Anne with an E, Netflix's recent adaptation of the classic Anne of Green Gables story, was going to be a hard sell for me no matter what. My cousin and I used to watch the first video tape of the classic 1985 miniseries over and over at our grandmother's house, desperately wishing we had the second tape to see how Anne's story turned out! We loved her. I don't know why but little girls love to imagine themselves as orphans. Maybe it's the only way children can envision independence at that age. Anne was our perfect heroine.
Eventually I did get to see the end of the series thanks to Blockbuster, and later power-read my way through the novels, sitting on the floor, propped up against my bed, as happy as an any 11-year old could be. All of this is only to say that I'm one of those people who is deeply invested in the Anne of Green Gables story.
So you're probably not surprised to hear that I didn't care for Anne with an E. To be fair, I could barely make it through the first episode. It's such a radical new interpretation of the story, and I don't think it works.
What made Anne appealing in the books and the 1985 series was that she was smart, imaginative, hard-working, and courageous - in spite - of her horrible childhood prior to life at Green Gables. The new series basically says that she is all of those things - because - of her past. Those are two very different characters, and while the latter might be more realistic, that her flights of imagination are coping mechanisms brought on by childhood trauma, it's not particularly pleasant or interesting to watch. It's strident and dark. The Anne of Green Gables story was anything but those things. It was optimistic, fun, and funny.
I don't love this trend in TV nowadays where everyone and everything is unhappy and serious. When I want to hear a story, it's usually because I want to escape those things. There's a place for catharsis, but I don't think it's in children's literature. Maybe that's where the creators at Netflix got things wrong - trying to take a children's story and turn it into adult entertainment. See how wrong that sounds? Who's bright idea was this?
Have you seen Anne with an E yet? If so, what did you think? I should probably push through the series, if only to see if it gets better, but it doesn't according to the New Yorker, so I think I'll save my time and energy for other things. (Like moving this weekend - wish me luck!)
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