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Series / Anne with an E

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...with an "E"

A Canadian series which first aired on television in March of 2017 and was distributed worldwide as a Netflix original two months later. Anne with an E (known simply as Anne in Canada) is based on the classic literary series Anne of Green Gables.

Set around the turn of the century, the series stars Anne, a precocious orphan child under the guardianship of the tough but fair Marilla Cuthbert and Matthew Cuthbert, albeit by accident as they were looking for a farmhand boy. After an initially cool reception, the Cuthberts warm up to their new ward — but Anne will still face challenges as she settles in to the idyllic town of Avonlea.

Starring Amybeth McNulty as Anne, Geraldine James as Marilla, R.H. Thomson as Matthew, Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert, and Dalila Bela as Diana.


This series contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Essentially, if there is potential for some more drama than in the original material, it will come to fruition.
    • Anne, who was The Pollyanna in the books, is more clearly haunted by her traumatic past in this adaptation.
    • Gilbert, whose father dies during the series and faces questions about what he wants to do in life as a result.
    • The Cuthberts, due to their dead brother, their financial problems, and Matthew's attempted suicide near the end.
  • Adaptational Diversity: This adaptation adds black and indigenous characters and a classmate of Anne's is gay. Aunt Josephine also had a female partner in this adaptation.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Most characters, excluding Anne, Diana, Gilbert and Mrs. Lynde, have their moments.
    • Marilla doesn't just banish Anne from going to a picnic over the stolen brooch - she kicks the girl out of her house, making her go back to the orphanage by herself even though it's obviously unsafe (we are promptly shown Anne encountering an implied paedophile on that journey) and Matthew goes along with it.
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    • The drunkard Mr. Thomas is shown to be also physically abusive to Anne in her flashbacks. The girls in the orphanage are also shown to have actively been bullying Anne.
    • Billy Andrews, Charlie Sloane and most of the boys besides Gilbert are misogynistic bullies to Anne. Josie Pye isn't the lone Alpha Bitch either, most of the girls are unpleasant as well, whereas the girls warmed to Anne much quicker in the book.
    • Minnie May Barry, Mrs. Barry and most of Avonlea's inhabitants look down on Anne for being an orphan and openly trash talk her.
  • Adults Are Useless: While Anne's educated rescue of a child from a common childhood ailment casts doubt upon the adults, the crowning moment is when she runs into a burning building to close the doors and windows, allowing the fire to die out. Even in the 1890s, this was a known firefighting technique.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Adults and children alike give Anne a hard time for being an "uncouth" orphan, often directly to her face.
  • Alpha Bitch: Josie Pye styles herself as the leader of the girls, as the eldest and prettiest among them. She spends most of her debut in the third episode making snide comments about Anne before outright shunning her.
  • Animal Motifs: In season 2, Anne empathizes with a lonely red fox as her sort of spirit animal.
  • Ascended Extra: Jerry Baynard, the Cuthberts' young French farmhand, who becomes something of a surrogate brother to Anne. The Cuthberts did have a hand named Jerry Buote in the books, but he's only mentioned in passing.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Mr. and Mrs. Barry are not happily married due to a combination of Small Town Boredom and the era's strict gender roles. They seem to have kept their discontent in check for years, but their feelings finally boil over in Season Two after being swindled out of their savings.
  • Blithe Spirit: Anne easily wins the hearts of the Cuthberts, Diana, and Gilbert with her free thinking, lust for learning and sense of imagination, but this trope is deconstructed with the rest of Avonlea; the whole town is so steeped in tradition that it's people view Anne's freshness as an unwelcome intrusion in their quiet lives.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Ruby (blonde), Diana (brunette), and Anne (redhead).
  • Boomerang Bigot: The village schoolteacher is exceptionally cruel to Cole. They are both gay, and Cole correctly realises that the teacher lashes out at him out of internalised homophobia.
  • Butt-Monkey: Moody Spurgeon, a boy in Anne's class, is Born Unlucky, now helped by his slow wit. In Season 2, he's fortunately given more depth and becomes a friend to the girls.
  • Canon Foreigner: Several.
    • Matthew and Marilla have a dead older brother in this adaptation, who is implied to be the reason they wound up emotionally remote and single.
    • Anne's friend Cole MacKenzie who attends the school from Season 2.
    • Bash Lacroix, who Gilbert meets in Trinidad in season 2, and his wife Mary. Also Mary's son Elijah and Bash and Mary's daughter Delphine, who is born between seasons 2 and 3.
    • Ka'Kwet and her family.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Cole's broken hand ends his dream of becoming an artist as he can no longer draw. Subverted in that he takes up sculpting instead as it also acts as physiotherapy to rebuild the strength in his hand. And after he moves in with Aunt Jo, she pays for him to go to Art School.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The fox in Season 2 doesn't become important until the end of the season.
  • Chekhov's Gag: When Anne is accepted into the Cuthbert family, the trio drinks cordial to commemorate the occasion. Anne remarks that she could "get used to this". A few episodes later, she mistakes a bottle of wine for the cordial and shares it with Diana for their tea party. Hilarity Ensues, until Diana's mother finds out and they're kept from each other for a month.
  • Chick Magnet: Gilbert Blythe. Most of the girls at the school are seen giggling over him and giving him the eye. He's so charming even Diana isn't immune, despite the fact that she's meant to be ignoring him out of loyalty to Anne.
  • Child by Rape: Heavily implied to be Ruth's situation in "The Painful Eagerness of Unfed Hope," given her fear of Gilbert because he's a white man.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Diana Barry wears blue, Ruby Gillis wears pink and orange, and Anne wears brown and green on special occasions.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Despite the length of the source material it's based on (the first book in the series is a little over 300 pages, somewhat hefty for a children's book), the first season ran for only six episodes; much of the book's more lighthearted fare was compressed or outright omitted in favor of expanding Anne's past, which wasn't focused on in the books, or introducing Darker and Edgier situations more realistic to the hardships of the time.
  • Consummate Liar: This version of Anne is an expert liar, a skill rooted in her expert storytelling ability. This helps a lot in the first season finale when she is able to pawn simple household items for a lot more than they're worth by convincing the shop owner that they're priceless historical artifacts.
  • Cool Teacher: When Mr. Phillips leaves Avonlea in disgrace after Prissy leaves him at the altar, the schoolhouse get a new teacher, Miss Stacy. A modern, openminded woman who wears trousers instead of corsets, rides a motorbike and makes lessons interactive to help her students learn better, Anne takes to her immediately.
  • Cope by Pretending: Anne copes with her loneliness by speaking to her reflection in a mirror as though it's a friend.
  • Daddy's Girl: Just like in the source material, Anne quickly makes an impression on Matthew, and they are more emotionally connected than Anne and Marilla.
  • Darker and Edgier: Although the series is not without humour and light, Anne's unhappy childhood has dramatically affected her in this present portrayal, unlike the Pollyanna Anne is in the books. She suffers frequent flashbacks to the abuse she suffered under the Hammonds and in the orphanage. Anne also faces significant prejudice from the townsfolk and bullying from her school peers, due in part to her background as an orphan and her awkward social skills. Not to mention a house fire, the death of a parent, the prospect of losing your own property, child predators, criminals mugging a child, and the like. A far cry from the much lighter and carefree material from the purely slice-of-life, idyllic books, which, though not without their serious moments, were far more focused on relationships and lighthearted adventures.
  • Death by Adaptation: Gilbert's father John lives to see his grandchildren in the books, but dies late in the first season.
  • Death by Despair: Marilla and Matthew's mother went catatonic after their older brother died and wasted away in bed after a year.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Avonlea is appropriately misogynist and discriminating against orphans as was the norm for the time. Some of the main characters express racist views towards the Mi'kmaq in season 3.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Marilla Cuthbert is straight-laced and staunchly practical, but warming up to Anne slowly softens her into a caring aunt figure. She can even step up and be a Mama Bear when the situation demands it.
  • Delivery Guy: Gilbert delivers a baby in Trinidad.
  • DIY Dentistry: Bash tries to remove a bad tooth with string and a slammed door. It works, but he also gets a bad infection and has to see a doctor anyway.
  • Double Meaning: The spelling words set by Anne's teacher - Amorous, Gorgeous - are clearly meant to be seen as flirting by the schoolgirl with whom he is having a Teacher/Student Romance.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: Anne is daunted by the idea of practising long division in school, not because she's bad at math, but because she's never had a formal education until now.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Anne getting herself and Diana drunk was clearly an accident and nothing bad came of it, but Diana's propriety-obsessed mother forbids Diana from seeing Anne because of it.
  • Fiery Redhead: Anne is this in spades, given her independent and imaginative nature.
  • First Period Panic: Anne panics badly when she gets hers; she thinks that she is dying.
  • First World Problems: When Anne is whining about how much she hates school (which she isn't attending willingly at the moment) and how much easier everything is for boys, Jerry the stable boy looks at her like she's a Spoiled Brat and points out how he is a boy and has no chance to get the education that she is throwing away.
  • A Friend in Need: The season 1 finale showcases this, fitting with the Christmas theme. Anne, the Cuthberts, and Jerry try to raise money to prevent the bank from taking Green Gables by selling livestock and heirlooms, but can't scrape up enough until the neighbours pitch in. Marilla is against the very idea from the start, but Anne finally shuts down her pride by telling her there is a difference between taking charity and accepting help from loved ones.
  • Gentle Giant: Cole is taller than the other boys at school, but he's a quiet artist who needs to be pushed to violence.
  • Giant Poofy Sleeves: The latest fashion in the show's setting. Anne desperately falls in love with them and begs Marilla to make her a dress with puff sleeves.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Subverted with Anne. She wears her hair in pigtails while the other girls have hairbows- but Anne is the most tomboyish of the bunch.
  • Good Is Old-Fashioned: Anne and the good-natured Cuthberts qualify for this trope. As the Cuthberts are an over-the-hill pair of siblings, they wear noticeably simpler fashions much like Anne and her hand-me-downs.
  • Gossipy Hens: Rachel Lynde keeps her ear to the ground so she can always have an opinion of the latest news. It's quite telling of her nosiness when Matthew goes to talk with Rachel first when he needs to find out why Anne is suddenly Avonlea's undesirable after one day of school.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Anne learns this both physically (when she starts her period and suffers cramps and mood swings) and emotionally (realizing she has to apologize to a woman she yelled at for insulting her simply because it's the mature thing to do).
  • Henpecked Husband: Rachel Lynde's husband, Thomas, is quieter and more mild-mannered than his wife and gets regularly bossed about by her, but he is content not to think for himself, so they're Happily Married.
  • Hot for Student: Anne's teacher and one of his students, Prissy, are courting in secret. When Anne catches them on her first day of school, she inadvertently starts a whisper chain.
  • Imaginary Friend: Just as in the books, Anne calls her reflection Katie Maurice, and talks to "her" in times of stress or loneliness.
  • Imagine Spot: Prone to flights of fancy, Anne can get lost in her daydreams and distracted from the world around her. It seems to have been a coping mechanism for her while in the orphanage and working as a servant for various foster families.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Wanting to make Anne feel truly at home, Marilla and Matthew invite her to write her name in their family bible. Anne is so happy she nearly breaks down in tears.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Diana is a sweet girl and a loyal friend to Anne, but as a result of being sheltered by her proper mother, she doesn't always notice when something she finds normal is making Anne uncomfortable.
    • Anne trying to comfort Gilbert after the death of the latter's father backfires massively when she's not able to understand his feelings at first since she has been an orphan her entire life and cannot empathize with losing a parent.
  • Large Ham: Anne is an extremely loud and dramatic person in a village full of proper, old-fashioned country people.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In one of Anne's flashbacks, Mr. Hammond collapses from a fatal heart attack in the middle of beating Annie.
  • Lessons in Sophistication: This is a source of conflict between Diana and her parents in season 3; they want her to go to finishing school in Paris, and she does not want to go.
  • Love Triangle: Gilbert has transparent feelings for Anne. She shares the attraction but vehemently denies it, partially because he called her "Carrots", and partially because Ruby, her classmate and Diana's friend, has a huge crush on him and Anne does not want to risk being ostracized as a man-stealer.
  • Maiden Aunt: Diana's Aunt Josephine is a classic example; stuffy, grouchy, and having never married. Later subverted, when Anne discovers Josephine is a Cool Old Lady, and she is only technically an old maid because she was secretly in a relationship with her female lover.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: In a contrast to the orphaned Anne, Jerry comes from a large, poor family. His siblings have to work to feed them as a result.
  • The Matchmaker: Anne tries to bring Matthew and his old schoolmate Jeanie together by responding to her letters behind his back. She's caught quickly and, although Jeanie is forgiving, Matthew is furious with Anne for the first time for such meddling and deceit.
  • Miss Conception: Abound in "I am Fearless and therefore Powerful", where none of the schoolgirls know which courtship rituals lead to pregnancy and, with a school dance coming up, they seek knowledge of how to avoid it.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Marilla's reaction when she finds her lost brooch she accused Anne of stealing, meaning she just condemned the poor girl to the orphanage for nothing. Her expression says it all in lieu of words.
  • My Hair Came Out Green: As in the book, Anne's attempt to dye her hair black results in it turning green instead.
  • New Season, New Name: In the first season, the CBC aired the series as just Anne instead of the international title Anne with an E. In the second, the CBC shifted to the same title that was used everywhere else.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted and how. Anne getting her first menstrual period is the focus of the fifth episode. Later she and her friends discuss when they got hers — only Ruby has not started yet.
  • Not Helping Your Case: While it was wrong of Marilla to accuse Anne of stealing her brooch, she did admit to have been playing with it, something that Marilla explicitly told her not to do.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Anne's remembrances of the orphanage are not happy ones — older girls tormented her verbally and physically, and Anne is too afraid of the place to return after Marilla throws her out.
  • Parental Abandonment: Ma and Pa Shirley died when Anne was only a few months old, leaving her alone in the world and at the mercy of a series of cruel foster families.
  • Playing Sick: Diana pretends her ankle is worse than it really is so she can stay at the Baynards'.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Not only is Nathaniel a brute and a con man, but he terrorizes French-Canadian Jerry with racist slurs.
  • Power Walk: In the season 2 finale, Anne, Ruby, Diana and Moody are shown in slo-mo striding down a sidewalk in Charlottetown while on a mission to save Miss Stacey's job.
  • Runaway Bride: Prissy runs away from her wedding to Mr. Phillips (the schoolteacher).
  • Rushed Inverted Reading: Just before the Cuthberts surprise Anne for her birthday, Matthew is pretending to read and his book is upside down.
  • School Marm: Miss Stacey who takes over the Avonlea schoolhouse from Mr Phillips.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Anne loves to read and has an excellent memory for the large words she encounters ("twenty-five cent words," as Diana calls them). Anne also has a penchant for using those big words in casual conversation and when introducing herself to new people.
  • Setting Update: While relatively minor, the initial setting seems to be bumped up two decades to the mid 1890s. (first novel was set in the 1870s) This is made clear in episode 6, where a fresh tombstone places that episode in 1896.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: While a girl from a small town's wealthy family instead of an aristocrat, this describes how Diana starts out. She's certainly sheltered, as her mother keeps her away from the slightest impropriety, but learns through befriending Anne how much grander life can be. Diana is frustrated with her sheltered-ness in "Memory Has as Many Moods as The Temper," after learning she never realized her aunt was in a relationship with another woman and she has no aspirations aside from becoming the respectable lady and housewife her mother is raising her to be.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Gilbert's father is beset with this kind of illness, featuring a lot of bedridden shots and an Incurable Cough of Death.
  • Sour Prude: Diana's mother. The "Prude" is her obsession with propriety and having herself and her daughters be seen as respectable ladies, and the "Sour" is her compensating for her husband's lack of respect by buckling down on everything she has control over, e.g. the household and Diana's education.
  • Splash of Color: After Prissy runs away from her wedding the shot is entirely white (snow and her wedding dress) until her sister Jane Slow Motion runs in wearing yellow and the girls join her in brighter colours.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • After Anne flees the school and vows never to return, Marilla asks the local priest to have a talk with Anne and convince her to start attending class again. This backfires for Marilla, as the priest is rather old fashioned and expresses the view that Anne ought to stay home instead, learning the skills she'll need as a wife instead of reading and doing arithmetic. (In a roundabout way this prompts Anne to go back to school, as she has no desire to become someone's little wife.)
    • Billy also says this word-for-word to Ruby and Anne in the fourth episode.
    • Prissy Andrews is discontent with being reduced to a pretty face by her mother when she wants higher education to become a teacher. Mr. Phillips forbidding her from this dream to be his wife is the final nail in their nuptials' coffin.
  • Surprise Party: The girls throw Anne one for her sixteenth in the first episode of season 3.
  • The Power of Friendship: A major theme in the show is the friendship various characters form with each other, even despite their differences (be it through class, race or gender). Anne and Diana's friendship is a major recurring friendship on the show, becoming close like dear sisters who stick together throughout thick and thin.
  • They Should Have Sent A Poet: — and a poet Anne is. The show is full of beautiful shots of the Canadian countryside, but the first episode invokes the trope most heavily as Anne travels the road leading to Green Gables for the first time. She is overcome with emotion at the sight of the blooming trees that line the road and Barry's Pond in the sunlight, and tells Matthew that she'll call the road "The White Way of Delight" and the pond "The Lake of Shimmering Waters" instead.
  • Trauma Button: There seem to be a handful of things that cause Anne to slip into unhappy remembrances of her childhood. Hearing babies cry causes her to remember the cruel Mrs. Hammond and her young children, and an offhand comment from Marilla makes her think of the day she was returned to the orphanage.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Invoked by Ruby, who remarks that Gilbert is even more handsome "now that he's sad."
  • Unknown Rival: Anne is this to Jerry at first, believing his hiring as a farmhand jeopardizes her chances of staying on at Green Gables, even though he has no idea why she's so short-tempered around him. Despite him being nothing but a Nice Guy, her enmity to him lasts an absurdly long time until his mugging at the hands of a couple of thugs softens her up.
  • Unusual Euphemism: After Anne and Diana catch a glimpse of Prissy and Mr. Phillips holding hands in the supply closet, Anne assumes the two are engaging in "intimate relations" and must be "making a baby." She also mentions that Prissy must already be acquainted with his "pet mouse." At lunchtime she explains to the other girls that her former "employer" Mrs. Hammond told her that men have a pet mouse in their front trouser pocket, and that touching the mouse results in pregnancy.
  • Uptown Girl: Teased between Diana and Jerry. More so in Season Three, after only hints in past seasons.
  • Why Couldn't You Be Different?: A rare adoption variant. The Cuthberts originally intended to adopt a boy as they needed a farmhand, but the orphanage sent Anne instead because of a case of broken telephone. This caused considerable tension in the first episode.
  • Woman Scorned: Josie is quick to turn her bullying on Cole when he makes it clear he's not interested in her. Not girls, just her.

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