TV

Renew ‘Anne With An E’: The Fandom Taking On Netflix To Save A Beloved Show

When Netlix cancelled 'Anne With An E', a furiously passionate fanbase responded. And they are still fighting.

Anne With An E

“NETFLIX SAVE ANNE is trending and the coronavirus isn’t. That’s the power of Anne Nation” tweeted Mikhael Veroort on March 10.

Like many, Veroort, a Belgian who lives in Denmark, has recently come back to social media to support the renewal of the hit Netflix and CBC show.

They’re popping up more these days than puffed sleeves or plum puffs in Avonlea.

“I’ve been on this bird app for three months now and would very much like to get off it,” admits Mira, an American lawyer in her late 20s, who lives in New York.

Like many others, she only signed up to Twitter to save the hit show Anne With an E, after Netflix and the The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) announced that the season three would be the last instalment of the series.

The news has plunged fans into what the heroine of the Lucy Maud Montgomery book that the show is partly based on calls the “depths of despair,”. Many in the “Anne nation”, as fans have dubbed the fandom, are also outraged.

“I’ve never fought for a show before, ever, and I grew up on Harry Potter. That’s probably my closest experience to being in a fandom, but nothing like this,” says Mira.

“If any other of the shows I watch was cancelled, I’d be upset. But I wouldn’t be on stan Twitter three months later, writing handwritten letters to CBC and Netflix, going to Times Square at midnight to see our billboards etc.”

The internet may have changed the face of fandom, but it seems quite likely that AWAE has changed fandom even more. To say that the show’s throng of fans are loyal, passionate and industrious is an understatement.

#RenewAnneWithAnE

In just 12 hours after a Netflix poster announced the final season, the hashtag #renewannewithane was Tweeted one million times and reached the top spot on the world trending list.

A GoFundMe campaign raised $10,000 USD between mid-December and February for five billboards in Toronto and New York city. A petition calling on Netflix to renew the program has collected over 226,000 signatures.

According to Dr. Anne Kustritz, Assistant Professor of Media and Culture Studies at Utrecht University, the entire concept of fandom has changed since the advent of the internet.

“Demographics have changed, the transnational scope of fandom has changed, and media corporations’ strategies for audience interaction have changed,” she says.

“However, many of the activities that fans now engage in existed before the internet — the internet enabled them to become faster, easier, cheaper, and more transnational, but also less secret and protected from scrutiny.”

Like A Third Job

According to Lejla P, 22, from Toronto, running the account Potato Light Bulbs Forever — a nod to a motto from the show — has been “like my third job”.

The art history student who works in retail and at a library started it on December 6 with others in a bid to plan more “trending parties” and other activities to help the show gain attention. A current pinned Tweet lays out the latest activities to take part in, and award season voting and tracking.

“I know Shadowhunters, The OA, Timeless, One Day at a Time, all had their own things, but I’ve never seen this much movement in two and-a-half months,” says Lejla.

“I have 12 tabs open which are all AWAE related — email template, petition, Trello, awards voting, so many things.

“Today is Wednesday — I’ll have to get my planner out for next week!”

Digital Fans

It’s impossible to say how many fans of the show there are online, but they cut across the entire globe.

“At the beginning we would all stay up 24 hours Tweeting,” says Wiktoria, 22, from Mazury, Poland.

With 13.4k followers, the main Brazilian fan account @AWAEINFOBR  is, surprisingly, the second-most followed Anne information account globally, translating information and articles from English to Portuguese and posting show updates. Guilherme Henrique Vieira de Oliveira, 22, a software engineer in Santa Catarina, Brazil’s south, helps run it.

There’s many themes present in the program which resonate with Brazilians, says de Oliveira, who knows other male fans.

“(Those) involving women empowerment and the importance of female friendship, consent, knowing your own body and not being ashamed even if you don’t fit the society standards are so important in a country (which) has such high femicide rates,” he says.

Cass Waugh, 20, from Point Lonsdale, Victoria, discovered the show before buying the books online and is now part of a group account called AWAE Australia.

“A young Indigenous girl’s storyline really reminds me of the Stolen Generation (in Australia),” says Waugh, describing the reasons she likes it.

When she was younger, Waugh went to rallies and public events with her mother to get people to sign petitions and inform them about The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA).

Today, her mother is happy about her being involved in a campaign to save a TV show, arguing that it still represents people power.

“I think this movement will inspire a lot of people to take more part in social change campaigns. That’s also what Anne does in the show,” says Waugh.

Fighting In The Dark

With the end of March looming, and no announcement by CBC or Netflix on a fourth series, Lejla admits “we’re kind of fighting in the dark”.

But she points out the numbers who signed the petition was just as high as those who supported the return of Lucifer. Their fans have been credited with saving the show .

So are AWAE fans in it for the long haul?

Allison, 33, a UX designer from Los Angeles is — but won’t be watching repeats. She’s just cancelled her Netflix subscription in protest of the show’s cancellation.

“I’m real disappointed in their business and the way they have ignored this fandom completely,” she says.

Although she’d have more spare time if she wasn’t trying to bring back her favourite TV show, Lejla admits that it’s “addictive”. But most of all it’s about what Anne would want her to do.

“She says in season three she was ‘a relentless thorn in the side of those who refuse to amend the status quo’”, says Lejla.

“I think that inspired everybody else to fight so hard. Anne wouldn’t give up so easily.”


Amy Fallon is a journalist who has worked all around the world. She is on twitter @amyfallon.