Scroll down to the bottom of the page for our video recap of Part I of PBS’ Little Women.
Let’s get one thing straight: Girls in the northeast during the Civil War would have had hair on their legs. But OK.
This was a favorite book for a lot of little women growing up: It’s a novel for American girls.
And PBS’ adaptation features one of the greatest actresses of our time, Angela Lansbury. Still, the woman is astoundingly good, and her turn as Aunt March is perfection. I could watch her act all day, every day.
What resonated for me in Part I is that bravery takes many forms. Writing a story with no real way to sell it, for instance, is brave. We forget how much women did and how they didn’t want to do just one thing. Men could do anything. Women had to mend clothes and wash dishes—all necessary things, but compulsory. It wasn’t like they had an option to say, “No thanks.”
Plenty of things burned in this first episode, too. Jo burns her sister Meg’s hair. Like, clean off, and without hair extensions it’s just gone for good.
And, true to the book, Jo donates her hair for money when her mother needs to leave quickly to see to their ailing father. It doesn’t seem quite even for her to lose all of her hair, but she doesn’t care. At least that’s what she says: Hair grows back. Her words are much harder to resurrect when her nasty sister, Amy, decides to burn her book when she gets mad at her.
The sisters, Jo, Amy, Meg, and Beth are played convincingly, and if it’s possible, I hated this version of Amy more than ever before.
Another character I have no time for is the neighbor boy, Laurie. He’s just weak in character. I know he’s Jo’s friend, and I have always loved that he has a name that would be considered feminine and hers is a name considered by many to be masculine.
Not that Laurie isn’t adorable—he is. But come on. He’s so entitled, pretty, and vapid.
Marmee is brave, too: She takes on everything with her family while her husband is gone and she manages everything as well as she can with common sense.
Jo wants to make money with her pen: brave.
Beth wants to play Mr. Laurence’s piano, and one step at a time tries to make it there: brave.
Meg wants to fit in and she puts herself out there: brave
Marmee leaves her girls at home to care for her husband: brave.
And that’s the theme of Part I. While Jo is always talking about manliness and how if she were a man she could do more, she does plenty: Bravery knows no gender.
Keri is a professional chatterbox who loves watching TV & movies, reading about pop culture, and gawking at any craziness on the internet. You can follow Keri on Twitter.