was ALL over the place. The book was incredibly political. Its just a 21st century translation.
It is my humble opinion that a series of this magnitude will favor best with those who unfortunately have been down a similar road such as Anne’s. Having an “orphan brain” or suffering through any trauma is not something that can be turned on and off at will. The wonderful bright light that was repeated over and over in the series was in how resilient , empathetic and forgiving Anne was. I can understand how many in this comment section had a difficult time sticking with it and I can also understand how many others appreciated the raw reality of Anne’s struggles and triumphs