Emme Gill had endured five years of bullying at school when she first discovered “Anne With an E.” She says she believes the TV series saved her life.
Hailey Cherone found “Anne” when she was in “a very dark place” in her first year of college, feeling lost and unseen, but watching it “made me want to see the beauty in the darkness.”
They’re among many fans from around the world desperately trying to save the show after Netflix and CBC announced its cancellation on Monday.
Since then, they’ve been relentlessly tweeting (#SaveAnneWithanE and #RenewAnneWithanE), sending messages to CBC and Netflix executives, signing petitions, posting Instagram videos and telling everyone they know to watch “Anne” to bump up its viewership.
Whether it makes a difference remains to be seen. Anne Shirley-Cuthbert herself, a.k.a. actor Amybeth McNulty, posted a video telling fans bluntly, “It is the end.”
The CBC also seemed to throw cold water on a renewal of the series, which is based on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” novels and debuted in 2017.
When the Star asked for comment on why the show had been cancelled, an emailed response came from Sally Catto, CBC’s general manager of programming: “While we appreciate the outpouring of support from fans of the show, Netflix and CBC agreed that Season 3 of ‘Anne With an E’ would be the final season.”
TV writer Bill Brioux pointed out on his website that the series hadn’t been a ratings hit for CBC, averaging just over 400,000 viewers per episode in its third season, which just finished on the Canadian network but won’t be seen on Netflix until January.
Netflix, of course, is reliably close-mouthed about streaming numbers.
But the fandom has not been deterred from their campaign.
When the Star tweeted Tuesday night looking for “Anne” fans to be interviewed, responses poured in from Canada, the U.S., France, England, Northern Ireland, Spain, Vietnam, Russia, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Chile and Australia.
The fans were passionate and articulate. They complimented the show’s writing, the acting, the cinematography, but mostly they wanted to talk about how a series about an orphan girl in turn-of-the-20th-century Prince Edward Island incorporated themes that were relevant to 21st-century young people.
Creator “Moira Walley-Beckett took this brilliantly written story from L.M. Montgomery and, without tainting the true innocence of the plot, managed to develop an extremely diverse and progressive message,” emailed 15-year-old Siri Reed from Michigan.
“It teaches young teens (like me) important messages, such as … equality between races, the mistreatment of Indigenous people in residential schools, importance of family, why sexual assault is wrong, importance of friendship, freedom of speech is a human right, why you and YOU ALONE should be the only one who can dictate your worth,” wrote Tam Hunyh, 14, from Vietnam.
Ara Reyes, 17, from Mexico, said “Anne” “spreads love and kindness.”
Jennifer Sandoval from Kansas sang the praises of main character Anne, an orphan adopted by an aging brother and sister, as a role model: “She isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in and uses her voice for those who can’t. Even though she was terribly bullied as a child, she loves others immensely and wants no one to feel left out.”
Wareesha Ahmed from Toronto said she’s come to realize at 22 that she sees herself in Anne. “The kid, now adult, with a vivid imagination and hopeful eyes. The girl who felt like the real world and people in it didn’t understand her the way they did in her imagination. The girl who was hungry to read all the books she could and then re-enact them. The girl who people thought was a little weird, but she was just being true to herself. Anne is me and I’m sure many others see themselves in the characters from this show.”
And it’s not just white characters that people are seeing themselves in.
Teenager Aroa Del Rio from Spain admires the fact that “Anne” not only has Black representation, it “does not use its Black characters as side or minor ones. They are their own characters, with their own depth.”
As a person of colour and an LGBTQ youth, Niki Inamdar from Virginia said, “It’s amazing to see how they interpret sexual assault, misogyny, the struggle of being LGBTQ+ and racism.”
Amy Fisher from Australia was particularly interested in a Season 3 storyline that showed Indigenous character Ka’kwet (played by Kiawenti:io Tarbell) being mistreated at a residential school. “It reminded me a lot of a similar thing that happened here in Australia, it’s something that you don’t see brought up in TV shows very often so I thought it was great to bring awareness to it,” she said.
“It wasn’t putting a filter over what happened,” added Kitty Andrews, 13, from Kent, England. “It was telling it as it really happened and a lot of people didn’t know that took place.”
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And Ashley Moulton, 16, from Michigan, is taking direct inspiration from the show for her efforts to keep it on our screens.
“I think the most important thing ‘Anne With an E’ has taught its fans is to fight to let their voices be heard, which is why we will continue to fight for this show with our own blood, sweat and tears until it is renewed so that Moira can give this story (a) proper and special ending.”
Even if Netflix and CBC aren’t moved by the outpouring of support — and the ball seems to be in Netflix’s court since its provides the bulk of the show’s budget — Walley-Beckett may yet find a way to give fans some closure.
She told EW.com she would love to write an “Anne With an E” finale feature film.
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