Metadata: 2018 | TV-PG | 3 episodes, 1h each
Genre: coming of age, family drama, romance
Why I watched: I love the 1994 version with Winona Ryder, so when I heard PBS was putting out a new 3-part version, I knew I had to check it out.
You might also like: The classic 1994 movie is on Netflix! If you've never seen it, you're in for a treat. If you have, treat yo self and watch it again. Also, Death Comes to Pemberley, a 3-part series based on P.D. James's novel, a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, is on Netflix, too.
Before you read any further, stop what you're doing and take this quiz to learn which of the four March sisters you are! I'm an Amy, apparently, and Liz is a Meg. (But really, we're both Josephine!) Okay, now hit me up on Twitter to tell me which one you are, please and thank you.
Now that we've taken care of that, grab your tissues, my friends. This 3-part adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel is a tear-jerker. It really does the most with Beth's suffering and eventual death, drawing out the pain (for everyone involved, including you) longer than I expected. Maybe I was in the mood for a good cry to begin with, though, or maybe I just felt such joy at watching a story I know so well unfold in a new way that I didn't mind three hours of somewhat gratuitous sadness.
Okay, I know I'm not making Little Women sound all that appealing right now, but hear me out. This miniseries is sad, yes, but it's also beautiful and funny and touching and filled with laughter. I don't think this newest Masterpiece Theater version is perfect, but it is well worth a watch. There are so many gorgeous scenes and vignettes in these three hours, including lush lingering close-ups of fresh freckled faces and gorgeous little chickens and vibrant rain-kissed flowers. And, okay, I love Winona, BUT I think Maya Hawke's Jo is pretty spot on. The 19-year-old actor (daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke) is a little gangly, and a little clumsy, and she's fresh-faced and pretty (even if Amy says Jo's hair is her "one true beauty"), but also a tiny bit homely. In other words, she's a vision—and so are the other three sisters. In fact, I think the casting is excellent across the board.
The especially special thing about watching this is that it recalled former versions of myself to me. Watching Little Women with Winona on VHS was at least a yearly ritual with my mom and sisters growing up. I read and re-read the novel, too, and took such comfort and joy from it every time. Watching this latest imagining of it made me realize just how long it's been since the last time I engaged with this story. It grounded me and made me deeply happy in that way, and I hope it will do the same to you. But I suspect that even—maybe especially—if you've never experienced Little Women before, you'll be wholly enchanted when you watch this gorgeous miniseries.
Happy (if tearful) streaming! Grace