Why "Anne with an E" is Important to Teens
Amid recent events, fans were outraged when Netflix had announced the abrupt end to the coming of age period drama Anne With An E, which was inspired by the Lucy Maud Montgomery book series Anne of Green Gables. After neglecting by Netflix users, the streaming service had to end the show and cut their deal with CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Channel that was host to Anne with an E. Though there isn’t much hope of getting the show renewed, the least you can do is stream the show and its last season on Netflix starting January 3rd - here are a few reasons to watch it.
The protagonist of Anne with an E is none other than Anne Shirley Cuthbert, an orphan who is mistakenly taken in by the Cuthberts at Green Gables. Although the family originally wanted a boy to help with the farm, Anne leaves a lasting impression on them and proves that any girl can fill the shoes of a boy. The show continues to empower Anne and express to their audience that even in the 1800s, women had a voice. For instance, while everyone in season 3 is preoccupied with courting, Anne claims she wishes to be the bride of adventure. Rather than settling down and cooking and cleaning for her husband, she wants to travel the world and experience the whole spectrum of emotions. Even when she realizes that falling in love is inevitable, she says that she and her lover are to be equals - life partners, as she calls them, instead of husband and wife.
Season 3 tackles even more intense conversations like sexual assault, and females standing up for the truth and what they believe in, even if society disagrees with their views. Avonlea’s infamous troublemaker Billy Andrews takes advantage of his adoring girlfriend Josie Pye. This results in rumors spreading and humiliated Josie tries to sweep it all under the rug. Anne, who believes in speaking out and bringing justice to fellow friends, publishes an article for their local newspaper without permission. The paper vocalized radical but beautiful thoughts for that time, saying, “Women matter on their own, not in relation to a man / Women are not made whole by men, women are made whole the moment they enter this world.” Though it did more harm than good, Anne inspired her friends to never stay silent and break free of society’s molds.
Anne with an E is also loved for its normalization and representation of people that are inaccurately characterized in other shows. For instance, Cole Mackenzie, a closeted artist, befriends Anne during his return to school. His love for art causes him to be ridiculed and bullied by fellow men in his class, and even his old teacher, Mr. Phillips. Throughout season two, Cole displays feminine qualities, that seem taboo in the time period, and because of that, his tormentors cross a line and accidentally break his hand. Cole proceeds to quit school, but Anne never stops supporting him, even after she finds out he’s gay, which was illegal at the time. He proceeds to realize and embrace his sexuality as he meets the charismatic and rich Aunt Josephine. She had a wife who passed away and taught Cole and his friends that love is love and Cole should be whoever he wants.
There is also lots of racial diversity, seen in the characters Sebastian “Bash” Lacroix and Ka’kwet of the Mi’kmaq tribe. But with this, comes the raw and honest storylines that these characters have. Bash lives in a time where anyone of color is treated as less worthy of respect and love. He is mistaken as a slave in places like Trinidad and is constantly struggled with proving himself to Avonlea, but Gilbert and the Cuthberts support him unconditionally. As a result, the town slowly comes to see his value as a fellow citizen and as a human being. Ka’kwet and her family, who have always been scrutinized for being people of color and embracing their culture, take on a genuine and heartbreaking story arc, based on true historical facts. In Canada, up until 2006, natives were taken into conversion camps and forced to erase all aspects of their heritage and adopt Christian beliefs. Christian priests in charge would change their names and even whip the kids if they didn’t speak English. Though some were lucky to escape, that is not the case for all and Anne with an E explores that sad reality. The show clearly educates its audience, teaching us to be more mindful of other people and not judge them based on their looks. Anne Shirley stands firmly by that and instead of shaming them, is fascinated by their culture and kind nature.
This show also puts a strong emphasis on the meaning of family. Anne has been an orphan for most of her life, and the concept of belonging to someone is abstract to her. But under the wing of the Cuthberts, Anne is able to experience what it means to have a mother and father that love her. Although they are not her birth parents, Marilla Cuthbert and Matthew Cuthbert show Anne that family doesn’t have to be blood, family is anyone who can make you feel at home. They take care of and when she’s sick, help and through bullying, give her wonderful clothes and gifts on her birthday, and more than anything support her through all of her endeavors. She even went and decided to investigate into her lineage, and the Cuthberts emphasize how much they love her and want her to be happy. Anne finds out that her birth parents are dead and while it’s saddening, she’s grateful to know that after a lifetime of not belonging she now has her friends, Matthew and Marilla to embark on all her journeys with.
Unfortunately, Anne with an E also has to tackle the dark subject of death. In a time brimming with disease and death, the show teaches its audience members how to properly grieve and to find a new, brighter way to look at death. Anne not only has to grapple with the fact that her birth parents are dead, she also has to watch Gilbert’s father John, and her close friend, Mary die as well. Mary, unfortunately, left her newborn daughter when she died, and it was hard for everyone and Avonlea to cope with this sudden and painful tragedy. The show does a wonderful job of pointing out that death doesn’t necessarily need to be sad. They celebrate Mary‘s life with a beautiful ceremony featuring many songs, games, and stories to share with Mary. They even celebrate her life after death as they add her into the newspaper's obituary. Not many shows take this approach, and it truly means something to all the watchers of Anne with an E that the show not only honestly dealt with the idea of death but introduced a new perspective about it.
The show was sadly canceled after season three’s last episode aired in October. After almost five months of no renewal news, there now seems to be some hope. With the neverending trending hashtags, like renewannewithe, annewithane, and saveanne, the audience was thrilled by the chance that this beautiful and important show could continue. Other distraught fans even began begging different streaming services and production companies to renew the show. Different celebrities like Sam Smith and Ryan Reynolds have expressed their love for the show, and amidst all that, rumors have spread that Disney+ is ready to take on the show, and all they need is a legal statement to officially obtain it. It doesn’t help that showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett has fueled rumors by flying back to Canada to discuss it. While that all remains up in the air, old fans and new fans can express their love by streaming the current season on Netflix. Anne with an E is our favorite show to rewatch and maybe it can become your next binge-worthy show as well!