If you were looking forward to enjoying a light hearted watch of Anne with an E (an adaptation of the novel Anne of Green Gables), you are in for a slight surprise. With a darker and much more murky version of the original novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery, this Netflix series counts on modern thinking and melancholic sequences to make it work.
But this is not to say that the show doesn't have its lighter and feel good moments - it does in plenty, amid beautifully captured shots.
Set in the alluring (and fictional) village of Avonlea, this series revolves around the 13-year-old protagonist Anne, who is mistakenly sent to the middle aged siblings Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, who had originally asked for a boy to help out at the farm. It follows the antics and coming of age story of Anne, who with her quaint but charming ways and voracious vocabulary persuades them to let her stay.
The portentous mood of the show can probably be explained by its producer Moira Walley Becket (producer of Breaking Bad series) who had wanted to create a more dark and dramatic version of the story. "All the darker aspects of the story are inherently in the book, so I’m not actually reinventing the wheel; I’m just taking us there," she told the Entertainment Weekly.
One can't help but fall in love with Amybeth McNulty who does full justice to the red headed, outspoken and imaginative Anne with her brilliant acting and well delivered dialogues. While RH Thomson fits into the role of Matthew Cuthbert as a gentle and diffident man exceptionally well, Geraldine James is quite the stern and 'no-nonsense' woman as Marilla Cuthbert. Corrine Koslo (as Rachel Lynde), Dalila Bela (as Diana Barry), Aymeric Jett Montaz (as Jerry Baynard), Lucas Jade Zumann (as Gilbert Blythe) and the others have also donned their roles moderately well.
The series go on to make Anne's past more dark and tragic than how it was originally written in the book. Flashback scenes of Anne being beaten over a tree stump and other shots of her being bullied by the children in the house are shown in such a way that it lends a brooding tone to the story.
The series has made quite a few changes in the storyline as well. While in the original story, Anne is never sent back for misplacing Marilla's brooch, it becomes an adventure tale of its own in the series. Also, while she becomes friends with the people of Avonlea quite easily in the book, the series portrays the village folk as mean and bullying in the beginning.
Whole the series sticks to the themes in the book, it has tried to address the contemporary issues of our time. One of the best examples is how they have stressed on the importance of education for women (by moving away from voting rights for women as it was originally in the book) and the need for a woman to be independent and self-sufficient.
There is more than one instance in the show when Anne says that "girls can do anything a boy can do and more" and other strong characters like Miss Barry who advocate that marriage is a choice and that one should be self-reliant first.
But at the same time, there are some other scenes which reinforce certain stereotypes about gender - like the case where Anne tells one of her friends to choose pink for her bedroom, which needs to be done away with.
There are a lot of instances when Anne is looked down upon for being an orphan and the baggage which comes along with it. The issue of bullying and body shaming has also been brought into fore by illustrations of Anne being picked on by her classmates for her "carrot" hair, or her petite frame, which makes her think that she looks ugly. The series has delivered the message well in terms of Anne being bold and standing up for herself, in a loud and clear manner.
So, while the series has it flaws, it is still worth a watch if you would like to be transported back to the age of childhood classics and relive the 'good old' days of Anne of Green Gables one more time.