Lucy Maud Montgomery’s early 20th Century bildungsroman novel series, Anne of Green Gables is available on Netflix as a three season mini adaptation: Anne With An E, however, it will break your heart and mend it through a discourse of collectivism, equality, fraternity and love unlike any other series. Highlighting indigenous populaces of Canada, the queer, the misfits, the artists and the rebels in a plot that could rank this show as a pinnacle of soft arts, i.e. literature that excavates the marrow out of life and brings forward ideas of unanimity and endemic solace.
Anne Shirley, a girl child, orphaned too early and condemned to domestic violence in badly run orphanages, turns up at Prince Edward Island and is eventually settled with two aging siblings, the Cuthberts. This is a story of mending hearts, systems, structures and the mind through viable discussions, love and kindness. Anne With An E can be watched as a family show or be binged alone with pizza and candy, but it is set to soothe jaded minds and broken hearts with happy tears and an abundance of smiles. When was the last time you smiled serenely and for a long time?
The show marks a pastoral life, dairy, farming, harvests and nature at work while people meander around the small town. There’s a school for children that plays a vital role in the togetherness vibe where laughing children run and walk to the school occasionally facing bullies and morbid fighting. The life at the village is what someone would love to call normal but the lens of the show zooms in, like the novels zoom in and focus on the boring details of life away from the occasional randomness and into in-depth questions of identity, gender, beliefs, hopes and love. There are many love stories and it’s not a fairytale.
Anne is a highly creative and occasionally intimidating child who’d call a bickering aunt a nincompoop and no one would understand. Anne also helps explore individuality and collectivism through race and sex. The village meets the first black man to walk as an equal around them and it raises questions, poses ideas of homogeneity and above all brings forward the deeply embedded hegemons in the minds of man about fellow human beings who aren’t like himself. Anne’s friend Cole and Aunt Josephine pose questions of alternative preferences in lifestyle, questions about sexual sanity and many hush-hush themes of society and domesticity that in today’s world are being questioned.
The theme song of the show, “We are ahead by a century” somehow summarizes the show that talks about the women suffrage movements in the 1890’s, the liberty of the queer from suppressive gender structures, the liberty of minds and love above all. Love here does not necessarily dwell in romance but gives us characters like Aunt Rachel and Marilla who at sight feel incapable of love but actually are bound in an oblivion of derogatory values and they eventually learn to give back too. Love, as a binding force and a cohesive unit of existence depicts the world from Anne’s eyes where a child can become happy by the sight of a jumping squirrel and instantly sad when the squirrel hides away. Love, as an endemic jurisprudence, that should help build human centric communities that don’t necessarily rely on sham ideas of urbanism but seek light in everyday psychogeographical ameliorations.
Where The Discomfort of Evening, won the Booker Prize 2020 with a relatively pastoral theme and 2020 brought the world at halt, even if for a moment, to rethink and question urbanity, Anne With An E, with a geographical backdrop of nature can enrich the quarantine stuck hearts of people who are questioning psychogeographical belonging. Anne is a wanderer and she has a flânerie too, a group of female friends deriving joy out of the ordinary. Anne is a dreamer, a revolutionary and a lover. Anne With An E should be watched and re-watched to learn, magnify and hope in collective affections.
Rida Akhtar Ghumman is a post-grad student of English Literature based in Pakistan. She can be reached on Twitter and Instagram at @RidaAkhtar_