In 2017 I fell disastrously out of love with two popular shows, Game of Thrones and Stranger Things. So to start 2018 off better, I decided to watch Anne on Netflix. I’m going to watch it properly, slowly, and recap each of its seven episodes because I might like it a lot. Or I might not. It’ll be fun to do this with something that I’m not convinced about yet so I don’t end up feeling betrayed.
Anne is based on Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery, and I’m mostly familiar with this animated version of the story:
Which is delightful.
Also the musical version:
Which is also delightful.
So I think my main problem will be that this new Netflix show seems so far to be the dark and gritty reboot of Anne of Green Gables.
On the one hand, Anne Shirley, whose picture is the dictionary definition for both “precocious” and “melodramatic,” would absolutely love this version of her story, if she were real and not a fictional character in a children’s novel. She’s enthralled by gothic romance and is just a little bit quixotic. She’d love her story to be told with more excessive darkness than it usually is.
On the other hand. It’s still a children’s story. Do we really need the scene where one of Anne’s previous “foster fathers” whips her in the front yard? Do we really need the scene where a group of girls dangle a dead mouse in front of Anne and basically threaten to murder her?
No, I’m going to say.
But that’s just me.
Other than that, I really like it so far. My two worries for the upcoming episodes are as follows:
- Now that Anne’s (almost) situated at Green Gables, we shouldn’t need anymore harrowing examples of how difficult life would be for an orphan in the Maritimes in the early 1900s. But I suspect they’ll grittify other things to make up for it, and I don’t know how I’m going to feel about it.
- If they make Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert into tragic figures just because they’re single and childless I might get more than a little mad. First, they aren’t childless anymore because Anne, and second, if they had done what people are “supposed” to do and settled into heteronormative relationships, then Anne would be stuck with Mrs. Byrd or worse, because they probably wouldn’t have had a need to adopt her. Third, it doesn’t need to be portrayed as a tragedy just because it’s not the usual depiction of what a “happy” 60-something’s life should look like.
To be fair on that second point, Marilla does, at one point in the novel, think wistfully about the beau she had when she was young. Once. She can do that once, and she can be anxious about aging without someone to eventually care for her (again, until Anne is cemented there) and still be more or less fine with her life choices. Please.
And on the plus side:
The Mrs. Lynde apology was amazing. The song from the musical is probably my favourite from that show:
“Just make my headstone commonplace. And print my name in lowercase. Without an “e.” Just… leave a… space.”
And yet this show’s version manages to be just as good, without there even being a song!
In this episode, we covered:
- being picked up by a bewildered Matthew at the train station and waxing poetic about a cherry tree;
- crying a lot;
- being overly dramatic about how “ugly” she is;
- being insulted by, insulting, and apologizing to Mrs Lynde;
- Marilla’s constant attempts to be meaner than she is and to not laugh out loud;
- being rude to the hired French boy, who is likely unique to this adaptation;
- meeting the Barrys and pledging eternal love and friendship to Diana;
- and being accused of stealing Marilla’s broach and being sent away.
There’s still green hair, drunk Diana, Gilbert in his entirety, and other school drama to get to.
Well. So far I’m into it.