Anne With An E proves itself to be a rare breed by maintaining its quality over three seasons, while still developing its characters and expanding its cast.
|Air Date (CBC)||9/22/2019 – 11/24/2019|
|Genre(s)||Drama, Comedy, Romance|
|Matthew||R. H. Thomson|
|Gilbert||Lucas Jade Zumann|
|Ms. Stacy||Joanna Douglas|
|Prissy||Ella Jonas Farlinger|
|Aunt Josephine||Deborah Grover|
|Jerry||Aymeric Jett Montaz|
|Minnie May||Ryan Kiera Armstrong|
Even 3 Seasons In, The Show Can Consistently Make You Cry – 93
I don’t think you can praise Anne With An E enough for finding ways to make you emotional without feeling like it is taking advantage of you. What I mean by that is, Anne With An E doesn’t go for cheap tears. Granted, some could, would, and perhaps should, say killing off Mary was cheap. However, outside of that one example, especially in episode 10, we see how the show wants to stir the pot, get you invested and involved, and then force tears out of your ducts.
Prime example: Matthew, in the finale, pushes Anne away as she preps to head for college. As we’ve seen since the beginning, Matthew deeply loves Anne but likely is still dealing with the loss of Michael, whose spirit he likely sees in this rambunctious little girl. If not, in many ways, what Michael was to him, as a light and loving force, Anne reminded him of his brother. So with her going away, you can see him mentally prepping for loss once more, and while there is no malice behind him pushing her away, there is fear that he has given all he has, and now she has no use for him.
Just thinking about their journey, as a father and daughter, it is getting me teary-eyed while watching this.
The Introduction Of Indigenous People – Specifically The Mi’kmaq – 95
When it comes to indigenous people, they don’t even exist in the token system of having one Black, Latinx, or Asian person. They just don’t get spoken about – even on shows that try to be diverse as possible. So to see a storyline focused on the plight of one Mi’kmaq family was not only a pleasant surprise but also a quick history lesson.
One which illuminated the prejudice that many Canadians had, despite the Mi’kmaq, and surely other nations, not really wanting anything but their own space and to trade. And this is yet another example of how the writers and creatives behind Anne With An E know how to both raise you up and then bring you to tears. For with the casting of Kiawento:io Tarbell, you get someone who matches AmyBeth McNulty. Someone who, in a separate show, could do what she has done for the character of Anne and man a show like this.
And that’s the thing with Anne With An E, while most shows chase the drama and creating a sense of shock and awe, this one pursues both character development and world-building. Something that, most shows, only focus on one and ignore the other. But in season 3, we get to see how the Mi’kmaq make a living, learn their customs, hear their language, and see the plight of the genocidal Canadian government trying to wipe out their way of life by making indigenous children hate themselves and their culture. All of which becomes a real mind f***.
It Ends With A Lot Of Things You’ve Wanted To See – 89
Generally speaking, we’re not for fan service, but that is because it feels like it is trying to compensate for mistreating fans. Sort of like a crappy or bland partner drumming things up for Valentine’s Day. However, whether we’re talking about little things like Ruby finally moving on from Gilbert, and finding someone who has an interest in her, or Gilbert and Anne admitting their feelings for each other, there is so much here to make you feel warm and tingly inside.
One big-time highlight, however, was Anne learning about her parents. Mind you, not a whole lot, but when you see her discover something, it creates such a precious moment.
The Diversity of Women This Season & What It Meant To Be A Woman At The Brink of 1900 – 91
Though what you’ll likely love the most is the women. After all, Anne With An E is highly focused on the relationships between women, or girls and women, and what life was like for them on the brink of the century. But, the real kicker here is the show never focused on just one kind of woman.
When speaking of more traditional women, it would break things into social class. We have Eliza Berry representing the upper crust and Marilla in the working class. Then there is the inclusion of Black women. Be them like Mary, who had a business, or her friends who may have worked hard but weren’t basically chained to their post, unless they needed to eat, sleep, or procreate. They had lives, could go out and see their friend who lived a train ride away, and smiled. Mind you, not to keep from crying, but due to joy and bliss.
And beyond them, we also had a Caribbean presence with Hazel. Someone who grew up in times when the fear of white folk was strong, and the PTSD was high, after her husband was lynched. Never mind seeing her change from operating in fear to pursuing this new life her son has. Trying to understand it, see how she can fit in, and find joy in something that, yes, she may not own, but also isn’t something which would be quickly and easily taken from her.
Then, of course, you have girls like Ka’Kwet, Anne, and then women like Ms. Stacy and Prissy. People with curiosity, desire to grow, and while they may have interest in love and companionship, it has no hold on their future. It is something beautiful, like an accessory, and likely they want what Rachel has. Someone who treats you like an equal.
