Now that I've watched the first three episodes of the new CBC/Netflix Anne of Green of Gables and had some time to digest it, I'm having thoughts. I have a somewhat complicated relationship with Anne. Growing up in Prince Edward Island, she was kind of like the annoying cousin that you couldn't get away from, particularly if you had long auburn hair reddish enough for tourists to comment on and occasionally ask for your picture. We've got a love/hate thing going on, Anne and I. Here are some of the things that have been rolling around in my mind.
1. I'm kinda jealous that people will be able to binge it all on Netflix without having to wait for the next episode. That said, I think that some of the Sullivan 1985 Anne fans who are waiting to watch it on Netflix are going to lose their damned minds when they see this adaptation. Makes me want to make popcorn on May 12 and watch the Twitter reactions stream by. I am enjoying this darker take on the material, even when it goes off book in ways I'd not expect (and don't always love), but the people who love a soft, romantic Anne likely will not adore this version unless they go into it with an open mind.
2. Some people are freaking out and stomping their feet about the fact there's a new version and it's making me roll my eyes. It's been 30 years since the Sullivan mini-series. You can enjoy more than one take on a thing. Just look at Sherlock, which gets reimagined almost constantly. The Sullivan version is not the original. The original is the book. The first film version was in 1919. The first television adaptation was in 1956. The 1985 Anne can be *your* Anne but she's not the original.
3. The above said, I was a wee bit concerned about the casting. After all, I'd been watching the Sullivan edition for 30+ years. Would I actually like new people in these roles? The answer is yes. Amybeth McNulty is a delightful Anne. I adore R.H. Thomson as Matthew (but I kind of adore R.H. Thomson so there's that). And Geraldine James has won me over with her Marilla, something I was doubtful of because I adored Colleen Dewhurst. The only character I really struggled with was Rachel Lynde because Patricia Hamilton's Lynde is so sticky in my mind. Oh, and I'm not so sure about Mr. Barry but that has less to do with casting and more to do with characterization. He's a bit... uppity.
4. I am wondering if this new Anne will have an impact on tourism marketing in Prince Edward Island. Even though it was filmed in Ontario - as was the Sullivan production - more Anne means more tourism dollars for PEI. PEI needs the tourism dollars (seasonal economy!) and I don't begrudge the heavy focus on Anne overly much, but it tends to veer in the precious and twee direction. This new production is not that. How will that actually be reflected on the Island?
5. Anne of Green Gables is not my favourite L.M. Montgomery book or character. That honour goes to The Blue Castle and Valancy Stirling. If you've never read it, I encourage you to do so. I would love to see a great adaptation of The Blue Castle and I think the people behind this Anne could do a great job with it.