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Anne of Green Gables Meets Netflix

When I was growing up and even to this day I love escaping into mythical and imaginary worlds. One of my favourite worlds growing up was Anne of Green Gables. I can remember sitting in the basement of my parents' house watching the VHS recording of the for TV movie of Anne of Green Gables that my grandmother recorded for me to watch. I wanted to be Anne. I wanted her long red hair and quickly became obsessed with freckles. Oh, I wanted freckles so badly that I would use an orange felt pen to draw freckles on my face. Anne shaped me into the person I am today. Growing up as an only child with my parents working as social workers, I was around the talk of adoption and foster care all my life. So much in fact that I was convinced I was adopted. Spoiler! I'm not. But looking back, I feel like I was searching for a way to be more like her. She was and still is my hero.

When I found out that Netflix was partnering with CBC to create a series based on Anne of Green Gables, I was skeptical in the way that one is with childhood memories. Do I want to watch it with the potential that it could completely ruin all of the memories I have involving Anne of Green Gables? Or do I watch it in the hopes that it does the book series justice? I am so glad that I did watch it because it exceeded all expectations that I had. I wish that my grandmother was still around to watch it with me because I know that we would both be obsessed with Anne with an E.

There are three amazing seasons in the series and it addresses many issues that other TV series have shied away from. Moira Walley-Beckett is the creator of this masterpiece and if you think her name is familiar, you're right! She was a writer and producer for the popular TV series, Breaking Bad. Anne with an E was cast with Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley, Geraldine James as Marilla Cuthbert, R.H. Thomson as Mathew Cuthbert, Dalila Bela as Diana Barry and Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe. This cast flawlessly embodies every character the way I always imagined them. The series premiered in March 2017 on CBC and in May 2017 internationally on Netflix. It was renewed for the second season in August 2017, and for the third in August 2018. Shortly after the third season was released in 2019, CBC and Netflix announced that the series was cancelled. This caused an uproar with fans of the series on an international level. There has been an online petition going around to reboot the show in the hopes to catch the eye of Netflix or another streaming platform which has recently reached 1.6 million signatures.

I have done research into why they called it quits on the series and it looks like CBC has cut ties with Netflix. Now because the series is a product of both CBC and Netflix this creates a bit of legal conundrum. So it seems like it may take a while before we see any form of this series continuing, be it in a feature film or television series format. Be that as it may, I see this whole situation as a missed opportunity on CBC's end. The series so far has addressed many issues that are never addressed so obviously in TV! Some of these issues include racism, feminism, the importance of education, gender bias, foster care, human rights, beauty standards, sexual harassment, representation, LGBTQ+ rights, health care, acceptance, censorship, classism, grief, and PTSD. Among these issues and in my opinion, most importantly, they address the history of Indigenous people with a large and educated focus on the residential schools and the effect that they had in Canada. In the final season we meet Ka'kwet, a girl living on reserve with the Mi'kmaq people. After Ka'kwet becomes friends with Anne, she desperately wants to attend school. When the residential school is established in Nova Scotia, she begs her parents to let her go. Ka'kwet soon realizes that this school is not what she signed up for and escapes back to her home and family. It is here that she is faced with imposter syndrome and all of the trauma that she experienced at the residential school. She is then hunted down and forcefully taken back to Nova Scotia by men with guns who also try to capture more children and take them too.

From the research that I did, the writers and producers actually went straight to the source and interviewed Mi'kmaq Elders. To me this shows that the industry is finally growing to respect and educate people properly about minority groups who, in my opinion, have always deserved this respect. It's about f*cking time that people get properly represented in television and film. The way that the Ka'kwet storyline is written, I promise you that you will cry. I believe that people need to know about Indigenous history in Canada and internationally. The crazy thing is that through Anne with an E, people are learning this history and it's not just within North America, it is all over the world. And I think that that is pretty amazing. So my question is, why then is CBC and Netflix cancelling this show? How is this just slipping through the cracks? Why aren't more people angry about this? They left so much open. I know for fact that the books that the show is based on follow Anne Shirley well into adulthood. I implore you, go watch Anne with an E and please, let me know what you think. After, if you feel inclined, go sign the petition and maybe something will come of it.

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