Oh, and speaking of Rachel, there is a strong need to praise her as well. Mostly due to her being the most flawed character on this show, but also somehow being one of the most shrewd, and sometimes progressive. Granted, sometimes she has to get her feeling hurt, or told off, to be any sense of progressive, but the fact remains, her influence likely is why many of the things Anne finds joy in exists. Be it Marilla’s capacity to love a child, which likely was born from her helping Rachel with hers, the fact Ms. Stacy got to keep her job, and probably more than we may ever know. For while Rachel is to blame for Ka’Kwet’s imprisonment, she is also part of the liberation of many a woman in just being willing to use her power without seeking her husband as a conduit.
Leaving one last person to mention: Diana. This season, Diana really gets to be more than this girl fascinated by Anne. She deals with classism and sexism in ways that truly help you understand how difficult life was, even if you were privileged. For one, the way her parents spoke to her made it seem she was property to be polished and maintained until she was bought. Thus making her seem less than human and at her parents’ whims. Which she tried to abide by whenever possible, with minor push back.
Yet, as we saw with Minnie May’s despair in being expected to follow suit, then with Diana’s interest in Jerry, maintaining this sense of perfection as she waits for some wealthy, high status, man, is cruel. For Diana is so much more than proper rearing and beauty, she is one of the smartest in her class. Something shown by her not studying like the rest and still getting into college. And just think about it, combine her social skills, etiquette knowledge, with that intelligence, Diana really could be groundbreaking in a multitude of ways.
Anne Sticking To Advocating For Josie – 88
In the season, Josie is being courted by Billy, and he gets hands, so Josie pushes him away. This bruises his ego, so he spreads a malicious rumor, and while Anne and Josie have long had a frenemy thing going, Anne decides to speak out against sexism, in a public way – through written word – and this leads to mass embarrassment. Yet, being that Anne’s intentions lead to consequences she wasn’t expecting, she tries to apologize to Josie, who takes a reputation lashing due to Anne’s words, and in return, Josie smacks the mess out of Anne to the point her freckles likely connected for a couple of hours.
Yet, despite her apology being met with violence, she didn’t stop advocating for Josie, and that really shows you the heart and soul of the show. It’s about addressing what was wrong in society then, and even now, and being willing to continue despite any pushback or threats. Because, let’s be real, progressive shows of this ilk often get cancelled just as they are really starting to get going.
But, even with that becoming increasingly common, especially if the show can be marketed to young people, they continue to push people’s ways of thinking, show comradery, how people can forgive, trust, and learn, and while Anne is never a pure and shining example, she is someone worth taking significant note of for her attempts. Even if the person who would benefit from your work spits at it.
Hazel & The Changing Of How Black People Saw Their Place In Society – 87
Like with getting to see the life of the Mi’kmaq, it was beneficial to see how the changing of things affected Black folk. Which for this show isn’t new, Sebastian and Mary paved the way since Gilbert felt like an outlier when he really was, for them, just a first. But, with Hazel, you got a chance to see that rare depiction of someone not used to the kindness of white people enter a world where there could be harmony. And in her journey, with Marilla, Rachel, and her own son, like with Ka’kwet, you got a story which was given the kind of respect that reminded you Anne isn’t the center of the universe. If anything, she is someone whose love and curiosity opens her up to many people and cultures, all of which are rich and complicated beyond what she can fully understand but can appreciate.
Which Anne With An E consistently made a point to do for nearly everyone.
The Relationships Between A Black Mother & Her Son – 86
When it comes to pieces about the late 1800s or early 1900s for Black people across the diaspora, especially in the Americas, slavery is usually the focus, and everything else is secondary. So to watch Mary and Elijah’s complicated relationship or Hazel and Sebastian’s, it felt like the rare opportunity to see family dynamics between a Black woman and her son without the influence of some kind of master.
Now, this isn’t to discount Hazel being stuck in a similar position to what she would have had if she was enslaved, but with Sebastian confronting her about how he was raised, her way of thinking, and her place in his life at present, it created so many powerful moments. The same goes for Elijah and Mary. With her situation of having a child out of wedlock, again, we got a perspective rarely seen on television. One which wasn’t even just for a single episode or put in the background. Anne With An E made it a consistent and ever-growing storyline.
