TV Review: Anne with an E (2017)

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Summary: The adventures of a young orphan girl living in the late 19th century. Follow Anne as she learns to navigate her new life on Prince Edward Island, in this new take on L.M. Montgomery’s classic novels.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. There are a lot of main characters and we do meet some supporting people. I kind of wanted to only talk about a few of them but I figured I should go ahead and hit most of the main characters who have been regulars in both seasons.
  • Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the book, but I remember Anne being a bit precocious and annoying and I think Amybeth does that well. She has this dreamy look about her, also a bit awkward so I think she physically fits Anne well. Whenever she talks, she says every word with a dramatic flair. The first time she had to read for class, she stood up and read so dramatically that everyone laughed but I think Gilbert was smitten. Anne puts her heart and soul into everything she does, even when she does the wrong thing with the best intentions. She talks a LOT which is a LOT but usually what she’s saying has some merit, especially in her mind. She has a large imagination and always wants to share it with others. An avid reader, always wanting to learn and very intelligent. She had a sad past which caused a bit of PTSD and I hope in the future she allows herself to talk to someone about it. I really like Amybeth as Anne, she really seems to get the character she’s playing and while it may not be the Anne that purists are used to, (she reminds me a lot of the animated version) but she fits that kind of character. I think she does so well in balancing all the emotions that Anne faces in the show.
  • Geraldine James as Marilla Cuthbert. Of course, Marilla starts off as really mean towards Anne because she didn’t want a girl but a boy. She tries to warm up to her, but it takes a little while and once she really warms up to her, she and Anne have a complicated relationship that shows Marilla isn’t always sure how to handle the outgoing and imaginative nature of Anne Shirley, though I think she handles her very well. In season two, it was very interesting to see how she reacted to the grifters, especially Nate who was the “good looking one” (lol I mean whatever) and he flirted with her and we learn a lot about her childhood and her childhood love and that she might be a bit starved of romance because she really tries different things with her hair for him to notice. We really get to see different sides of her and I hope in season 3, especially with her being sick and having painful headaches, that she takes it easy, go to a hot spring or something and perhaps even fall in love. Geraldine James is great, she can be so hard when Marilla is being mean but whenever she’s sad, you really see it in her eyes. She is fantastic.
  • T. H. Thomson as Matthew Cuthbert. I love Matthew, he is such a sweet man. When he goes to pick up “the boy” and he finds it’s Anne, he is shocked, but he didn’t want to just leave her there. He was way more into keeping her and inviting her into the family than Marilla was, and it was just from that conversation they had on the way to Green Gables. I love how he would just look at her in awe as she talked. Matthew is so quiet, so he is an intense listener and I think Anne and he created a bond that is special. There’s a scene in the first season where he goes to find her because she ran away after Marilla sent her away thinking Anne stole from her and he’s trying to figure out what to say to make her come back with him, and when a cop asks Anne if she was okay Matthew says “She’s my daughter!” and it was so beautiful! It’s one of my favorite scenes. He’s generally always on Anne’s side whenever something happens, he’s always the one to try and do whatever he can to make her happy. R.H. Thomson plays the quiet, awkward man well. Matthew never really knows what to say and you can see him trying to figure it out and I like that.
  • Dalila Bela as Diana Barry. Diana from what I remember is probably the most like her original character, which is fine. She is kind, pretty and friends with everyone. She and Anne manage to connect right away, and Diana is very loyal to Anne and is always willing to teach her things about Avonlea and the people in it. Diana comes from a wealthy family, so she has pretty things and always looks beautiful in her clothes but unlike some of the other girls earlier in the season, she never makes Anne feel bad about her lack of outfit choices. She’s always interested to hear Anne’s stories and participate in her imaginative games, always seems to play the Prince lol. I love Diana, she was always a favorite character of mine because she was so sweet and learned from Anne how to be strong and stand up for herself. I think Dalila Bela is great in the role, I just wish they allow her to do a bit more than what they have her doing right now.
  • Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe. When the show started, I was waiting to see him. We didn’t see him for like two or three episodes but the girls in the class kept talking about him and I’m like “WHERE’S GILBERT!” lol, I remember him being a little bit of a hothead and a bit of a jerk, but I always liked him. So, when we first meet him, he steps in while Anne is being bullied on the way to school. She of course doesn’t talk to him because the annoying girls (who grow on me later) tell her she can’t talk to him because one of the girls like him, he’s intrigued. It’s all over his face and I loved it. When they get to school, he tries to talk to her, but she tries her hardest to ignore him and you can tell he doesn’t like that. So of course, he grabs her pigtails and calls her “Carrots” which is iconic however, he tries to accept the blame when Anne gets in trouble for yelling and slapping him with her slate. It was amazing lol. All in all, I really like Gilbert in this show. I do think they toned down his jerky personality I remember and his temper, though it does seem to be there at times. He’s very smart so he and Anne often go back and forth on trying to outdo each other but I feel like he does little things to make her happy, like misspelling a word during a “Spelling Bee” so she could win. He ends up facing tragedy which allows him and Anne to connect on a different level, but it takes a moment because Anne has “foot in mouth” syndrome lol. He ends up leaving to go work on a steamer to “see the world” because he didn’t want to get stuck in Avonlea, but he does end up returning home after helping a woman deliver a baby, so he wants to be a doctor. I do remember him being a doctor later, so I was like “yasss finally”. I really like the young actor who plays Gilbert. He plays Gilbert very chivalrous but also sad in ways and he has his moment of hotheadedness which I enjoy. I love the way he looks at Anne whenever she’s just talking, I find it super cute. Certain expressions he chooses for the character work well.
