Anne With an E: A Story for Everyone
for she had something to say
by Abby Gail A. Tiongson and Angeline Marie C. Yambao
The intimacy of the streaming world can transport us into the hearts and minds of characters we love and adore, allowing us to live vicariously through them. Even so, I’m certain that you have yet to fully experience the word “vicariously” until you watch “Anne with an E” – a Netflix hidden gem worth exploring.
“Anne with an E” is the most recent adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s renowned children’s novel “Anne of Green Gables”, from the great mind of Emmy award-winning ‘Breaking Bad’ screenwriter and producer – Moira Walley-Beckett, whose enhancements to the original best immortalized the story and made it more historically accurate.
The series follows the adventures of Anne Shirley (Amy McNulty), a bright, high-spirited 13-year-old orphan with fiery red hair. The plot begins when she was mistakenly sent to her new foster home. There she meets Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (R.H. Thomson and Geraldine James), two elderly siblings who were originally expecting a boy to help with the farm. Will ecstatic Anne be adopted and finally have a home despite this mix-up, or will the Cuthberts choose to return her?
Anne & Feminism— “and more”
Anne’s history is revealed in flashbacks throughout the series, with her typical whims of imagination, outbursts of rage, and dramatic speeches framed as a traumatized child’s defense and survival mechanisms. She will provide you a much wider scope into her imagination as you listen to her talk. She is curious for things that do not make sense to her, leaving you amazed at how courageous she can be. This was best displayed when Anne boldly declares to Marilla: “I don’t mean any disrespect, but couldn’t I do the farm chores even though I’m a girl? I’m as strong as a boy and I prefer to be out of doors instead of cooped up in a kitchen… Girls can do anything a boy can do and more.” She strongly follows this with: “Do you consider yourself as delicate and incapable? … because I certainly don’t.” But to no Avail, Marilla still did not consider Anne’s proposition.
Not Your Typical Protagonist
Though Anne has many admirable qualities to her like her unyielding optimism, above average intelligence, and broad imagination— she is not your typical protagonist. Anne is not your go-to friend as she leaves quite the impression on people, as evidenced by her hot-headedness, impulsive nature, dramatic poem declamation, and over-the-top imagination. But these make you love her all the more! You will find yourself intrigued by her realistic personality as you begin to see the world through the eyes of an orphan. When Anne reminisces her dark past, she then asked Marilla: “I never understood it. If children are such a burden, then why do people have so many of them?”
What’s great about “Anne with an E” is that the plot does not focus solely on Anne unlike its numerous adaptations. It also delves into the 19th-century overly closed-minded folks in Avonlea in Prince Edward Island. It does not shy away from showing how orphans are looked down upon, rampant racial discrimination, the experiences of LGBTQIA+ folk and women oppression. “Anne with an E” tastefully portrays these tragic truths through its retelling of the 1st century from a century-old children’s classic novel.
Gender inequality is especially a topic often discussed within the show’s script, outrightly expressing selective freedom of speech as it favors the male population. For men, the possession of one’s rights is an inherited birthright not to be questioned. The same manner of privilege, however, cannot be said for women, whose sole identities and acts of duty are mere extensions of the male aspirations within society. Having authority and voicing one’s opinion were simply perceived as “too much” or “too sensitive” to be acceptable for “measly women”. Women pay the price for speaking up and are quickly labeled as an inconvenience to those who are far too comfortable with their privileges.
Transcending the Evergreen
Anne with an E is an emotional rollercoaster that will send you spiraling with each episode. It does not matter if you are an adult who’s tired of the complex demands of life or a child who is finally coming of age in modern society— this show will make you feel vulnerable and brave without an ounce of shame for being your authentic self. But is it really that simple?
This is the untold truth of reality, that authenticity may sometimes cost you of your own dreams of labeled improbability. To go past the norm of one’s expected convenience of propriety through the adherence of one’s economic, political, psychological, and perceived social standing, which then had been brushed aside by parlor conversation but now appeals to the modern reader. Anne Shirley Cuthbert is an ex-orphan who has never lowered her head nor her voice even when faced with her greatest fears. She had struggles, yes, but she was not the type to be easily subdued by an identity which does not reign true to herself.
Anne with her blazing red hair: a color which distinctively reminds me of a flame yearning to live. She was a child who had clawed its way out of the gunshot wounds of embarrassment, ablaze with newfound strength. She was an old scarf, which had once been loved only to be abandoned. Now it burns in the trash heap with scorching anger. Who could love someone like Anne when she was not any kin to them? Anne was simply another mouth to feed, another burden to carry.
But she was still Anne— Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert’s beloved Anne of Green Gables. Their Anne who now reminds me of the color blue: a light and comforting hue of finally being found at last. She embodied the color of Cyan, the loud, bright shade of the liberating sky. The same pastel wash of Diana’s dress as she found solace in her budding friendships. As her story reigns triumphant over melancholic waves, we realize that not everything has to be burnt down from the heat of the moment— that hunger can be satiated by simple acts of kindness.
The little girl whom we had come to love from the book was truthfully a flawed character. One that will surely bring her audience to internally cringe at her raw yet endearing brilliance. She is a character that we all can relate to as she continues to grow into the person she’s meant to become. The first sight of compelling mirth from everyone around Anne had elicited the tangible feeling of life, the color green. It was what everyone within Avonlea had craved, to transcend into their own version of beauty through the premises of being bare amongst the morsels of what was left for them to own. There will be days where we will feel the slither of envy as we crave what was deprived of us.
Empowerment is not merely the absence of mistakes nor the lack of courage. It is most evident when one is enveloped with immense fear, when the body continues to tremble upon choices and begins to walk down unpaved roads. For some, this is seen as the trivialities of utter foolishness, but for others it means everything.
With all this being said: do find the time to find this hidden gem on Netflix. We assure you, “Anne with an E” is a story that speaks to everyone – especially you!