Based on the novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Netflix had announced last year that they would be creating their own series about the spirited, red-headed orphan, Anne Shirley. The original series from Kevin Sullivan aired in 1985, then PBS offered a rebooted version in the Fall of 2016.
Now Netflix has now offered up their own version of this timeless tale, ‘Anne’, that is set to stream starting on Friday, May 12th.
As a kid, this movie became a big part of my life. It was more than just a story about a precocious young girl looking for her place in the world. Anne Shirley was a dreamer, and Green Gables was a place for kindred spirits. I would sit and watch the airings on PBS with my grandmother with wide-eyed wonder, enjoying all the ups and downs of Anne Shirley’s world right along with her. We both loved everything about the series; from the characters and story, right down to the Provence where the tale was based.
For my tenth birthday, my grandparents took me on a trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada to explore Lucy Maud Montgomery’s home and the inspiration for the story itself. We walked the same lush green paths that Anne did and visited the red sand beaches and cliffs where she wrote her poetry and daydreamed with her bosom friend, Diana. There was a magic to Green Gables and to the story that Kevin Sullivan told back in the 80s. There is a charm and nostalgia in the novels and the original series that seems unmatched by other incarnations of the story. I worry that this new one on Netflix may also be lacking that special something.
After watching the trailer a few times, I’m struggling to put my finger on exactly why I don’t feel as excited for this new Anne. There is something heavier that hangs over Netflix’s series that wasn’t there in the original. Some of the classic scenes, like when Anne breaks her slate over Gilbert’s head, was done in a way that makes it feel more like an act of violence instead of the gut reaction that it was in Sullivan’s version. It’s definitely grittier than the original, and while that works for some reboots, I can’t help but wonder if ‘Anne of Green Gables’ is the right series to try it on.
I will still watch all eight episodes when it’s available to stream on May 12th and I will do so with an open mind. When all is said and done, I love the story of Anne and how she came to be at Green Gables. And, after all, isn’t the point of a reboot to see a story told in a new, different way? Present familiar material with a new spin or angle?
What do you think? Will Netflix’s ‘Anne’ live up to the Anne Shirley we all know and love?
Writer of stories, watcher of TV. I am an avid horror and sci-fi junkie who’s been riding with the Winchesters since their dad went on a hunting trip in 2005. Current obsessions are The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files and The Dark Tower movie. Find me on twitter – @jryan_author – for your daily dose of sarcasm and poems about my unnatural love of coffee.