Before I decided to watch the latest version of Anne of Green Gables, I had read some pretty nasty reviews of the Netflix version. Many of the critics here complain that this version is a darker unnecessary rendition. But I see it as true to life. Not everything is always peachy. There are trials and tribulations. Moreover, to have a life affirming story, reality does need to make it's way into your narrative. To those reviewers I simply ask, "what was it that you watched? For I think this version is lovely."
For those who have never read the books, or have seen the original movie, Anne with an E is the story of an orphaned girl Anne Shirley who is bright, precocious, imaginative, and quite a challenge. Thrilled with every aspect of life, despite the hardships she has endured, Anne makes a wonderful first impression. Well at least to our modern sensibilities. Anne is not always welcome in the much more reserved, staid era of "children shall be seen and not heard, especially girl children."
But luckily for Anne she is sent to live with the Cuthberts. An aging sister and brother couple that actually had asked the orphanage to send a boy so he could help with the farm chores. Yes confusion ensues, but Anne being Anne, does her best to charm, cajole, and enamor the Cuthberts into allowing her to stay.
We not only fall in love with this version of Anne, but we also are drawn to the Cuthberts. They have their own story, which actually mirrors Anne's. The truth is that these three people desperately need each other, and over the episodes we witness the blossoming of a wonderful family. Some complain about the inability of the characters to deal with their emotions. But that is also the beauty of this version. These three people are able overtime, to come to trust each other, so that they are not afraid to be vulnerable.
Now as I wrote above, not everyone in the story loves Anne. In fact we are witness to the ignorance that abounded during the turn of the 20th century. Orphans were misbegotten. They were either see as farmed out servants, or na'er-do-wells. Descent society would turn their noses down at an adopted child. We see in an episode, even the minister is bigoted against Anne because of her status in life.
I will admit, the episode I ended up skipping was the one where Anne was bullied in school and the teacher allowed it. It was funny, because while I could deal with the stupidity of the adults in society, it was the cruelty of the schoolroom that truly upset me. Not that it isn't resolved happily in the end, but I simply could not watch it. Perhaps in some part of my world, it reminded me of things that were all too real for myself and my own children. Bullying is not a new problem by any stretch of the imagination.
One of the more interesting aspects of the show is how it presents life in rural Canada at this time as well. We, in the US, forget, that at the time that our ancestors were settling the West, as in Little House on the Prairie, much of Canada was being settled in the same way. Here we witness the life of those who lived in our neighbor to the North. For those who like historical fiction, this is truly a fun series.
In the end, Anne with an E, is an enjoyable retelling of the Anne of Green Gables story. It is not all mushy and gooshy. It has a real life quality about it that makes it an interesting and enterprising program. But this is also not a version for small children. It is best for preteens or older. There are some scenes with adult cruelty towards children, which are rather upsetting, and a coming of age episode where Anne gets her menstrual period.
I did binge watch most of it. And yes, it sets up an interesting cliff hanger. I am looking forward to season 2.