A Totally Biased Review of Netflix’s Anne with an E

I say biased because I grew up reading the books and absolutely loved them. I may have mentioned that before in previous posts, but in case you missed it, I LOVE Anne of Green Gables. I read the first book over 15 times, and I know this, because by the time I got to read number 15, I gave up keeping track of how many times I’d read it. So I think at this point in my life it’s safe to say I’ve read the book at least 50 times, and still plan on reading it again soon, especially after watching the new show.

I managed to watch all seven episodes in three days, which doesn’t sound impressive, but with a full-time job and grad school work, seven episodes in three days is an accomplishment for me. I just liked the show that much and felt myself taken back to childhood, hearing the old familiar dialogue and looking forward to the iconic scenes. The show did not disappoint. Even though there were a few deviations from the book, it still remained true to most of the story and the spirit of the characters.

Amybeth McNulty is an exquisite Anne, I think. Her voice and eyes are so expressive when delivering her lines, which is exactly what Anne Shirley is all about. Also, in the scenes that bring to light the true horrors Anne has seen in her life (something I appreciated that’s different from the book), her performance is heart wrenching and I couldn’t help but tear up so many times for poor, dear Anne.

Geraldine James is exactly what I always pictured Marilla to be when I read the books, and she does such a magnificent job of changing from being the completely stern authority figure to newly-made mother with a soft spot for her girl. She handles her role with grace and wit, making Marilla a lovely character to be fond of. I also love the portrayal of her relationship with Rachel Lynde, and how the two women have their differences, but truly it is like they are sisters with how well they know each other and feel comfortable with their banter, especially in a society that tries to stifle women’s personalities.

The last thing I’m going to say about the show (last because otherwise I’ll just keep going on) is I adore how unashamedly feminist it is. I write this as I wear my Mockingbird “Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda” t-shirt. That’s the thing about media that takes on a feminist message. It often feels like if it overtly states it, it’s trying too hard or pushing an agenda, but watching Anne With an E, for the first time I questioned myself, “Why shouldn’t it be overt and pushed? Why should touting feminist ideals be subtle or hidden or gently suggested?” I just really appreciate how a childhood favorite grew up to resonate still with me as an adult.

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Reluctant Romantic

I’ve read Pride & Prejudice and was smitten. All Cassandra Clare books? Fell like a sucker. I watch The Vampire Diaries and am a hardcore Delena shipper. I openly admit that watching A Walk to Remember still makes me ugly sob. So what is it about the romance genre label that keeps me at bay?

I’m obviously a sucker for a good love story. Hello, grew up on Disney movies, of course I love love. I live for the warm and fluffy feelings of seeing couples come together and live happily ever after. I gushed over Olicity on Arrow (and was heartbroken when they didn’t last) and I still firmly believe Destiel is end game on Supernatural.

It’s not all about the romance in romance novels though. As is bound to come with hand holding and kisses is the sex. I’m certainly no prude. I watched True Blood (with my mother, no less), so I’m clearly comfortable with awkward, sexual situations in my fiction.

Perhaps there’s still a part of my mind that resists due to prior stigmas of romance novels being trashy literature. But I know now the negative perception of the genre and how it correlates with viewing all things feminine with disdain, and knowing is half the battle.

Still, I can’t let myself pick up books with titles like Rough and Ready or Take A Ride. I read Twin of Fire and Twin of Ice by Jude Deveraux and thought those were okay. I barely remember Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Fantasy Lover, only that the sex scenes made me roll my eyes and snort. I can’t possibly take these books seriously.

But why do I need to take them seriously? For crying out loud, one of my favorite shows features an archer that let’s loose arrows that turn into parachutes! Maybe when I’m reading the situations these romance novels unravel, they seem too unlikely to ever happen for real. Then again, I was forced to accept analyzing key strokes as a legitimate method of finding out corporate espionage, so perhaps realistic standards are not the problem.

I’m thinking what it all comes down to in the end, is I simply haven’t found the right romance read for me yet. I probably spent so many years adamantly resisting the notion of liking girly things, that even now, with all the wisdom and education I’ve gained, I’m still a little obstinate in my views of “trashy” books. I hope that changes someday, but for now, I’ll continue to consume my passion for passion through TV, movies, classics and YA reads.

Canary Trash

The return of Arrow last week stirred in me feelings from the previous season and opened old wounds (#foreversalt), so I thought I’d share an old post I wrote for my personal blog here.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD IF YOU HAVEN’T CAUGHT UP ON THE SHOW

Also, profanity up ahead. Proceed with caution.

I stayed up late last night thinking about how I haven’t watched the Arrow season 4 finale yet (yeah I know way behind), but truthfully, I’ve been avoiding it because I’m still salty about the death of Black Canary.  Oh shit sorry, SPOILERS GUYS!

Obviously writing a show is hard.  There’s pressure to write an entirely self-contained 45-minute story from week to week and film it and get it out.  But, on the other hand, it’s not like they start the writing process the week before the season starts and go balls out with production.  I know there’s a story boarding room and details get hammered out for a cohesive plot line.  So, with that in mind, why did they feel the need to kill Black Canary?

I get that the situations these characters are in are high stakes, and that means, people can die.  Fine.  It happens.  I suppose I can’t think of an alternative high stakes consequence for Team Arrow to suffer other than the loss of a team member.  But does losing a team member necessarily mean they have to die? (See Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD as an example of an emotional exit without death).

And that’s exactly the thing, isn’t it?  Of course, if everyone always ends up coming out alright in the end, there’s no really impactful consequence and things can get boring.  However, it is my opinion that lately TV creators and many TV critics are under the impression that the only way to have an impact is to kill a character.  I’ve seen it in several reviews when people say things like, “If no one ever dies, what are the stakes?  What’s the point?  Why should these characters matter if they always make it out alive?”

So, in response, perhaps the writers of TV shows feel they need to shock the audience, and what bigger shock than killing off a beloved character (like Abby in Sleepy Hollow?!  Excuse me?!).  They’re not wrong, it is shocking, but is shocking the only way to get a visceral, emotional reaction from the audience?  If that’s what you think, then clearly you don’t understand the spectrum of human emotion (might I recommend watching Inside Out to get a pretty damn good representation about the complexity of emotions and how they intermingle?)

The way I see it, if death is the only valuable consequence, that kind of invalidates the point of living and fighting.  Loss, grief and pain are feelings that can be achieved through other high stakes consequences (again, see Agents of SHIELD regarding season 1 finale with the revelation of Grant Ward’s betrayal to the team).

Okay, fine, so I can’t come up with an alternative solution to killing off Black Canary.  We’ll accept it and embrace that she is dead and gone.  RIP Laurel Lance.

But here’s where I got really peeved, with the way she died.  She goes down in a fight against Damien Darhk, fighting as the Black Canary, doing what she believes is right, opposing a force of evil who is threatening her beloved city, and the last words the audience hears her say are, “Oliver, I may not have been the love of your life, but you were the love of mine.”

I’m having Teen Wolf flashbacks of the death of Allison, but let’s not go there right now.  So, I know she says something else to Oliver before she dies, but we don’t know what it is.  What we do know, is after all the shit she’s gone through and growth and progress she’s made to become a hero in her own right, she dies reminding the audience, “Remember I’m Ollie’s ex-girlfriend!” even though their romantic relationship felt complete and resolved pretty much by the end of season 2 or 3 (I can’t remember which).  Regardless, this whole season and probably for most of season 3 if I recall correctly, Laurel and Oliver are at a point in their relationship where they have a solid friendship that has moved past their romantic history.

So where in fuck’s name did that line come from?!  Also, side note, it was a little hurtful I think to have her say Oliver was the love of her life because, I don’t know, she seemed to have a pretty good thing going with Tommy.  Yeah, remember him?  The guy that literally died crushed under a building’s debris so he could save Laurel from getting killed?  I’m sure that line wasn’t meant to throw away Tommy and Laurel’s relationship, but it sure felt like he’d been momentarily forgotten.

Anyway, back to my salt.  Look, I’m not saying Laurel’s love for Oliver (or Tommy!) is invalid.  Of course it matters and it’s a huge part of her identity and history and in certain ways that love has propelled her to where she ended up.  But let’s be honest, if Laurel Lance had a true epic love of her life, it wasn’t any man; it was justice.  She was dedicated to fighting for those without power and standing up for the city and the people that she loved, and that was shown from the beginning when the show started with her as a low paid lawyer working in a dinky law firm that serves the underprivileged.

And sure, she may have lost her way at one point, giving in to anger and fear that led her down the path of addiction and then to become the Black Canary for the maybe not so right reasons, but at the end of the day, she found her way back to righteousness and continued fighting as the Black Canary so that she could protect and serve.  Laurel was married to justice and doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing from the beginning, even if she weaved in and out of that lane a bit at times.

So fine, she died because I guess “that’s where the story took them [the writers],” but did she have to die as Ollie’s ex-girlfriend after having gone down in battle as superheroine Black Canary?  After the roller coaster story line she’d been given to live and fight and survive through, she deserved more than that in her death.