Before the Progressive Era, children were regarded as aspiring adults with as many responsibilities as they could handle.
For 100 years, the US government has tracked the birth rate. It is now at historic lows. There are many reasons, but one has to do with the dramatic change in the way society regards the economic value of kids.
To illustrate the point, let’s reflect on the continuing popularity of Anne of Green Gables, the 1908 book by Canadian writer Lucy M. Montgomery. Yes, it is charming, and ridiculously so. It’s beyond me why the new Netflix rendering (Anne with an E) is getting bad reviews. It’s probably because so many people are attached to the book and the myriad previous cinematic renderings. Still, I find the new one delightful in every way, and I’ve been thinking on precisely why.
Beyond the solid acting and timeless story of a brilliant orphan growing up and finding her way in the world, the show introduces us into a time gone by. It is set on Prince Edward Island sometime in the late 19th century, before cars, phones, and indoor temperature control. So, sure, that’s different. So is the language and cultural mores.