  • Aymeric Jett Montaz as Jerry Baynard. He’s one of my favorite characters and he doesn’t even get to do a lot in the show. When we first meet him, he’s the hired hand that Cuthbert’s hire since Anne turned out to be a girl instead of a boy. At first, he and Anne butt heads because she doesn’t like that he’s there since she feels like she could pull her weight as both a boy and a girl, but Jerry is unfazed by her. He’s French so I love his accent and anytime he says something in French, it’s so cute. In season two, we got to see a little more with him, in that he gets mugged by two grifters who ultimately make it to Avonlea and he’s not sure why he’s afraid of them, but he is. I wish they would have done a little more with that. So, I hope to go forward they allow him to do more. This kid is also great, anytime he’s on screen, I think he holds his own and sometimes he’s not doing anything lol. Some of my favorite bits is when he and Anne are traveling and he’s just singing in French and she’s so annoyed.
  • Dalmar Abuzeid as Sebastian “Bash” Lacroix. We meet him in season two when Gilbert meets him on the steamer. He’s from Trinidad and he and Gilbert form an interesting friendship. It really was a way for Gilbert to experience the world and to see that there is more out there besides his little town and that racism is a thing. I think some of the best stuff happens when they get back to Avonlea but while out on the water, he really shares a lot of real world experiences with Gilbert and befriends him and was kind of a “mentor” of sorts while they were out on the water. When they get back to Avonlea the cold weather is a shock to him, but he tries to acclimate lol, but he also gets upset with Gilbert who wants to be a doctor and didn’t stay true to his word about working his land with Bash. So, Bash gets a little side plot where he goes to the “Bog” where all the black people are in Avonlea and has his own story. I liked Bash. He was interesting, and I was surprised that he came back with Gilbert so now I’m curious to see what happens with him in season 3. I like the actor, he was very charismatic.
  • Cory Grüter-Andrew as Cole Mackenzie. He comes in season two, he’s an artist and seems to keep to himself in the beginning. Anne and Diana take a liking to him and befriend him. He’s a very gentle soul and he loves going to school because he doesn’t particularly care for staying home and doing field work, he wants to be in school, he wants to draw. He’s able to find solace in being friends with Anne. He even sketched her once (which made me wonder if he liked her but then I realized, he was struggling with his sexuality). Later, we learn more about him when he goes with Anne and Diana to Aunt Josephine’s party where they discover she and her best friend… Jane? Olivia…. Idk lol were lovers which allowed Cole to realize that he was gay. It was an interesting arc and I’m glad they allowed it to be something that discovered on his own or thought about on his own. He did get bullied a lot from the boys and the teacher (which was ridiculous because he was gay too, but I get it) but he was able to find freedom in the end. I guess we’ll see if he returns in season 3. I thought the young actor did a good job for the most part, whenever I was supposed to feel bad for him, he made me feel that. All the emotional stuff he handled well.
Friendship between Anne and Diana. A big relationship I remember from the book was the friendship between Anne and Diana. They are bosom buddies and kindred spirits and I love how Diana understands Anne to the point that she doesn’t judge her. There are times where she might feel a little unsure of what to do because Anne is so herself whereas Diana grew up in strict household so they’re like different, but they work. I love how passionate they are about being friends, it’s just so pure. When Diana’s mom freaked out about them being friends, it physically pained the both to not be together and I’m like “that’s true friendship” and how without second thought, Diana went to Anne for help when her sister was sick and how Anne, without second thought, did everything she could to help. Amazing.
Shirley-Cuthbert Family. One of the best things about the show is the relationship Anne has with Marilla and Matthew. When Matthew picks her up from the train station, he’s a bit shocked because they sent for a boy but got a girl instead however Matthew was a little more accepting in the beginning than Marilla was. He listened to Anne talk, her imagination was different for him and you could tell that he was just in awe of her. It was quite amazing. It took a little more time for Marilla to warm up to her but when she did, especially after she accused Anne of stealing her family broach, it not only tore her up inside that she sent her away, but she didn’t know what to do when Matthew didn’t return with Anne right away. One of my favorite moments, is when Anne is in a train station reciting poetry for money and Matthew shows up, obviously Anne is hurt that she was sent away, so she kept telling him to go away and when the police asked what was wrong, Matthew said “She’s my daughter”. It was such a beautiful moment because Anne’s expression and the realization on Matthew’s face… ugh so beautiful. Anne and Marilla have some great moments too.
