Bring Back ‘Anne with an E’

Bring Back Anne with an E

Amani Yousuf, Staff Writer

In late 2019, it was announced that Anne with an E would not return for a fourth season. The cast, creators, and especially fans (or “kindred spirits”) worldwide were devastated. As a huge fan myself, I’m equally heartbroken. On a typical day, I’ll find my mind wandering about “what might’ve been,” if this amazing series continued. 

Based on Lucy Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables and created by Canadian Emmy-winning writer of Breaking Bad Moira Walley-Beckett, Anne with an E was a co-production between Netflix and Canadian television network CBC. 

Set in 1896, in a small town known as Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Anne with an E follows the story of red-haired orphan Anne Shirley-Cuthbert (Amybeth McNulty), who, after an abusive childhood living in orphanages, is accidentally sent to live with siblings Matthew (R.H. Thomson) and Marilla Cuthbert (Geraldine James). At Green Gables (her new home), Matthew and Marilla love and care for her as their own. Over the course of the series, alongside her best friends, Diana Barry (Dalila Bela) and Ruby Gillis (Kyla Matthews), and love interest, Gilbert Blythe (Lucas Jade Zumann), Anne navigates the struggles of adolescence with the help of her brave and passionate spirit. 

Despite the main audience being middle school age and up, the series can be enjoyed by all.  Anne with an E is the perfect comfort show, and it’s also a catalyst for discussion surrounding found family, prejudice, grief, and love during the late 19th century. At the 2019 Canadian Screen Awards, the series received seventeen nominations and won seven awards. Such nominations included a nomination for Best Lead Actress, Amybeth McNulty as well as Best Drama Series.

The show was not canceled due to unpopularity, Radio Times clarified that Anne with an E was unexpectedly canceled when negotiations between Netflix and CBC fell through.

When Netflix formally announced that season three would be its last, A-list celebrities like Ryan Reynolds advocated for its renewal via Twitter. 

According to Market Research Telecast, in order for Anne with an E to return, Netflix or a different company has to buy the rights from CBC. 

While one certainly cannot deny the show’s incredible acting, beautiful cinematography, and poignant writing, so many other things captivated me as well. I found myself constantly rooting for the characters, and I was inspired by Anne to let my passions drive me. I would honestly give anything to watch it for the first time again. 

Here are some reasons why this series should be renewed: 

Period Piece “Re-Imagined”:

Anne in the blue dress on Amybeth’s (@amybethmcnulty) Instagram

Anne with an E seizes the opportunity to include untold stories that exist simultaneously to that of Anne of Green Gables’ late 19th-century setting, with its take on diversity and inclusion. 

For starters, the cast has a wide range of representation of people of color, which aside from shows like Bridgerton, has never really been done before. It reinforces the idea that there are “no excuses” when it comes to making sure every story is told. In addition, costume designers, Anne Dixon and Alex Reda, don’t fail to style the characters in beautiful “period piece” attire, especially Anne’s stunning royal blue gown from the series finale. 

LGBTQ+ Representation: 

Anne with an E does a tremendous job at telling the story of two LGBTQ+ characters, Aunt Josephine Barry and Cole Mackenzie. In the series, Josephine is Diana Barry’s aunt as well as a huge role model to Anne. At the time, same-sex marriage was illegal in

Canada, so viewers often find Josephine reflecting on her “private, not secret” life with her late partner, Gertrude. Similarly, after facing major bullying and struggling with his sexuality, Cole, a close friend of Anne’s, leaves Avonlea and moves in with Josephine.

Pictured above is Cole and Josephine bonding, courtesy of Screen Rant

From there, he is raised in an environment that encourages and accepts him for who he is. This eventually led to the series being nominated for the 2019 GLAAD Media Award. This award honors specific branches of media for their outstanding representation of the LGBTQ+ community.

