Imagining the Gritty Dystopian ‘Little Women’ -The Toast

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“Some people seemed to get all sunshine, and some all shadow…”
–Little Women

The CW Network recently announced the development of a ‘hyper-stylized, gritty adaptation’ of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women set in dystopian Philadelphia. Here are our suggestions for what that show could look like.


In the year 2266, Contentment has become the most coveted — and expensive — resource in the United Colonies of Amerasia. As the March family toils away, trying to survive in the harsh post-industrial city of Delphia, Father sells five years of his life to Amerasia’s Supreme Family in exchange for food and medicine rations for Marmee and the girls. During his indentured servitude, Father spends his days digging wells outside the palace and his nights being ‘Harvested’ — a scientific procedure through which his memories of happiness and contentment are transplanted to the ailing Supreme Leader.

mad_march_2Jo, the illimitable scribe of the March family, leads the resistance in her own way by anonymously publishing content on the dark net as well as discreetly laundering rationed minutes of online access in hopes of buying out Father’s contract before all his happy memories can be Harvested. But Jo’s means of saving Father and getting her message to the people is shattered when the youngest March sister, sociopathic social-climber Amy, discovers Jo hacking into the wi-fi grid and destroys her link in a fit of rage.

Jo then sells her one true beauty — one of her green eyes, rare in color and highly coveted in society — and cobbles together a new prosthetic eye formed from junkyard mechanical parts. She gets back into the network and continues her work to try and free Father. Her hours are spent penning a hard copy of events in an attempt to preserve their story for future generations and patrolling the family’s land with her trusty rifle, which she has named ‘Pilgrim’s Progress.’

mad_march_3Despite her hardened exterior, Jo is also singlehandedly responsible for keeping her Great-Aunt March, a wealthy but agoraphobic World War IV widow, alive by sneaking her Adrenalife, a medicinal life extender banned for use among commoners. Jo tries to help Great-Aunt March remember where she buried her deceased husband’s stolen government secrets.

Oldest March sister, benevolent Meg, spends her days teaching orphaned children from a family just over the border how to deactivate land mines and trade their parts on the black market for food and medicine rations. When she falls in love with the eldest Supreme Daughter’s tutor, she exchanges her life of rebellion for life in the palace, leaving younger sister Jo to find solace and companionship with the Supreme Daughter Lori herself, a philosophy junkie and secret resistance sympathizer.

mad_march_5Meanwhile, because of her facial symmetry (with the exception of her decidedly un-aristocratic nose) and naturally wide hips, youngest March sister Amy is marked at a young age as a potential mate for the Supreme Sons, and is thus required to attend School — an ongoing training and grooming program for girls aged 13 to 18 that produces all of the future First Wives. At School, Amy develops an addiction to LIME, a synthetic extract produced by the government after the destruction of all natural produce. She is nearly killed when she wanders too close to the Ice Flats which border Delphia, but is begrudgingly saved by Jo and Lori.

Amy strikes up a correspondence and secret relationship with Lori, and both ultimately shirk their responsibilities and political aspirations to run away together. This sparks a six-season love triangle between Jo, Lori, and Amy. In seasons 7 through 9 it becomes a love square involving Jo, Lori, Amy, and Fritz — a penniless teen doctor who dreams of building a communal farming utopia in the borderlands.

Tragically, Beth dies. To revive her, Marmee risks a daring transfusion. It succeeds in bringing Beth back to life, but also creates within her a half-immunity to the virus that killed her — the side effects include occasional premonitory visions as well as a thorough depletion of energy and iron that force Beth to become a sanguinarian, someone who must drink substantial amounts of human blood just to survive. Beth attempts to counter the effects of her visions, and satiate her blood-thirst, by becoming a hooded vigilante known only as ‘the Scarlet Fever.’


Illustrator: Hallie Bateman is on Twitter and Instagram

Emily Henry is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. Her debut young-adult novel, The Love That Split the World, will be available from Penguin/Razorbill in January 2016. Carly Lane is a writer, unapologetic Ravenclaw, and curator of obscure pop culture facts. Her work has appeared on HelloGiggles, The Mary Sue, Femsplain and elsewhere on the Internet.

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