Homespun Charm or Green Gables with a Little Grit, Who’s Your Anne?

Miles of cornfields skirted my periphery each time I set foot out of my front door as a child. I remember long summers of tending the lawn, and helping my parents can tomatoes. Needless to say, I spent my early years on a farm. When Anne came across my radar, it was like I’d found another kindred spirit.

Diana and Anne crown each other with flowers.

Kindred Spirits. Yes, this is pretty much what our dresses looked like too!

Of course my mom jumped at the chance to sew me a cute little farm style dress because I was an Anne fan. She even made matching outfits for me and my best friend. Rural Indiana is no Prince Edward Island, but it definitely set the stage for bucolic charm.

Normally, when a remake or book to tv series comes out you hear the regular amount of resistance that only a die-hard L.M. Montgomery fan can possess. This go round with Netflix’s Anne with and ‘E’ was quite a bit different with a mixed bag of emotions. The latest rendering of Anne comes to us with an attempt at explaining facets of Anne’s tragic past.

“There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Children of the 80s and 90s lovingly embraced the Canadian series’ adaptation that leaves us with all the feels for the heartwarming and wholesome relationships that form for Anne with the Cuthberts, Diana, Gilbert, and many other endearing characters.

Sure, this specific version takes numerous creative liberties. Whether you are a fan of the book, old tv series or the Netflix series, you have to appreciate how writer and creator Moira Walley-Beckett re-imagines certain aspects of Anne to give her a more empathetic appeal.

Anne Shirley

It’s not like she reinvented Anne, but shed some light on some overlooked aspects of her past. Children suffer too. I’m sure Walley-Beckett tapped into some of her darker inspiration she used in her writing for Breaking Bad that might have carried over into Anne with an ‘E’.

“I’m not a bit changed–not really. I’m only just pruned down and branched out. The real ME–back here–is just the same.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Here are a few of the hiccups that many tried and true Anne fans have a hard time getting past.

In the new series, Gilbert’s dad dies. Crucial move on Walley-Beckett’s part! I’m sure this literary liberty makes sense in the new version because it paved a new avenue for Anne and Gilbert to bond, as orphans, even if it is a touch on the bleak and depressing side.Gilbert tugs on Anne's pigtails at school.

In the book, Gilbert’s dad lives to see his grand kids. How sweet! However, I’m all for a new perspective with believable facets that support whatever story the director or writer is aiming for.

Before Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert opened their home and hearts to Anne, the book alludes to Anne’s upbringing to be less than desirable, but addresses it in a very delicate manner saying that her caretakers “meant to be good” to her.

In the 2017 Netflix series, Mr. Hammond, her caretaker, dies of a heart attack onset by beating the bejeezus out of Anne. For most traditional Anne fans, this was a bit more than they could handle. It was shocking, but it shed light on a reality that gets easily neglected. If Anne with an ‘E’ opens a conversation about child abuse, I think it’s imperative we discuss it, not just sweep it under the rug because it makes us uncomfortable.

I was a little jarred when Anne returned to Green Gables with Matthew and was still mostly unwelcome, ostracized, and bullied heavily for a good minute. We get it. Walley-Beckett was really trying to drive home Anne’s struggles. Her original homecoming was far more heartwarming and less complicated.

There is one major snag in our new rendition, Matthew Cuthbert attempts suicide in the Netflix series which is unthinkable to fans of the original. I’m a touch torn on this issue because I can see its relevance to the series, but it did seem more dramatic than was necessary. In the book and original series, Matthew’s death comes many years later, and serves as a lesson for Anne and readers alike that tragedy comes unexpectedly and in common ways.

A classic Anne of Green Gables moment with her treasured puffed sleeves and lace detailing.

That’s what I call puffed sleeves!

I fully support the new Anne. She still hits all the high points for me. She’s strong, intelligent, loyal, and a hopeless romantic. We’ve still got puffed sleeves, getting drunk with Diana, and cracking slates over dreamboat Gilbert. Yay! I would have been more thrown off if her personality was portrayed differently rather than the journey to her eccentricity and charm.

Animation of Diana opening the wine she thought was juice.

Love it or hate. Anne with an E will be back for a second season. Frankly, I can’t wait!!
Will you be watching the new season? #annewithane

Samantha Sierra

Writer, designer, dreamer, and overall creative, Samantha enjoys ruffling a few feathers with the unexpected. She is committed to seeking inspiration in unlikely places to bring about engaging design, generate conversation, and spark new ideas.