Kindred spirits make online appeal to #SaveAnneWithAnE

Kindred spirits are rallying online in hopes of saving Anne With An E, their beloved series cancelled by CBC and Netflix earlier this week.

Lack of audience growth in 25-54 age range blamed for cancellation

Devoted fans have launched a social media campaign in a bid to save the coming-of-age drama Anne With An E, cancelled earlier this week. (Chris Reardon/CBC)

Kindred spirits are rallying online in hopes of saving Anne With An E, their beloved series cancelled by CBC and Netflix earlier this week.

Thousands of supporters of the series — based on Lucy Maud Montgomery's Prince Edward Island-set classic Anne of Green Gables — have flooded social media since news spread of the show's demise on Monday

The third season finale aired in Canada on CBC-TV on Sunday. Season three is slated to debut for international viewers via Netflix on Jan. 3.

Following the immediate online outcry after Monday's cancellation announcement, fans in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and beyond organized a midday "trending party" Tuesday via hashtags like #SaveAnneWithAnE and #RenewAnneWithAnE. 

The cancellation also spawned a Change.org petition calling for the show to be renewed for a fourth season, with more than 29,000 supporters as of Wednesday morning. 

Since its debut in spring 2017, Anne with an E has reimagined the coming-of-age story of feisty orphan Anne Shirley through a more modern lens. 

Created by Moira Walley-Beckett and Miranda de Pencier, the show's broad range of storylines and diverse cast built a strong community of devotees. It also nabbed back-to-back best drama series trophies at the Canadian Screen Awards as well as acting honours for star Amybeth McNulty and veteran performers Geraldine James and R.H. Thompson. 

In recent years, and with so many entertainment destinations requiring content (from traditional TV networks to streaming sites to online platforms like YouTube and Facebook), numerous fandoms have helped their cancelled favourites come back to life. For instance, police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine, outer space political thriller The Expanse and rebooted family sitcom One Day at a Time all found new homes after sustained fan campaigns following their cancellations. 

It's also not unheard of for a passionate fanbase to be rewarded with a feature film farewell (Firefly, Veronica Mars, Carmilla and Sense8 are just a few examples) — and it's a possibility that has apparently crossed Walley-Beckett's mind as well.

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the show's cancellation on Monday, she noted that she'd "love to write an [Anne With An E] finale feature film." 

However, that kind of feature film project for the show isn't on CBC's radar, said Sally Catto, general manager of programming for CBC English Television. 

"It's not something we've had discussions about at this time," she said on Tuesday.

According to Catto, cancelling Anne With An E was a difficult decision made jointly by the Canadian public broadcaster and Netflix, with one main factor being that the show didn't register enough of an audience boost in the 25-54 age range.

"They unfortunately didn't lift enough," Catto explained. "They just weren't reaching our specific target."

Still, the passionate outpouring this week from Anne With An E fans hasn't surprised her.

"It's the sign of a really phenomenal series that's loved around the world."

With files from Eli Glasner