So Many Unresolved Things – 69
With its recent cancellation, many things have gone unresolved that were just being introduced. One example being, we finally got to meet one of Rachel’s children this season but didn’t truly get to know them or how Marilla’s place in their life may have affected things. Also, Matthew’s relationship with Jeanie disappeared. From there we can mention this friendship, that could become a relationship, between Ms. Stacy and Sebastian, Rachel bringing Marilla into local government, with additional spots for unnamed women, and a slew of other things. Such as, did Tillie ever pick a boy? All of these questions and more could have been handled in season four but also could have been fleshed out this season.
Mary’s Passing – 65
A part of me strongly feels that Mary’s death was used to bring Hazel back into the fold, bolster Elijah, and just generally complicate things for Sebastian. That left me with mixed feelings, for we haven’t really gotten to know Mary much, beyond being Sebastian’s love interest – until she died. And with her, until Hazel came about, being one of the few Black women we consistently saw, her death being used to spark the storylines of others just made me uncomfortable. Particularly since they could have kept her alive and still brought on most of the stories, sans Muriel and Sebastian’s relationship.
On The Fence
It Felt Like, With Getting To Know Ka’Kwet & Her People, It Meant Cole And The Queer Storyline Was Put On A Shelf – 77
We see Cole maybe two to three times this season, and it is usually to support Anne. As for his own life, continuing from where we left season 2? That isn’t really seen here. Yes, Cole seems to have a bit more flare, and we get a taste of what his life is like with Miss Josephine, but never to the point where it is truly satisfying.
Leading you to wonder if the show is, rather was, operating on focusing on one marginalized group season by season? The first season being the only exception for it was building up Anne, but with season 2 focusing on the Black experience in Canada, as well as what it meant to be queer, the 3rd on the indigenous, and who knows where the 4th could have gone?
However, there is a need to question, in the 4th, with people going to college and more new life experiences, would that have meant the return of a more active Cole? Could the show have balanced all these different lives and cultures or, like with this season, would one be put on the backburner?
Meeting Characters’ Family – 76
Piggybacking off the last statement, Anne With An E, as it expanded, was showing signs of the issue it could be bloated. For with meeting one of Rachel’s sons, came the question of where is the rest? With meeting Jerry’s family and Diana’s interest in him and them, so came the need to wonder would we get to know them as individuals? Add in us barely getting to know Josie’s family, seeing a bit more of Billy’s home life, and not seeing Ruby’s folks since the fire, it adds up. Leading you to wonder, who are the valued members of the cast and who are having their families shown just to prove they exist?
The Show Sometimes Feeling Preachy – 75
Anne With An E is a progressive show which doesn’t operate in some fantasy world, as shown by the racism, sexism, and classism that exists, but it pushes things to the point where Anne may not win, but she does make a difference. Admittedly, sometimes it seems the only reason she makes a difference is because she is the lead character and she can’t fail left and right. Yet, at other times, while taking place over a hundred years ago, Anne With An E sometimes feels like it is trying to rebuke present times and shame them for how little things have changed. Which, in a way, you can appreciate. Yet, at times, it is hard not to believe people are changing less due to Anne and more so because the writing says so.
Met Expectations – 100
I honestly believe, Anne With An E is one of those few shows that not only meet, but exceed your expectations, and consistently do it. This isn’t to say it is perfect, but there is such an effort to take its cast and their characters seriously and acknowledge the world they are in, that in the pursuit of quality, it damn near achieves perfection.
Trajectory – 94
Consider the fact Anne is in a new place, at the college level, and may have a boyfriend. That alone means so many new storylines, points of view, and with Lucy, the deaf housekeeper, a new culture to explore. Then, outside of Anne, there is Marilla and Matthew dealing with an empty house, Ms. Stacy having new kids, Sebastian running the farm with his son in law, and maybe having friendly chats with Ms. Stacy, and us watching everyone’s reaction, and I could go on and on.
Needless to say, there was a lot left for Anne With An E to do, and, unfortunately, we won’t see it all. Granted, creator Moira Walley-Beckett has talked about a feature film, but it seems highly unlikely to happen if CBC and Netflix don’t find a means to reconcile. And considering how CBC head Catherine Tait has talked about Netflix, and their relationship, it seems highly unlikely we’ll get that movie.
Rating: Positive (Watch This) – Recommended
While it might be over, what Anne With An E has given us in terms of stories and actors whose career I’m sure we’ll all be carefully watching, those are things which will last forever. So while it stinks CBC couldn’t work things out with Netflix, it is their decision since this is, essentially, their property, and Netflix is just their co-producer in giving this an international audience.
But, blame aside, which shouldn’t all be Netflix’s, I’m just saying, truly this is one of the best shows we have seen, especially in terms of having multiple seasons and never really feeling like it hit a slump. Hence the recommendation that doesn’t just apply to the season, but the show.
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