Have you been watching CBC’s Anne with an E, the wonderful story of the effervescent orphan, Anne Shirley? The same Anne Shirley preteens fell in love with growing up, the same Anne from the 1908 classic, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Unlike the much-loved classic, this adaptation, written by Moira Walley-Beckett, is darker in tone and threads together new narratives, while creating a visceral show that is both real and intimate.
In CBC’s adaptation, viewers are introduced to the red-headed freckled and feisty feminist that Montgomery brought to life, while Walley-Beckett adds a deeper history to the main characters that are not conceived in the original story. However, this addition with its mixed-bag of emotions, adds a beautiful layer to each character: a layer of realness.
The shows intimacy is captured through the flashbacks viewers are exposed to – I use the word exposed, because that is what it feels like. The characters are exposed on a new level to the viewers, a level that we shouldn’t be allowed to see: Viewers witness flashbacks to physical abuse on a young girl; lovers that were unable to unify their love; to regret of words unspoken and actions not acted upon. These past portrayals give viewers an in-depth idea of who each character was before they became who they are in the novel, further solidifying the intimacy of the show. In the novel, readers grow with Anne and share a kinship to her need of belonging, love, friendship and growing up, but while watching the adaptation, viewers share in the universal pain of heartache that is caused by growing up.
I grew up reading Anne of Green Gables and savouring every morsel of her imaginative world that each new chapter brought; after the novel, the movie boxset became an annual movie-a-thon tradition between my mom and I, and I dreamed (still do) of visiting Green Gables in P.E.I and pretending that I am Anne for one day.
In my second year of university, I studied Children’s Literature, to be honest, I registered for the class because Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables was on the syllabus, and like every wanna-be avant-garde feminst student, I decided to write my final paper on Anne of Green Gables. It was a terrible essay on gender-normativity and how Montgomery transcends the ideologies of gender in the form of a Bildungsroman (just a fancy literary term for ‘coming of age’) novel. I may have also argued the homoerotic undertones between Anne and Diana, which contradict the conventional heterosexual binary prevalent of the era. Now you know why I said terrible! If you want to read it, let me know!
Unlike my awful essay, which no one should read, this is a series that everyone should watch, especially if you grew up reading and loving Anne of Green Gables.
If you are watching the show, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show.