Indigenous Storyline: 

In season three, Anne befriends a Native girl named Ka’Kwet. Ka’Kwet is encouraged to attend a boarding school that will help “assimilate” her into modern society, unaware of the horrific reality. Her story sheds light on the abusive residential schools that Indigenous people were put through, which forced children to reject their culture, religion, and identity. While the series doesn’t show starvation, murders, or sexual assault, Ka’Kwet is stripped of her name and cultural style. After facing emotional, verbal, and physical abuse, she manages to escape. Unfortunately, it’s not long before she’s captured from her tribe, and forced to return. As her mother tries to protect her, the men after her attack her tribe, kidnap other children, and shoot her father. Her parents seek out Anne’s family 

Ka’Kwet before she goes to the school, courtesy of Lorensamuels

for help, but alas, they are threatened by the priest and guards. Her parents are last seen determined to save her, but the series ends before her journey is explored further. While Anne with an E was set in Prince Edward Island, Ka’Kwet’s journey does more than reveal Canada’s dark history because many residential schools existed in the United States. Although this story unpacked a lot of trauma and dehumanization, it must be recognized that residential schools were cultural genocide for not only the Mi’kmaq First Nation people (those who have Indian status under Canadian law), but also for Indigenous people worldwide. The Indian representation was certainly a step in the right direction, however, it’s extremely sad that Anne with an E was canceled before tales of Indigenous harmony could’ve been shared. 

Celebrates the Female Experience:

Anne with an E is the intersectional feminist show we all need. Not only does Anne’s eccentric, and full-of-life character speak volumes about powerful women, but the series also details significant aspects of womanhood. A key moment includes Anne getting her first period. At first, she thinks she’s dying. Marilla then explains what is actually happening to her. The show including this is huge because menstruation is a very pivotal moment in a woman’s life and something that is typically neglected in the television industry. 

Anne and her friends protesting for freedom of speech rights, courtesy of LilyLacreag

Furthermore, season two brings Mary, a black laundress from “The Bog,” who transitions into Avonlea life as a black woman, and Mrs. Muriel Stacy, Avonlea’s new–young widowed–school teacher. As the season goes on, her progressive teaching survives the town’s outcry over replacing her with someone with a more “conservative” teaching approach. Season three tackles an even greater number of social issues, including gender parity and sexual harassment toward women. It also develops many side-female characters. Anne with an E is unique because it dares to suggest that women are capable of engaging in both things like hosting tea parties and falling in love, as well as writing poetry–a common pastime in the series–, empowering each other, and fighting for what they believe in. 

Anne and Gilbert’s Relationship:

Finally, fans know well that Anne with an E isn’t Anne with an E without Anne and Gilbert. At last, we got to see them get together. Personally, I’m dying to see how their love story will evolve now that they’re on two separate paths; Anne’s new journey at Queen’s Academy and Gilbert following his passion for becoming a doctor at the University of Toronto. The series does a beautiful job of developing the two characters individually so that their relationship starts with a close friendship that slowly blossoms into something more. Fans also know that Anne and Gilbert are the slow burn of slow burns, meaning that every scene they had together was intentional by creators, and treasured by fans. Part of what I love about Anne and Gilbert is how they reflect so many different tropes. Flashback to season one, Anne definitely wasn’t Gilbert’s biggest fan. This is evident when she whacks a wooden slate over his head when he’s trying to get her attention. Throughout the first season, they’re both at the top of their class, and their relationship will follow an “academic rivals to friends to lovers” storyline

Anne and Gilbert, courtesy of Screen Rant

(yes, that is a thing). By season two, they become pen pals while Gilbert is away at sea. By season three, both Gilbert and Anne have matured, and are ready to confront their feelings. Honestly, we were blessed with the dancing scene, their protesting together, and the love letters. However, in the midst of all that, these two had awful communication (a very real phenomenon), which meant they didn’t get together until the end. Fans didn’t get to see them, as a real couple, fight for each other outside of Avonlea. Their story is powerful and enchanting and isn’t quite over yet.

The message Anne with an E sends is beautiful. Everything the characters felt, I felt. 

I encourage every person who reads this to watch it and enjoy the quality of the series. I also implore you to sign this petition on for its renewal. It needs 3 million signatures and has already amassed over 1.5 million. After extensive research, there isn’t that much that can be done to save this beloved series besides signing it. Hopefully, if more people fall in love with the show, it can be saved.