Anne Nation: The passionate fans behind #SaveAnneWithAnE

Anne Nation is leading the charge to save Anne With an E regardless of naysayers and the cancellation of a series they love too much to let slip away.

When I finished season 3 of Anne With an E, it was my intention to write a love letter to the show that expressed my desire to see it be saved despite its cancellation ahead of its season 3 premiere in the U.S. Then I found out the reason the series was cancelled: CBC and Netflix had dissolved their partnership.

According to CBC’s president and CEO Catherine Tait, deals like the one the company had struck with Netflix hurt the long-term viability of Canada’s domestic industry. Since streamers like Netflix are neither required to collect sales tax in Canada nor required to give 5 percent of their gross revenue to the Canada Media Fund — a requirement domestic producers must adhere to — their investment in Canada is optional and at their discretion.

Discovering that news along with showrunner Moira Walley-Beckett‘s and co-executive producer Miranda de Pencier‘s Instagram posts saying farewell to the series and informing fans they had tried to save it with no avail, took the wind out of my #SaveAnneWithAnE sails. So, I wrote my love letter detailing all that has set the series apart from previous adaptations of Anne Shirley-Cuthbert’s story. But I, like Moira and Miranda, urged fans to let the show go citing the impasse I believe neither CBC nor Netflix will budge on, the lack of an alternative home for the series, and no green light for a film.

Anne Nation did not take kindly to my position. Within hours of the corresponding tweet for my piece going live, the replies were flooded with responses.

Some had a defiant spirit like @LadyofShalott79 and @lovesforAnne_:

Others detailed why they weren’t giving up on Anne with an E like @ellalovesanne:

And, of course, there were rude ones and conspiracies on whether or not I was a Netflix shill hired to write the article — this is the web after all — but the commonality between the responses was a rejection of my position and a love for the series. Understandably, my opinion — in spite of my mutual love for the show — was seen as negative. For people trying to save something, when someone says they can’t save whatever that is, the only way to take that response is negative.

Anne Nation and I are on opposite sides of a divide, those who believe the show can be saved and those who cannot see a path forward to make that happen. Knowing my own position, I decided to reach out to members of Anne Nation and learn more about the campaign to better understand their perspective.

I started with @awaefanprojects, a group of 12 women who have been organizing efforts to save Anne With an E utilizing the following divergent methods:

  • Tweeting #RenewAnneWithAnE to various outlets from networks to magazines and newspapers. Their goal being to bring awareness to why the show should be renewed, and if not renewed then picked up by another company, and to bring attention to the movement’s efforts.
  • Encouraging fans to participate in trending and streaming parties hosted by @Bulbsforever in an effort to bring the hashtag onto trending boards on social media platforms and showcasing the audience Anne With an E reaches.
  • Sending emails to TV companies about the series and its importance to fans.
  • Creating fan accounts dedicated to Anne With an E and the campaign to save it. While some fan accounts like @annewithanebr (an account maintained by Brazilian fans of the show) and @talkingboutanne (an account maintained by Korean fans of the show) have been around for a couple of years, others like  @AvonleaGazette (named after the student newspaper Anne and her friends produce) came to Twitter in November after the show was cancelled with the expressed desire to save it.
  • Creating a petition that has over 143,000+ signatures and is still growing.
  • Starting #lettersforanne, a letter writing campaign calling on fans to write CBC and Norwood Entertainment to renew the show. The letters are being delivered in batches and fans have also taken to sharing their letters online and emailing them to the companies as well.
  • Social media ads for the show that run on Facebook.
  • Promotional cards with QR codes that direct users to Anne With an E‘s season 3 trailer.
  • A billboard campaign, the first of which Walley-Beckett posted to her Instagram when she visited the billboard in Toronto. The second billboard ran in Times Square on January 24 and 25:

Had I not reached out to @awaefanprojects and spoken with one of the group’s members, Natasha, I’d have only a cursory understanding of all that’s gone into trying to save Anne With an E. What’s happening across the globe with Anne Nation is more than a hashtag. Calling them a movement is more apt. And there are certainly more of them than the bots CBC Kids News linked them to after the show had been canceled.

