In a world full of shows about adult topics such as sex, drugs, and the supernatural, Anne with an E is one show that focuses on the curiosity and innocence of Anne and her growth and maturation through her teenage years. The critically acclaimed movie, Little Women, also has a similar appeal in the sense that it follows the story of a group of young adults finding their place in life and finding love. Not only is it set in a very similar time period, but it captures the youth and purity of friendship between the characters, giving the viewers an insight into life in the late 1800’s while drawing them in by lightly hitting on issues present in today’s society. “The show has such a refreshing view of life,” says senior Sarah Maniscalco. “It is also really interesting to see a show where actual children play children instead of adults... When adults play teenagers, it gives the young viewers a distorted view of how they should look at their age.”
Actress Amybeth McNulty has captured the hearts of thousands, playing the cherished role of Anne (with an E mind you), and the show has attracted a wide variety of viewers because of the diversity of the show.
Not only does it portray 1899 and its social struggles, it also incorporates today's issues into the folds of the show. From gender equality, racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights to the freedom of the press, there are so many things that Anne and her group of friends fight for throughout the three seasons of the show. As a result, the story has connected to so many young people, ones who grew up with the older versions and ones that have just been introduced to the coming of age journey of Anne and the story of Avonlea.
Freshman Ashika Gullapalli says, “It allowed me to see the world through the eyes of someone who doesn’t stick to what is considered normal...people feel empowered by Anne and her character. Despite being in an environment where she struggled, she took life by the reins and people want to see more of her resilient character.”
The Anne with an E fans have raised about $11,000 through GoFundMe to put up billboards and nearly $4,000 for social media advertising. The fundraiser was organized by a fan page, @awae_fanprojects (on Instagram). They communicated with the people who run the New York City Times Square and Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square billboards and have successfully set up billboards in both locations. They first put up a billboard in Yonge-Dundas for four days (January 12th to January 15th), and then later raised more money to put one up in Times Square for two days (January 24th and January 25th). With the remainder of their billboard budget, they were able to revisit their Yonge-Dundas billboard for eight days (January 25th to February first). Both of the latter billboards were made possible by not only the fans but through the Clear Channel Outdoor company and Outfront Media.
Sam Smith also started watching the show after seeing the twitter movement and tweeted, “Just started watching Anne with an E on Netflix. I am obsessed,” on January 9th. Alex Meyers, a popular show reviewer on Youtube, posted a POSITIVE review about Anne with an E, which is quite surprising since he is known for his critical comments about most of the shows he reviews. Anne with an E is one of two shows that has received a positive review on Meyer’s channel. And of course, the work of the fans has been noticed by McNulty, Walley-Beckett, and many of the other actors who play minor characters in the show.
All of this social media attention has brought two of the main stars of the show, McNulty, and Lucas Jade Zumann, who plays Gilbert Blythe, Anne’s sweetheart, up to 1 million followers on Instagram. This shows that the efforts of the fans did truly bring awareness to the show and even the actors. Be that as it may, the attention that this fandom has received has not been all positive. Recently some troll users added Anne with an E fans into a group chat and sent unkind messages implying that they should commit suicide. They were supposedly upset that Anne with an E fans were fighting for the show’s renewal and raising money for billboards while Australia was being consumed by wildfires. In a screenshot posted by @Cheristi1 on Twitter, a message read: “Your show ain't coming back. So [might] as well end yourself with it”. McNulty tweeted, “hey so I don’t know what’s going on with some bullying in a group chat or any kind of detail, but obviously no one deserves that. When people are bored they choose to spend their time on meaningless things like bullying, and it’s frustrating and sad. I’m sorry if anyone was hurt, but it’s clear to me that you have each others support and you certainly have mine. There is so much more to do in this life then cause pain to others. Love you all x,” on January 13th.
They are still holding up hope that Disney may pick up the beloved show and continue it on either Disney+ or Hulu. There are however some concerns that come with Disney picking the show up. Many fans are worried that if the show is put on Disney+, it may lose its realness. They fear that since Disney+ is targeted towards a younger audience the more controversial yet relevant topics addressed in Anne with an E would be removed and the show would become too ‘kid-friendly’ and lose its impactful message. On the other hand, if it were put on Hulu, it would still retain its realness and coverage of such topics. Unfortunately, Hulu only offers its services in the United States and in Japan, leaving the fans in other countries such as Canada, where the show originated, without the option to watch possible new seasons.
The determined fans have gotten their motivation to fight for the show from the show itself. There are countless times throughout the show where Anne stands up for her beliefs against the entire town of Avonlea and the fan account @awae_fanprojects even said, “[Anne with an E] has given an impact by showing our society that we must fight for what we believe in. Even if others don’t agree, we have to fight for what’s right.” The innocence and empowerment put forth by the show has truly brought together a community of kindred spirits.