Genre: Kids' Animation
TV Rating: TV-Y
Other Choices: Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Babar, Max and Ruby
Available On: DVD
Common Sense Says: Cartoon Anne of Green Gables is sweet, with worthy lessons.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series is an adaptation of the 1908 book by Lucy Maud Montgomery and each episode has an explicit moral lesson, such as being loyal to a friend, or not being wasteful. Some characters mock each other: A classmate calls Anne "carrots" for her red hair; Anne's friend, Diana, is called "dirty girl" after she gets lice, but characters learn from their mistakes. Anne's female guardian, Marilla, can sometimes be blunt and gruff, which may intimidate very young or sensitive children, but she's got Anne's best interests in mind.
- Families can talk about why Marilla and Matthew intended to adopt a boy to help on the farm rather than a girl. What can boys do that girls can't? Considering that the show is set around 1908, when the book Anne of Green Gables was written, how have our ideas about what boys and girls can do changed?
- Anne often makes mistakes but in the course of each episode, she usually learns a better, kinder way to do things. Does this happen in real life? Can you name a time in your life when you've learned a lesson from behaving badly or making a mistake?
- Marilla is the character who seems most immune to Anne's charms. Yet she seems to appreciate Anne, and even to love her. How does the show reveal Marilla's inner kindness to viewers? Through dialogue? Actions?
What's the story?
A takeoff on beloved classic children's novel, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE ANIMATED SERIES follows the adventures of 10-year-old orphan Anne Shirley, who was mistakenly sent to a brother-sister pair of farmers who had ordered a boy from the orphanage to help on the farm in the early 20th century. Bowled over by Anne's irrepressible nature and hardworking ways, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert soon grow to care for and appreciate Anne, though Marilla often scolds Anne for her talkativeness and flights of fancy. However, Anne is happy with the Cuthberts and on quiet Avonlea farm, and soon makes friends at school: Gentle Diana, Anne's closest neighbor; Felicity, who can sometimes be snooty; even rascally Gilbert, who initially earns Anne's scorn for making fun of her red hair. With the ready and kind-hearted support of her friends and her adopted guardians Anne faces daily problems that will be familiar to modern children, even those who don't wear petticoats on a 1908 farm.
Is it any good?
It's nearly impossible to be simultaneously ultra-gentle yet not cloying, but Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series somehow manages it. The show's secret weapons are two: Terrific source material and well-realized characters. The source material, of course, is well-known; Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables has been beloved since it was first published in 1908, and taught in classrooms for generations. Many of the adventures in The Animated Series are drawn directly from Montgomery's book, such as the green-hair disaster that occurs when Anne tries to dye her hair a less noticeable color than her trademark red.The source material is also partially responsible for the realistic characters. Montgomery gave Anne spunk and spark, with a terrific imagination: She visualizes trees talking to her, or a toad helping her with her spelling. Anne is quick to anger, and often does the wrong thing, but her mistakes are just a prelude to her learning lessons about parent-approved values like kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration. Guardian Matthew is doting and loving, Marilla is prim and a bit reticent, but clearly fond of Anne. This is a series that offers typical PBS-style character lessons, but it has so much heart and sincerity that parents and kids alike will be enchanted.
The Good Stuff
Messages: The show offers explicit moral lessons such as "a true friend is loyal" that are driven home through the narrative of each episode.
Educational Value: Originally airing on PBS with an explicitly educational intent, the show is intended to teach young children how to handle daily challenges such as babysitting a younger child or pleasing a strict teacher.
Role Models: Adult characters are present and realistic: some are grumpy or flighty, but all are kindly at heart, and ready to guide Anne and her friends anytime they're needed. Anne lives on a farm and thus her adoptive "parents" are always around somewhere working on the farm. Anne and her friends often make mistakes, but learn the right way to do things by the end of each show.
What to watch out for
Violence & scariness: Characters mocking or being unkind to each other are crucial to the plot of many episodes, but things never get particularly ugly and everyone has learned a lesson by the end of the show.
Sexy stuff: Not an issue
Language: Characters may mildly chide each other ("You're being very foolish!") and may occasionally veer into outright mockery, such as in one episode where a character who gets lice is called "dirty girl" by her classmates.
Consumerism: Children who watch this series may want to seek out other Anne of Green Gables books, movies and television shows, of which there are many.
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue