How “Girls” Is Like “Little Women”

Chiara Atik has a theory, but I’m not sure Katharine Hepburn would have approved, to say nothing of Louisa May Alcott: ‘Were the March sisters to trade hoopskirts for rompers, they would probably be able to pass for Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, and Jessa, the four protagonists of the HBO comedy “Girls.” Though “Sex and the City” is often cited as being the precedent for the show, Alcott’s wholesome 1868 novel is the O.G. when it comes to quartets of girls figuring it all out. “Little Women” and “Girls” share the same plot, give or take a sex scene or two; they both tell the story of four girls trying (to varying degrees of success) to grow up. The SATC protagonists are grown-ass women from the get-go, whereas the March sisters and Horvath & friends are still little women, on their way to adulthood, but not quite there yet.

But the similarities between Little Women and Girls goes beyond the basic premise: The characters of the show are analagous in a way that suggests these four girls — the writer, the responsible one, the sweet one, and the wild-child — are time-honored archetypes for American women, rather than products of their creator’s imagination. Or maybe American society and American girlhood just haven’t changed that much in the past 150 years.

Leave a Comment