And in listening to fans, I, too, am puzzled by CBC’s other reason for canceling Anne With an E. According to CBC English Television’s general manager of programming, Sally Catto, the series “didn’t register enough of an audience boost in the 25-54 age range.”

I’m not sure if Catto is referring to Canadian viewership or the whole of the show’s viewers, which would include its international audience, but it seems strange that a show about a teenager which is not geared toward an older audience would be expected to appeal to older viewers.

Though that’s not to say Anne With an E doesn’t have audience members in the 25-54 age range. I fall within that range, and so does @kirieliaison (Kirsten), a PhD student in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute who has been raising her voice to save the show.

Kirsten is a Lucifan who knows from experience how fan campaigns can get a show renewed. She, like many of Anne With an E fans, took to the web after viewing the show’s season 3 and learned of its cancellation. And its through Twitter that she found what she calls a “tidal wave” of people who felt a visceral loss and anguish over the premature ending of a show that had more story to tell, from Ka’Kwet trapped in the residential school to the beginnings of love explored between Anne and Gilbert.

In Kirsten’s own words: “I was struck with how intimately people all over the world were impacted by the messages in AWAE. The script, editing, and acting all provide vital teachings regarding social inclusion and personal integrity. These qualities are sadly missing in our world. The global outcry to #SaveAnneWithanE became a instant community of people sharing their hearts and speaking of their devotion to justice. I was swept up into this juggernaut as more and more folks watched the series and came to the same conclusion.”

She also created a graphic to share her thoughts on the cancellation and why the show should be picked up by Disney Plus:

Disney Plus and Apple TV+ are just two of the streamers Anne Nation has been requesting to pick the series up in absence of a renegotiation between CBC and Netflix, which is not likely to happen. These streamers, like Hulu and Amazon Studios — which Anne Nation have also reached out to — are also not required to invest in Canada, but perhaps a deal can be met between Norwood Entertainment, CBC, and an interested streamer that was reportedly not possible with Netflix.

Without explicit interest in the series beyond streamers encouraging Anne Nation to request the show, which even Netflix has done, there’s not much for fans to do but keep building their movement and raising awareness about the series and its inclusiveness. But I do hold with a sentiment Kirsten has regarding the situation:

“In adherence to Moira Walley-Becket’s characterization of a fiery Anne who is able to see to the core of the issue and willing to make personal sacrifices to defend the defenseless, I recognize that the local economies in Canada are important to defend, and the economies of the people of Prince Edward Island and any other region where the series was filmed, as well as the personal artistic rights of the writers, cast, and crew. More than anything, the rights of the Mi’kmaq people to tell their story in a way that benefits them is of highest importance. I hope the international outcry to #renewannewithane can be of some assistance in these matters. I do believe there is still hope.

However, much pressure is being put on global media outlets such as Disney Plus who have the platform reach to take up the show. It is my wish that this can occur in a way that doesn’t compromise the integrity and well-being of the artists, local economies, and Indigenous peoples involved.

This is the genius of this show and its fandom: There is a strong sense of inspiration we receive from Moira Walley-Beckett’s/Amybeth McNulty’s Anne of Green Gables. We realize that to fully do this beautiful series justice is to integrate the lessons of inclusion, empowerment, personal integrity into our lives and actions so we may stand stronger together in our continual demand for justice and equality.”

I may not see a way forward, but I am only one voice. And though I can recognize the dream of a renewal, and see its merits, I can’t say that lending my voice to the cry from fans to save the show will benefit the movement if I cannot do it with the passion and determination Anne Nation has. But I can help to amplify their mission because I do believe it is a noble one.

They say dreamers change the world; it may just be dreamers that save this show. So if you believe Anne With an E can be saved, then raise your voice with Anne Nation. And if you’re like me, and you’re not sure how that’s possible, then pass the megaphone. Anne Nation will take care of the rest.

Next: Parting is such sweet sorrow: Saying goodbye to Anne With an E
Do you believe Anne with an E can be saved? Serve up your thoughts in the comments below!