I’m only vaguely familiar with Anne of Green Gables. Anne has been a bona fide cultural icon for over a century, ever since Canadian author L M Montgomery first debuted her in 1908. Anne was orphaned as a baby and in care until age 12 when she is adopted. She experienced a lot of abuse during her time in care.
We don’t have commercial TV or streaming in our home – while we do have internet the limited allowance and expense when adding onto that prohibit our streaming anything beyond a few youtubes and that costs us a lot as it is.
However, I was reading about this version in the all things adoption group I belong to and I became intrigued. The woman who brought this to my attention describes it as – “a very dark portrayal, with depiction of trauma, flashbacks, so many feelings of abandonment, as well as the difficulties her adoptive parents have in relating to her.” That was enough to get me looking into it.
Another woman said – “The first season is the darkest with the flashbacks. As it goes on, it’s not as dark but continues to deal with a lot of other feelings that people not raised by biological family go through. I honestly loved this series. I felt it was a more honest portrayal of children who were in foster care and adopted than I have seen in a long time. This show helped my children discuss the hardships that adopted people or abused/traumatized people deal with.”
Another woman said – “The other depictions we saw didn’t seem to focus so much on the trauma. We listened to the book as we drove up to Prince Edward Island and there’s definite evidence of her struggles in there, but this series took it to another level and made it real and made the connections very visible of past trauma, fear of abandonment, and the inner world she creates to get away from it all.”
Vanity Fair had a review of this series. They note that in the first episode Anne with an E graphically depicts, via chilly flashbacks, the years of abuse Anne sustained before she came to live with the Cuthberts. While Anne likely did suffer some torment during her tenure with the Hammond family, Anne with an E ramps up the trauma by having Mr Hammond die of a heart attack brought about by beating the tar out of poor Anne.
This version retains some of Anne’s eccentricities—a fierce imagination and intricate fantasy life, as well as a fondness for high-flown language. This is an Anne with PTSD. Anne of Green Gables endures as a cozy story that reveals the resiliency of the human spirit through small-scale, domestic victories and setbacks, as well as the mundane, everyday tragedies of human life.
In episode 4, the town’s minister takes misogyny to its historic depiction because Anne doesn’t want to go back to the school where she has continued to suffer abuse. He tells her adoptive mother – “This problem is easily solved. If the girl doesn’t want to go to school, she shouldn’t go. She should stay home and learn proper housekeeping until she marries. And then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone I shall make a helper for him.’ There’s no need for her to bother with an education. Every young woman should learn how to be a good wife.”
The Vanity Fair review complains that “Anne with an E seems to think Anne’s triumphs are only noteworthy if she’s continually told she can’t succeed, when in fact her unfettered brilliance needs no such clumsy opposition.” Judge for yourself. Don’t know if I’ll ever watch this but maybe if it comes out on dvd. Clearly, it spoke to the wounded hearts of the people in the adoption group I belong to.