Cinematography. Oh man I think this show is beautiful to behold. Bobby Shore is the cinematographer and some of the shots they get, just wow. There’s a shot where Anne is standing on the ledge of a cliff overlooking the water and the music coupled with the shot in that scene, very memorable. Whenever it snows it’s very beautiful and when Anne first gets to Avonlea, they really show what the world around her looks like, it almost seems like it’s what Anne might see when she’s looking at the world.
Dark Tone. I quite liked the dark tone of the show. It wasn’t always dark, but it had its moments, very realistic. Whenever they showed bits of Anne’s history, it made sense to help show us who she was, or why she was the way she was. I liked how she dealt with things so horribly, but it allowed her to have the kind of experience that would allow her to save children from sickness. I think it fit with this new adaptation of the story.
Cons:
Might be a bit too dark. This didn’t particularly bother me as the show went on but when we got our first flashback of Anne at her old family or in the orphanage, I was kind of shocked. I read the first book back in middle school, I remember loving it and I used to watch the animated show and I loved the 1934 version of the movie with actress Anne Shirley and it had some sad moments but not dark. I can imagine purist having an issue with the dark tone, or that it’s too unlike what they remember that they won’t like it. Going forward, it made sense why they included that with this version of Anne.
Second Season. I don’t think the entire season was bad there was just parts about it that I thought were weak and that it feels too fast in some ways. There are some things I thought were strange. Most of the season had Gilbert on a steamer where he meets Bash and while I don’t mind Bash, I think that whole story line was a little weird. I feel like they did that to have Gilbert realize he wants to be a doctor after he helped a woman give birth in Trinidad. It was great to see some diversity the show lacked, buuuut it just felt out of place. It was… clunky. When they go back to Avonlea it gets better but while Gilbert was gone, I was kind of like “Uh… okay.” There are some other plot points where I’m like “these people can’t be this stupid” or the fact that there’s a lot of messages that felt too on the nose.
More Jerry and Diana! This is only a minor complaint, but I want the show to use Jerry more. I really like that kid. He’s been around since the first season and I liked him from the start. They tried to throw in a little something for him with Anne teaching him how to read and him not trusting the drifters the Cuthberts lodged in their home (there’s a great moment with him and Nate in the barn) but I think they should include more. I’m not into a love triangle between him, Anne and Gilbert, besides I think Jerry likes Diana. As for Diana, I don’t mean them TOGETHER, but I wouldn’t mind that, I just want Diana to be included more. She’s a great character and while I love her friendship with Anne, I would love for her to have her chance. She got to learn a little something about her Aunt Josephine, but I want her to become Diana and not just Diana, Anne’s best friend.
Overall, I really liked Anne with an E and I think it’s a very different adaptation and I think people should give it a chance if they love the world of Avonlea. I understand it might be “too different” but it’s always interesting and cool to see what fans of the source material think and how they might envision the world the author created. I think all the actors do a great job in their roles and I like all the characters, they may annoy me but there isn’t anyone I flat out dislike (out of main people, because that bully kid, Billy I think, I hate him lol). I like the dark tone in some areas because Anne’s history wasn’t happy-go-lucky, and she’s still affected by it. I like the fact that it doesn’t shy away from certain story points but that it confronts them head on. I love the friendship the show built around Anne and Diana which is such a pure relationship that I remember loving from the book and the animated show. I love how loyal they are to each other and how much they love each other to the point where Diana goes to Anne without second thought and vice versa. I love the relationship between Anne and Marilla and Matthew. It was strained at first mostly with Marilla, but I love how it’s still building a strong familial relationship. I didn’t mention this earlier, but I also love the budding relationship between Anne and Gilbert. They don’t always talk but when they do, they manage to be awkward but cute at the same time. The cinematography is also wonderful, the world they’ve built is so beautiful to look at. Now, I can understand why some people might consider it too dark from the world we know in the books and some other mediums. I also think the second season was weaker in places than the first one, I got a little “on the nose” and had some weak plot points that I don’t think the show handled that well. The tone was a little different, but it seemed rushed and out of place… mostly the stuff with the grifters (though I liked that plot, it just was weird) and Gilbert on the steamer. I also would like to see more for Jerry and Diana as they are important in different ways in Anne’s life and we only see Jerry at Green Gables and I would love to know more about his family and his life and see him succeed at reading! Also, just allow Diana to do more than just be Anne’s best friend. BUT I like the show and I can’t wait for season 3!
Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Anne with an E? If so, let me know your thoughts below in the comment section!
Have you seen any other versions of the Anne of Green Gables books?
What classic literature would you like to see adapted into a TV series?
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2 thoughts on “TV Review: Anne with an E (2017)

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