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.”

Anne Shirley-Cuthbert has been one of the most beloved characters in children’s novels since her first introduction in 1908 in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book Anne of Green Gables. Her popularity has been prominent since the mid twentieth century and her story, a classic, has many adaptations. The most recent one, Anne with an E, has been a public favorite over the last three years of its running. The show, adapted by Emmy Award winning writer and producer Moira Walley-Beckett, has been airing on CBC Television in Canada while it has been available to the rest of the world through Netflix.

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.”

However, just as quickly as the show became a hit, it was cancelled due to a lack of space in the budget. But, the fans did not agree so easily. The day that the cancellation was announced they came together and created a hashtag, #renewannewithane, and it gained over 1 million tweets on the first day and was trending #1 on Twitter the day after the announcement. That hashtag, along with many others is still trending and fans are posting daily to bring awareness to the show and increase the number of viewers so Netflix could possibly change their mind. Netflix has a ‘28-day policy’ meaning that they will observe the viewing patterns of shows for the first 28 days that the show is on the platform for. The fans are hoping to raise awareness of the show to boost the number of viewers and the popularity of the show for the first 28 days to prove to Netflix that the show is popular enough to continue.

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.

Pictured is director and producer, Moira Walley-Beckett visiting the first billboard which went up in Toronto. Photo courtesy of @moirawalleybeckett on Instagram.
Cast members, Glenna Walters, Amybeth Mcnulty, and Stephen Tracy (left to right) visited one billboard in Toronto. This billboard design, by artist @luztapiaart on Instagram, was up in both the New York Times, and in the Yonge-Dundas Square. Photo courtesy of @amybethmcnulty on Instagram.
Another billboard design which was put up in Toronto only was created by artist @lukumlexy on Instagram. Photo courtesy of artist @lukymlexy.
Above is the last billboard designs that was up in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square (January 30 - February 1) Photo courtesy of Instagram account of artist, @welpsause.

Not only did the fans catch the eyes of these two companies but also some celebrities. Ryan Reynolds tweeted, “You guys might want to renew Anne with an E. Unless ‘final season’ is just a fun way of saying ‘halfway point’,” on January 3rd, the day of the show’s release on Netflix in support.

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.

The first 28 days that Netflix pulls data from to analyze the popularity of shows ends on January 31st 2020, and fans have been racing to continue their efforts even past the deadline and have made use of every last second of the time that they were granted.

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.

Created By
Snigda Narisetty