We're Getting Not 1, But 2 Little Women Adaptations

Image via Columbia Pictures.
Image via Columbia Pictures.

The world is about to be hit with two adaptations of Little Women in one year, just in time for the book’s 150th anniversary, and I am not mentally prepared for it.


PBS is collaborating with Masterpiece and the BBC on a three part mini-series scripted by Heidi Thomas, directed by Vanessa Caswill and executive produced by Colin Callender.

“The mini-series is a storytelling form unique to television, and the opportunity to adapt Louisa May Alcott’s novel over three hours is a gift from the BBC and MASTERPIECE on PBS,” said executive producer Callender. “This is a character study of young women rich in texture and detail, and it’s an honour to be able to bring it to life in this extended form with the great Heidi Thomas, one of the finest writers working in television today. In the hands of the exciting directorial style of filmmaker Vanessa Caswill we hope to deliver a new screen version that will speak to contemporary audiences, meet the expectations of the book’s ardent fans and bring a whole new generation to this great classic.”

Okay, wow, I am not ready to see this, nor this photo of the cast of Instagram flower crown-wearing models portraying the March sisters. There were no half-up dos in the March household, okay? Save it for a bridal mag:

You can see the whole cast here, and yes, much like Winona Ryder, the actress playing Jo is too comely! Remember how everyone in the theater laughed when her sister says, “Oh, Jo, your only beauty!” after Ryder reveals that she cut off her hair? I do.

But there’s also a movie coming out, according to Deadline, directed by newcomer Clare Niederpruem, who also co-wrote the adaptation with her partner Kristi Shimek. Filming began in June, and it is also coming out in 2018.


This is all honestly too much, even as someone who read Little Women about a thousand times, hoping that the book would somehow change, and Amy would never marry aimless-ass Laurie. I will watch the adaptation that corrects Alcott’s egregious relationship error.

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


Curious Squid

The problem with the Jo thing was that when the book was written, being “coltish”, tall, thin and angular wasn’t the mainstream female beauty ideal, so Meg being dainty, petite, and “plump” (ie nicely curved and not fat but not too skinny either) was The Hot March Sister. Whereas nowadays being lean and willowy is the ideal so a Jo who looks like book Jo won’t be plain by our standards.*

That’s obviously aside from the fact that of course movies and TV shows rarely cast actresses who aren’t conventionally attractive as protagonists we are supposed to like. So far in the films I think Katherine Hepburn has come the closest to looking like Book Jo, and she really nailed the “boisterous baby giraffe” physicality of teenage Jo too.

And in the Gillian Armstrong movie, I think they got away with Amy wailing “Your one beauty!” at a Jo who looked like Winona Ryder because that’s how tween/teenage Amy rolls.

I love the Armstrong movie and think I might watch the DVD tonight.

Having said all that, looking at the above image I have no idea who’s playing who as they all look “generically pretty white actress in period dress”, and I had to look it up on google.

* I think the web series adaptation The March Family Letters did a very subtle and good job of updating Jo’s “not the mainstream beauty ideal but still banging” look to the 21st century.