PBS Brings ‘Little Women’ To A New Generation

By Meredith Blake
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new generation of women will be introduced to the March family as the latest incarnation of “Little Women,” premieres as a three-part “Masterpiece” miniseries on Sunday.

Los Angeles Times

Am I a Jo, a Beth, an Amy or a Meg?

It’s a question that generations of readers have asked themselves while immersed in “Little Women,” Louisa May Alcott’s cherished coming-of-age tale about four sisters in Civil War-era Massachusetts.

While many admirers of the book see themselves in Jo, the bookish tomboy and obvious stand-in for Alcott herself, others find aspects of themselves reflected in beautiful, nurturing Meg; shy, frail Beth; vain, materialistic Amy. Still others identify with their virtuous mother, Marmee.

Which may be why, like “Pride and Prejudice” or “Great Expectations,” “Little Women” over the decades has been adapted numerous times, into films, TV shows, an opera, a musical and even two anime series. The latest incarnation of “Little Women,” a three-part “Masterpiece” miniseries, premieres Sunday on PBS.

Co-produced by the BBC, the series was written by Heidi Thomas, creator and showrunner of “Call the Midwife,” another period drama focused on the lives of women.

Starring Emily Watson as Marmee, Angela Lansbury as the formidable matriarch Aunt March and Maya Hawke as aspiring writer Jo, it tells a tale of young women coming of age in a fraught period that will resonate with contemporary viewers, bonnets and all.

“It’s a book that exists outside of its own context, outside of its own time, outside of its own geography,” said Thomas. “The relationships between the girls are extraordinarily durable, very passionate and alive. They don’t feel like characters in a Victorian novel, and I think for that reason it hasn’t dated.”

The idea of revisiting the March family first arose in conversations between the BBC and executive producer Colin Callender, whose company Playground is known for its small-screen adaptations (“Howards End” on Starz, the upcoming “King Lear” for Amazon). They approached Thomas, whose “Call the Midwife” is one of the most popular shows on British television.

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