Did you miss PBS’s 3-episode adaptation of Little Women? Well, don’t you worry. Here is a short recap of each episode by Daria Buvanova. However, Daria recommends you watch the series anyway. Just saying. Also, here is a giant SPOILER ALERT! If you don’t want to know what happens (in delightfully sarcastic detail) during the series, don’t read any further.
Little Women Episode 1 Recap
No one can expect anything but perfection from a PBS series. From the costumes and set design to the tears and laughter, everything in Little Women is destined to be great. The March sisters — Meg (Willa Fitzgerald), Jo (Maya Hawke), Beth (Annes Elwy), and Amy (Kathryn Newton) — live in their New England home with their mother “Marmee” (Emily Watson) while their father (Dylan Baker) serves as a Union chaplain in the Civil War.
The first episode opens at Christmas. The girls aren’t getting any presents this year because they don’t have much money. But Marmee manages to sneak a little something under their pillows anyway. So sweet! Christmas morning, Marmee and the sisters head to town to bring food to a poor family. That poor family is literally in rags. Marmee is big on charity, and so are some of the girls.
Theodore Laurence, “Laurie” (Jonah Hauer-King), moves in across the street from the March family to live with his grandfather (Michael Gambon). Both of his parents are dead. But hey, he’s got money. Laurie has his own tutor, John Brooke (Julian Morris). They’re basically friends since John is only a few years older than Laurie.
So, let’s talk about the girls some more. Meg is a governess in town for a rich family. She’s everything one would expect a 19th-century, well-behaved girl to be. Jo is loud, un-ladylike, and loves to write. In fact, she’s writing a novel! She is a companion for their rich, lonely, and extremely judgemental Aunt March (Angela Lansbury). She disapproves of many, many things. (Any Nanny McPhee fans out there? This character is oddly familiar to Aunt Adelaide portrayed by the one and only Angela Lansbury. What a small world.) Anyway… Beth doesn’t attend school so she just stays home with Marmee. She is painfully quiet and shy. And Amy, well…Amy is definitely still a kid. She goes to school, has an attitude, and likes all things pretty. Moving on.
Laurie (and John) invite Jo and Meg to the theater. Amy gets mad because Jo said she can’t go with them. But she wasn’t invited so… Come on Amy, grow up a little. It’s clear that Laurie has a thing for Jo. He even asks her and Meg to switch seats to sit closer to Jo. While at the theater, Amy burns the novel Jo was writing in the fire. Jo brings home sweets from the theater for Amy and Meg informs Amy there are tickets available for the theater for next week. All is well… for a few seconds, until Jo learns what Amy did. It turns into a quite the fight; definitely worth watching. Jo says she can’t forgive Amy and that’s that.
As the story continues, Jo spends a lot of her free time with Laurie. It’s clear that he likes her but they’re not even flirting. Well, Laurie tries to flirt with Jo but it doesn’t quite seem to work. Which is a shame, because Laurie is hot. Anyway, they decide to go ice-skating. Laurie warns Jo about crackling noises and thin ice. Basically, he tells her to be careful. He cares! It’s so sweet! Then Amy joins them. Jo is still pissed. But wouldn’t you be if all of your hard work was destroyed by your brat of a sister? Amy steps on the ice and falls in. Ooops, I guess no one warned her to be careful. For a few minutes there, it’s pretty scary. It seems like Amy might either drown or freeze to death. (It’s like a Shonda Rhimes series here!) But Jo and Laurie pull her out and Amy doesn’t even catch a cold! Phew! And of course, Jo and Amy’s relationship is back to normal.
With all this commotion, you almost forget that there is a war going on until Marmee gets a telegram: Mr. March is ill. She plans to go see him. Jo sells her hair — her “one beauty” according to pretty much everyone in this show — in order to get the money for Marmee to afford to travel. Meanwhile, Aunt March gives money to Marmee for her to trip. Turns out she has a heart after all. John Brooke accompanies Marmee. The March sisters are left at home, scared of what is to come.