Tuesday, June 06, 2017

TV Tuesday: Anne with an E

As I posted a few weeks ago on TV Tuesday, the spring shows have all wrapped up now, the summer shows are just starting this week, and so we have been searching for new shows to watch on the streaming services. I was thrilled to hear about the new Netflix series Anne with an E, which is based on the classic children's novel Anne of Green Gables by H.M Montgomery (my review at the link). I just read Anne of Green Gables for the first time two summers ago, as part of my Big Book Summer Challenge, and I absolutely loved it, so I was excited to hear about this new adaptation. It's wonderful so far.

In case you haven't read the novel, Anne Shirley is an orphan who has had a very tough life. She's been mistreated and brought into homes only to act as unpaid labor for housework and childcare. In the first episode, Anne is traveling by train to the town of Avalon, located on Prince Edward Island, to be adopted by an elderly brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. The problem is that Matthew and Marilla had requested a boy to adopt because they need help with the chores on their farm, Green Gables. Despite the mix-up, Anne herself wins Matthew over quickly at the train station.

Anne is an exuberant, imaginative child brimming with energy and enthusiasm. She has bright red hair (which she detests) and a hard life, but she doesn't let anything get her down. She just plows forward, with a smile on her face, talking a mile a minute. Reticent Matthew, who rarely speaks to anyone except Marilla, is taken aback at first but soon enchanted with this bubbly, kind girl who is so full of life. He brings her home, despite the fact that she isn't the boy they asked for. Of course, this is a problem, and Marilla is more prepared than Matthew to hold the line and get this mistake corrected. The first episode is 90 minutes long and deals with this first very significant conflict in the story. It's no spoiler to say they eventually work things out, since the book is called Anne of Green Gables!

Each episode follows Anne through another new experience filled with potential stumbling blocks: meeting a new friend, passing muster with the judgemental neighbor, and starting at school for the first time in her life. Anne's determination and exuberance often get her into trouble, but there are also conflicts due to her upbringing and background. This small, insular town is not very tolerant of those different than themselves. Some feel sorry for Anne, but many judge her and look down on her. However, for the first time in her short life, Anne has a real family who care about her and a real home.

I have watched 3 episodes so far, including that first 90-miute long one, and am loving the series. Young actress Amybeth McNulty does a fantastic job of bringing the joyful, bursting-with-energy Anne alive on the screen, and Geraldine James and R.H. Thomson similarly seem like the perfect Marilla and Matthew. The casting is excellent, as is the script, some of which I recognize directly from the book. All in all, it's a wonderful production, filled with warmth, humor, and all kinds of issues that are just as important today as they were in the 19th century when this story takes place. It's a great show to watch with your kids, but I am enjoying it fully all on my own, too!

As a Netflix original program, Anne with an E is only available on Netflix.

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