Last night, I hung out with Anne Shirley. Oh, my stars, yes. Amybeth McNulty (Anne Shirley) and Moira Walley-Beckett (Writer + Showrunner, Anne with an “E”) arrived at The Strand, a bucket-list NYC bookstore, to chat about their upcoming release, Anne with an E, dropping tomorrow on Netflix. Over Raspberry Cordial and currant scones the two spoke about what it was like to breathe life through the pages of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables book series.
Anne was with me through my divorce. She was my connection to the girl I once was, the girl who wouldn’t settle for second place, who had pride–even if it sometimes got in her own way. She was conflicted and tortured and my most bosom friend.
Years later, for Halloween, my eight-year-old daughter wanted to dress up as Anne Shirley, complete with puff sleeves and an amethyst broach. I’d been reading her the first book in the series when she’d decided. She’d carry a chalkboard slate and a bundle of books. “But no one is going to know who you are,” I said. “And where will you put all the candy?”
It’s one of those parenting moments I wish I could re-write. Because, my goodness, who cares?! My daughter was so enchanted with a literary character–a scrappy girl with moxie– that she wanted to dress in her likeness, and I honestly tried to steer her from it. This is not the picture of parenting I want to present to the world, but there it is. Instead, we turned her puff sleeved outfit into Granny’s nightgown. She was the wolf, trying to disguise himself as Granny, all the better to eat Little Red Riding hood. At least we stuck to a literary character.
I believe we all want to see ourselves on TV. Not our actual selves, maybe, but someone who represents, someone familiar who looks like us, or shares our same secrets. We want relatable heroes and flawed anti-heroes.
I have two comfort movies* that extend rope to me when I’m hanging from a cliff. The first of which is Anne of Green Gables. My mother, sister, and I used to watch the 1985 TV miniseries adaptation of Anne of Green Gables when it aired on PBS, the one starring Megan Follows. Maybe we related because the three of us were redheads, as is the heroine of Anne of Green Gables: “Anne with an ‘E’ Shirley.” But I believe it was something else.
I connect with Anne’s sense of longing, with her restlessness, with her conflicted desire to be “good” and to also be true to who she is.
This is a theme I’ve circled lately as a parent. How much do we sacrifice who we are in favor of being “good,” or likable? It seems like an easy answer: “Forget being liked. Own who you are, and you’ll be liked for that.” But is it true, is it really? This is one of many topical questions explored throughout Anne with an E.
Calling all TV and entertainment lovers! If you’ve been thinking about joining Netflix for a while but haven’t pulled the trigger yet, I’ve got the perfect solution for you. You can win a FREE 3-month subscription to Netflix and a tote-full of Green Gables inspired goodies with the upcoming premiere of “Anne with an E” this May. All you have to do to win is follow the options below (each gives you more of a chance to win). The lucky winner can be you!
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* The second comfort feature that always makes me feel better: The Parent Trap.
WHAT WE’RE NETFLIXING IN MAY
Anne with an E
You do NOT need to have children to enjoy this enchanting series based on the famed books. + ADD TO YOUR WATCH LIST
Disney's The BFG
This is one I haven’t seen yet! It’s on my watchlist for MAY to watch with the littles. Notorious BFG >>
As a Netflix #StreamTeam member...
In exchange for sharing 1 post each month about Netflix programming, I receive a subscription to Netflix. Though I often share more often because I overshare like it’s a sport. Opinions are all mine.