We’re at the halfway point of Anne with an E‘s third season, and it’s been an absolute roller coaster of emotions. That makes it the perfect time to share my latest interview with series creator and showrunner Moira-Walley Beckett. We chatted just before the Season 3 premiere, and here is what she shared about the themes and storylines that she and her writing team incorporated this year.
Anne turns 16 at the start of the season and this sets several things in motion, from preparing for her Queens College entrance exams and embracing her love of writing, to forming new friendships and being defiant. What can you tease about Anne’s story this year?
It’s such a complicated time, and it’s been an interesting challenge to go back there in my imagination. I’ve been writing the character of Anne for so long in a certain way and with a certain level of maturity. This season, she has so much more agency and maturity, many more powerful points of view that aren’t rash or pure emotion, but that are reasoned. It’s been an entirely different experience, both for Amybeth playing Anne, and for me writing her.
I have to say you’ve really captured the awkwardness of being a teen.
The word for this season is “painful.” It’s just so awkward. It’s funny that we all wish we had more time, and I wish I was younger, but I never, ever wish that I was a teenager again because it’s so hard. Those are bumpy seas to navigate. It’s been really fun putting the [cast] through it, and it’s very meta because they are all 16 to 18. So they’re right in the [middle of the] experiences that I’m asking them to have on camera.
Although Anne has a home with the Cuthberts where she’s loved, she still needs to know about where she came from. What can you tell us about how this search affects Anne Marilla and Matthew.
As you grow into yourself, questions abound. It’s a quintessential element of her character, this longing to belong. And there are so many themes this season about belonging and identity. It’s my thesis for the season. As Anne’s maturing, she needs to know her origin story. Matthew and Marilla, particularly Marilla, consider it a slap in the face. They’re fearful about what she might find both for them and for her. But it’s an essential longing to know who we are, and from whence we came, and particularly for Anne whether or not she was loved. That’s a crucial piece of information for a child who has endured what she endured as an orphan, and she wants to know one way or another.
There’s a new character that you introduce this season that I’m excited to see more of, and the young actor playing her is just fantastic. Can you share a bit about the character and the casting process?
Kiawenti:io Tarbell is a gem. I met with and auditioned all across Canada to find the character of Ka’kwet. She’s wonderful and embodies the character beautifully. It’s a super important storyline this year. In my grand scheme, I’ve been planning to include the Mi’kmaq Nation because they were there on Prince Edward Island, and their story deserves to be told. They were never included in books, but as you know, I haven’t really been doing the books since the beginning.
While Anne and Gilbert is the eventual endgame, we’re not at that point in their story yet. However, Gilbert does meet someone else. Does Winnie’s introduction challenge the eventual Anne/Gilbert relationship?
Winnie absolutely shakes things up. To speak to the Anne and Gilbert of it, they are at different places. Gilbert’s traveled the world. He’s a very mature person and knows himself much more than any of the other kids, and particularly Anne. She’s never turned her gaze to him before. In this tumultuous season, you just have to wait and see what happens. But there’s definitely an impediment or two.
Miss Stacy has always been one of my favourite characters. I love how defiant she is as Rachel Lynde attempts to play matchmaker.
Miss Stacy does not have to be married to be complete. She is an individual and will make her own choices. This season, we learn a lot more about her. Last season, predominantly, she was a forward-thinking teacher who shook things up in town and that was how she was servicing the story. We get to know her so much better this season, and we are reminded that she is a young widow, and that — in my imagination — she was born and raised in the city, educated in the city, and took this posting in Avonlea because she needed some time and peace, and to live a quieter life to gather herself.
She’s spent the last year in reflection and coming to terms with her loss. Rachel Lynde seizes on that and sends Miss Stacy down this path that she’s not really sure she wants to be on. In addition, she’s now closer with Anne and the students, and pushing [them] because this is their last year of high school. Miss Stacy is more and more pivotal in their lives.
Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share about Season 3?
The stakes are high. We are tackling major storylines and contemporary topics. It’s really bold, tumultuous and high drama. Nobody gets off easy, and everybody is tested. It’s a very emotional season.
Photos Courtesy of CBC and Moira Walley-Beckett/Instagram