Most of you are probably wondering if THIS Little Women is anything like THAT Little Women. Clkytta and Drama Geek are here to let you know what’s similar, what’s completely different, and why we think this show is worth watching, no matter what your feelings for the original classic may be.
If you look up Little Women, you will find that this Kdrama is the third TV attempt and the seventh onscreen attempt to adapt Louisa May Alcott‘s novel Little Women. This is not the first modern adaptation (yes, there is a 2018 version floating around out there) but it is the first Korean version, and the writer took liberties. The similarities section will be short, and then we can talk about the meat of the show and how you should judge it based on what you are seeing in front of you, instead of trying to fit it into a box with a certain label on it.
(Mild spoilers for episode 1-4 below)
Characters – We have our plucky sisters: hard-working Oh In Joo (Meg), frazzled but determined Oh In Kyung (Jo), and youngest sister Oh In Hye (Amy). The fourth sister, Beth, is missing from this story, but this is explained in episode 3. We even have a handsome Laurie and cantankerous Aunt Josephine. The girls’ mother is not the Marmee we are used to; this mother is selfish and crafty.
Plot – The original story is set during the American Civil War as the March family tries to survive wartime economies and help the families around them. In this story, the Oh family has suffered due to the IMF crisis. Their family is working to pay off debts and struggling to survive. There are several familiar links to the story as Oh In Joo longs for a home and wealth, Oh In Kyung is a reporter, and Oh In Hye shows an incredible talent with art. The addition of a mystery involving corporate corruption that results in several untimely deaths brings this story a fresh new perspective.
Orchid of Death
Family was at the core of the original, and that is no different with this drama. Each sister gets entangled with the upper crust of society and puts their life in danger in different ways. Mostly they to try to protect one another and live a better life.
In Joo befriends an outcast at work, who kills herself and leaves In Joo two billion won. At first, the money seems like the answer to all her problems. Instead, it’s only part of a slush fund that her friend took from very important people. Choi Do Il (Wi Ha Joon!) works for the higher-ups, but also seems to be playing a game all for himself. In Joo is well aware that he just wants the money, but joins forces with him anyway.
Oh In Kyung is a dogged reporter who wants to expose Park Jae Sang, who is running for office. He has a mysterious background and is married to a very influential woman. Their daughter is BFFs with the youngest Oh sibling, and they have shepherded her into their family like a lost little lamb. This family’s obsession with poor people is a bit bizarre. Park Jae Sang was on a case that In Kyung covered when she first became a reporter, and many people involved committed suicide. A blue orchid ties most of the suicides together and leaves a trail of clues for In Kyung and her Laurie (Kang Hoon) to follow.
Through the Looking Glass
Each actress playing a sister is doing a phenomenal job in this. When Kim Go Eun finds the two billion won, you can see both sadness for the loss of her friend but also the utter relief that life might not be so bad moving forward. Park Ji Hoo is nailing a fantastic combo that’s both Amy’s impertinence and faith in her artistic abilities and Beth’s bleak look on life. Such a great job from this young actress.
The production took a lot of care in creating each environment for the different groups to inhabit. Pay attention while watching the scenes in Jin Hwa Young’s apartment. Just the wallpaper alone sets the mood for what her life was like. There’s a scene at Park Jae Sang’s house in episode 4 that felt almost magical and reminded me of parts of Hotel Del Luna. The directing really complements the settings and pulls you into every scene. This director did both Vincenzo and The Crowned Clown, and I’d say she is channeling the latter for this show. Lots of tense moments with beautiful intrigue.
Drama Geek: While the show doesn’t have the warm family feeling from the source material, its departure from that does leave you a bit shaken and cold. It’s a purposeful choice, in the way Parasite or Squid Game made a distinct choice on how to show the disparity between the rich and the poor. My hope is that the sisters lean on each other through their crisis and become a stronger family. It will be hard since Park Jae Sang’s wife (Uhm Ji Won) loves to collect people and has her sights on at least two of the sisters.
Clkytta: I am a huge fan of the original Little Women. That said, I love the way this adaptation is playing out. These characters seem well developed, and that’s the secret to a good adaptation. This drama is so hard-hitting and in your face with the sacrifices people make when they are poor. The helplessness, the hopelessness, and the dog eat dog feel, which is only highlighted by the abandonment of the girls by their mother. I want these characters to rise up. I want to see them live good lives.
Will you watch?
Clkytta & Drama Geek
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi