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TV Series Review

It's been said that when life gives us lemons, we should make lemonade.

But why, asks Anne Shirley, stop there? Why not make lemon drops? Lemon merengue pie? Lemon-scented cleaner? What's to stop anyone from doing anything with lemons they want—sometimes even squeezing the juice straight into your mouth? Sure, it'll make you pucker up something awful. But Anne believes that life should be experienced to its fullest—even the painful puckering parts.

So maybe it's not too surprising that Anne's own Netflix show, while often sweet, has its sour moments, too.

Avonlea Calling

Anne with an "E" is a Canadian Netflix retelling—or, perhaps, more accurately, reimagining—of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables.

Not that the core characters have changed much, at least on the surface. Anne seems a faithful embodiment of Montgomery's indelible heroine, full of optimism and life and a certain untamable verve. She's an exuberant, Victorian-era drama queen whose life is absolutely wonderful except on the rare occasions when its unbearably tragic—perhaps not much out of step with most other girls in their early teens.

Though she sometimes flashes back to what appears to be a truly horrific boarding school environment, her life is mainly wonderful right now—largely because she's living with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, elderly brother-and-sister farmers who eke out a living on Prince Edward Island, near the picturesque town of Avonlea.

Their mutual relationship didn't get off on the best of footing, given that the Cuthberts were expecting the school to send them a strapping young lad who could help with the farm. Instead, they got a wildly imaginative (and very talkative) girl. But after a few early hiccups, Anne's settled into farm life quite nicely—making friends (and perhaps an enemy or two) with her school chums, reading with unbridled passion and soaking in all the nature she can (sometimes quite literally, such as when she falls into a nearby stream).

No, life in Avonlea isn't always as beautiful or as tranquil as Anne would like, or even as much as she sometimes believes. Farming in this Canadian outpost isn't easy work, and most of the folks there, including the Cuthberts, aren't that far away from abject poverty. Neither Avonlea's residents nor the community's occasional visitors always mean well or do well. And when the story shifts to the lands off the coast of Prince Edward Island (as it sometimes does), life can look difficult indeed.

All that said, however, Anne's cheery outlook brings a blush to even the most pale of worlds, as the Cuthberts and Avonlea are beginning to discover.

Green Gables, Darker Fables

I've not read the original Anne of Green Gables, but some familiar with that version and this one say that this Netflix reimagining manages to be both "darker and sweeter" than the original novel. And those are not its only departures.

While the first season stuck reasonably close to the source material, Anne With an "E" moved away from the book in its second season, plunging its characters into new problems and whisking them off on heretofore untold adventures. The show also attempts to make Anne's turn-of-the-last-century story relevant to 21st-century audiences, arguably in both positive and negative ways.

The second season, for instance, finds one of Anne's friends, a young lad named Gilbert, dashing off to shovel coal on a steamer. There, he works shoulder to shoulder with a black man named Sebastian Lacroix, the first person of color ever depicted in any Anne story or adaptation. Through their relationship, viewers may learn something about racism, both then and now. "You're a white boy," Sebastian tells Gilbert, explaining why he doesn't want him antagonizing the boss. "You've got options. I need this. … Don't lose this work for me."

But we also get some occasional references to physical intimacy, and issues related to same-sex attraction receive a surprising and, for many families, disheartening, amount of attention. That subject receives almost a full episode dedicated to it in Season 2. Detailed below, the seventh episode feels less like an organic part of the overall story and more like a secular sermon celebrating LGBTQ relationships. ("I think I learned some things about love, too," Anne says. "It doesn't look the same for everyone.")

Anne With an "E" doesn't look much like its source material at such times. A story firmly rooted in the late Victorian era is unceremoniously, and puzzlingly, stripped of its 19th Century sensibilities and given a secular 21st-century outlook. For those who want to introduce their children to a timeless character without wading into messy, of-the-moment issues, Anne With an "E" is bound to disappoint.

Still, families that choose to engage the show's unexpected forays into sexual themes will find that Anne With an "E" minds its manners better than some shows dealing with similar agendas. And it's buoyed by Anne's irrepressible attitude.

Yes, Anne With an "E" can indeed be a bit sour sometimes, and that's a shame. But it has its share of sweetness, too. We'll let you decide whether you and your family can make something of it.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

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Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

July 6, 2018: "Memory Has as Many Moods as the Temper"
July 6, 2018: "Signs are Small Measurable Things, But Interpretations are Illimitable"
July 6, 2018: "Youth Is a Season of Hope"



Readability Age Range





Amybeth McNulty as Anne Shirley; Geraldine James as Marilla Cuthbert; R.H. Thomson as Matthew Cuthbert; Dalila Bela as Diana Barry; Lucas Jade Zumann as Gilbert Blythe; Aymeric Jett Montaz as Jerry Baynard; Helen Johns as Mrs. Eliza Barry; Kyla Matthews as Ruby Gillis; Corrine Koslo as Rachel Lynde; Christian Martyn as Billy Andrews; Lia Pappas-Kemps as Jane Andrews; Jacob Ursomarzo as Moody Spurgeon; Dalmar Abuzeid as Sebastian "Bash" Lacroix; Taras Lavren as Nate; Shane Carty as Mr. Dunlop






Record Label




On Video

Year Published



Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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