Set in the late 1800’s, Anne With an E tells the story of thirteen-year-old Anne Shirley, an optimistic, talkative girl who comes to live with brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who are in their late 50’s. Despite having requested a boy from the orphanage, the siblings soon fall in love with Anne’s unique, imaginative personality and decide to let her stay with them. As Anne grows up throughout the series, we watch her impact the lives around her with her passionate activism, curiosity, and genuine kindness. Anne struggles to fit in at her school but remains determined in her encouragement of gender equality and inclusivity, and through hard work she begins to make a positive impact in her community. This series shows viewers messages of friendship, feminism, and living life to the fullest.
The characters in this show are wonderfully and realistically written. The familial bond of Anne, Matthew, and Marilla was my favorite character dynamic in the show. It reminded me of the main family dynamic in The Book Thief, as both feature an intelligent, determined young girl who comes to live with a stern but loving maternal figure and a soft-spoken, kind paternal figure. Gilbert Blythe, one of Anne’s friends, is caring and intelligent. After his father gets sick, Gilbert gets a passion for medicine and works hard to become a doctor. Diana, another one of Anne’s friends, struggles with wanting to try new things while not wanting to disappoint her parents’ high expectations of her. Cole, a character introduced in season two, struggles with accepting his sexuality when others judge him. The way that Anne’s open-mindedness, kindness, and optimism changes some of the mindsets in her community is an inspiring way to tell viewers that one voice can make a difference.
There is so much to like about Anne With an E. The characters in this series all have unique backstories and lovable personalities that are easy to get attached to. Even the characters that seemed irritating or unlikeable in the beginning had redeemable arcs, and I was able to empathize with most of the characters at some point throughout the series. Each of them had realistic character development throughout the show, and they were all so well-developed that you feel as though they’re people you know in real life. The actors are charming and have very good chemistry together. The writers did a fantastic job of writing storylines that both related to the 1800s and to present-day, and it was easy to relate to the character’s emotions, even if you haven’t been through similar situations. I also really enjoyed the cinematography of this show. The gentle, colorful feel of Anne’s new home, Avonlea, seems even more peaceful when contrasted with Anne’s flashbacks of her miserable homes in the past. These flashbacks only bolster the viewer’s respect for Anne as we come to admire her kindness and optimism despite everything she’s gone through.
Although this is one of my favorite shows, there are some negative aspects of the series as well. Anne often doesn’t learn from her mistakes, and the show sometimes repeats a lot of her negative storylines. Also, her almost non stop talking is usually funny but can sometimes get a little irritating. The story was a little slow in the first season, although it does get quicker in the later two seasons. There were also a couple of storylines that were never resolved and seemingly forgotten about, although this may have something to do with the show’s cancellation after season three, most likely due to it not having a large enough audience.
Overall, I think that Anne With an E is a beautifully written period piece that’s entertaining, captivating, and realistic. The show displays so many messages about treating others equally and living life to the fullest, and it’s definitely worth a watch. I would especially recommend it if you like period pieces or coming-of-age-stories. You can watch the three-season show on Netflix.