Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny
I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me
But What Is So Headstrong as Youth?
An Inward Treasure Born
Tightly Knotted to a Similar String
Remorse Is the Poison of Life
Wherever You Are Is My Home
Based on the book Anne Of Green Gables, Anne With An E is an absorbing, poetic series with spunky, misfit Anne (Amybeth McNulty) stealing the limelight for large periods of the show with her excellent portrayal of the young girl. After an impressive feature length opening episode, Anne With An E changes from its finely tuned comedic drama early on, descending into melodrama for the remaining few episodes making for quite the jarring tonal watch. A cliffhanger ending and a profound lack of humour late on does detract a little from the show’s appeal but the characters are really well written which is enough to make for an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
The story begins with a young orphan girl named Anne. Accustomed to her normality of moving from one abusive family to the next, Anne thinks she’s caught a break when she’s allowed to come and work for the Cuthberts. Only, Anne isn’t the orphan the family initially asked for and a disdained Mrs Cuthbert quickly dismisses her. After a little convincing, she begrudgingly agrees to let Anne stay on for a week’s trial to see if she can earn her keep. From here, the 7 episodes increase the drama and tension while slowly dissipating the humour and cheeky verbal quips seen early on. Whether it be Anne adjusting to life at school or the various issues that occur on the farm with the Cuthberts themselves, Anne With An E does an excellent job bringing each of its characters to life and fleshing out their backstories.
Those familiar with the source material are likely to lament the tonal changes to the book though, with a lot of the later episodes shifting focus to the drama and increasing tension rather than embracing the early themes of empowerment and humour in the face of adversity. It’s quite the wild change in tone too with a lot of the later episodes almost feeling like a completely different show. This is only further emphasised by the camera work too which adjusts ever so slightly from steady shots to more hand held and extreme close up shots to accentuate this drama.
What really sets Anne With An E apart from other dramas in this category is the characters. Well fleshed out and compelling throughout, there’s a distinct poetic bounce to a lot of the dialogue and each of the characters change and grow as the series progresses, including a lot of the supporting characters too. This is by far the strongest part of the show and Anne has enough charisma to carry large stretches of the show, even if her humorous quips and alienating colloquialisms do fall by the wayside in favour of the story melodrama.
Overall Anne With An E is a charming series featuring some well written characters and a slowly developing story that embraces its 19th Century setting. Although the series does lose some of its initial charm and humour it embraces early on, there’s enough here to make for an engrossing period drama nonetheless and a unique take on this orphaned girl’s journey to find a family and fit in with those around her.