‘Anne With an ‘E’: Netflix renames Canadian classic

The picture of Anne for CBC's TV show (L) is noticeably different from Netflix's version (R). CBC/Netflix

Canadians and people around the world are familiar with Anne Shirley of beloved Canadian TV show Anne of Green Gables. It’s almost like a Canadian rite of passage to learn about Anne’s adventures, and the majority of us can joyfully explain the raspberry cordial scene or the young girl’s burning crush for school pal Gilbert Blythe.

So it seems almost sacrilegious to mess with the formula, to take something so pure and straightforwardly Canadian and alter it in any way. That’s precisely what Netflix has done with the CBC and Netflix co-production of Anne, which starts up on the U.S. streaming service on May 12. The company isn’t even going with the original title, either; its changed it to Anne With an ‘E’, referring to one of Anne’s idiosyncratic quotes from the novel.

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This is a relatively new development — up until now, Netflix had been advertising the show as Anne. Along the way, the title got changed. On a streaming service offering titles like Riverdale and other racy teen shows, how can sweet, saccharine Anne compare? Netflix, for its part, contends that the name change is strictly to allow a sameness in all of its regions.

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“Outside of Canada, Anne will be called Anne With an E, which is a title we are able to use globally,” said Netflix in a statement. “Fans of Anne Shirley know that if she couldn’t be named Cordelia then she’d settle for her given name – but only if spelled with an ‘e.’ Anne always insists her name be spelled properly and the title speaks to her plucky outspokenness.”

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That’s not the only thing Netflix has changed about Anne: the CBC version’s original poster looks to have been airbrushed and saturated, masking 14-year-old Anne actor Amybeth McNulty’s freckles, imperfect teeth and hair. The background is light, golden and almost dreamlike in comparison to the original poster, which appears far darker, and some might argue, more representative of Prince Edward Island weather.

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Many diehard Anne fans and purists aren’t happy with the Anne makeover, especially considering Anne’s story is one of uniqueness, and how she stands out from the herd. To make her simply another perfect-looking being deflates the very essence of the orphan’s tale.

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CBC even asked some people on the streets of Charlottetown, P.E.I., what they thought of the “adjusted” poster. Most of them were none-too-pleased, calling it too “Hollywood.” One woman said that “it looks like they’re trying to make her look more glamorous or prettier or something.”

Anne of Green Gables is a 1908 novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery which has seen many screen adaptations around the world. Arguably, the most popular TV version is the 1985 version starring Megan Follows as Anne. YTV just recently released its own version, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables.

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Global News has reached out to Kate Macdonald Butler, the granddaughter of Lucy Maud Montgomery and the president of the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery Inc., for comment.

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