When I first heard that the CW is developing a gritty, dystopian version of Little Women, my first instinct, like that of many other people, was to lament that the network was going to ruin Louisa May Alcott's classic novel. After all, the book is many things, but it's also nothing if not sentimental; trying to make it "gritty" just sounds like sacrilege. But once I thought about it a little more, I realized that a version of Little Women going unapologetically off-book could be a blessing in disguise: it gives us a chance to rewrite all the aspects of Little Women we wish were different.
Look, I loved this story as much as the next girl. I had a Little Women picture book as a kid that I made my poor mother read over and over. My younger sister and I debated which of the girls we were (for the record, she is so Amy whether she admits it or not). I cried when Beth died. I fell in love with Laurie. And once I got a older and decided to reread the book in non-picture format, I loved it just as much.
However, like many fans, I would also change certain things about it if I could. (It was so good, so why not make it perfect, right?)
Amy and Laurie Shouldn't Get Together
This needs to be said right away. The thing that always made me most upset about these books, hands down, is the fact that Laurie somehow, inexplicably, winds up with Amy. It makes no sense. They were never close when they were younger, and Laurie was always clearly interested in Jo. But then somehow Laurie and Amy meet up in Europe while he's feeling all hurt about Jo rejecting him and they suddenly fall in love? What? No.
Jo's Sexuality Should Be Explored More
Like I said, when I first read the book, I thought Jo and Laurie should definitely end up together. I was so angry when they didn't, partly because it didn't make sense to me that she didn't return his feelings when she always seemed to like him so much. One explanation fans have come latched onto over the years is that Jo might not be attracted to men — and that's not the only clue to suggest it. There are lots of things that point to Jo being gay or possibly asexual, from the text to the fact she was partly based on Alcott herself. And although by the end of the book Jo has met the "right man" and is happily married, in the TV show, it doesn't have to be that way.
Less Domestic Bliss And Happily Ever After
We might as well make the plot less sentimental, too, starting with not making all the happily-ever-afters involve domestic bliss. The only sister who doesn't wind up in love, married, financially stable, having children, and generally happy with everyone and everything is Beth, and that's because she dies. It works for a novel written in the 19th century, but as a 21st century reader, I found it kind of annoying, especially after the girls had faced so many difficult problems in the past.
More Aunt March
Aunt March was a great villain, even if the book was too sophisticated to portray her as evil. She was wealthy but stingy, and looked down on her poor relatives. She also had very particular ideas about decorum and propriety and what people should or shouldn't do, regardless of what real life was like or what real people felt or wanted. The show should definitely make good use of her — and ideally not try to sugarcoat her legacy like the books did.
Less Professor Bhaer
He gets introduced more than halfway through the story, and Jo falls in love with him while listening to him argue in favor of conservative ideals with a few free-thinking students. I vote that he not be involved in the reboot at all, but if he must be included, than at least make him more interesting. Or a villain. That would be nice. (I really didn't like him.)
Don't. Kill. Beth.
This one is not about what I think would be best for the narrative or anything high-minded like that. This is just straight selfishness. Guys, I cried so much when she died. Don't make me cry like that again, please?
Images: Columbia; Giphy (6)