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Hannah Horvath = Jo March?
February 10, 2014 1:10 PM   Subscribe

"How Girls is Like Little Women": Chiara Atik argues that the characters in the HBO show Girls are essentially modern-day versions of the March sisters in Louisa May Alcott's classic American novel Little Women. "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."

Atik's play based on this idea, Women, is currently running in NYC's Under St. Mark's Theatre. Tagline: SOMETIMES BEING A GIRL IN 1860 IS REALLY. HARD.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (50 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
From the comments on the article, because I couldn't put it any better:
Any group of four women does not necessarily resemble Little Women any more than a group of five women resembles Pride and Prejudice.

posted by telegraph at 1:19 PM on February 10 [15 favorites]


It does kind of show up as a pattern though over and over. Any time there's a group of girls there's always a sweet one, a responsible one, and a wild one. Even Powerpuff Girls.
posted by bleep at 1:27 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


You could make the same argument for Sex and the City - the writer (Carrie), the responsible one (Miranda), the sweet one (Charlotte), and the wild-child (Samantha).
posted by elvissa at 1:28 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Four-temperament Ensemble
posted by Iridic at 1:32 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Is here where I say I actually dislike Little Women? It is treacle poured down your throat from start to finish. I don't know if that book is to blame for the stereotypes (Pretty one! Sexy one! Brainy one! Nice/doormat one!) inflicted on any group of women characters from Sex and the City to My Little Pony, but I find it lazy and boring.
posted by emjaybee at 1:33 PM on February 10


You could make the same argument for Sex and the City - the writer (Carrie), the responsible one (Miranda), the sweet one (Charlotte), and the wild-child (Samantha).

Unless I missed something, Girls is at least in part a response to SATC. They even call it out in the first episode.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:35 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


I think we just really like putting women into buckets. Buckets with names like, say, the writer, the responsible one, the sweet one, the wild-child.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:37 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I suspect this may be intended as a compliment?
posted by LogicalDash at 1:40 PM on February 10


Four-temperament Ensemble

Yeah, my first thought was the Ninja Turtles. It's even in their theme song:
"Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines (That's a fact, Jack!)
Raphael is cool but rude (Gimme a break!)
Michaelangelo is a party dude (Party!)"
posted by muddgirl at 1:40 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


Yeah. No.
posted by mynameisluka at 1:44 PM on February 10


(I say this as someone who wrote a damn book about Little Women. Sigh.)
posted by mynameisluka at 1:44 PM on February 10


It could also be seen as The Facts of Life without the urban legend about a serial killer haunting a pastry shop, or some of the on-screen characters resorting to extreme measures while representing Zsa Zsa Gabor's cosmetics company.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:44 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Which one is Ringo?
posted by kyrademon at 1:47 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


> Is here where I say I actually dislike Little Women? It is treacle poured down your throat from start to finish.

Then I recommend March, by Geraldine Brooks. It's the story of the dad in Little Women, who's off fighting in the Civil War. SPOILERS: not a happy tale.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:49 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


"How Little Women is Like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."
posted by Navelgazer at 1:51 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


And here I thought Girls was total fanfic of Moorcock's eternal champion series with Hannah being Elric and Adam being Stormbringer.

But sometimes allegories confuse me.
posted by bswinburn at 2:06 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Now I want to see Little Women rebooted as The Fantastic Four, Victorian age superheroes fighting steampunk zombies with their pet wombat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on February 10 [4 favorites]


Is here where I say I actually dislike Little Women? It is treacle poured down your throat from start to finish.

(sigh...) Yeah, probably so. But, I read it in a place and time so different from today and loved it so much. It's still one of my favorite books, though I recognize that I am increasingly alone in finding pleasure in its simple stories.
posted by marsha56 at 2:12 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


Also like Little Women, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a coming-of-age story.
posted by muddgirl at 2:16 PM on February 10


Obligatory link to Periods Films' Lil Women.
posted by Sara C. at 2:19 PM on February 10


Or maybe American society and American girlhood just haven’t changed that much in the past 150 years.

It's partially this. Alexis de Tocqueville gets quoted all the time in reference to modern stuff.
posted by LionIndex at 2:20 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I've been intending to do a reread of Little Women for a while now, but am glad I waited until after seeing this thread, because obviously I'm going to need to keep an eye out for Ninja Turtles parallels.
posted by asperity at 2:28 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Which one is Ringo?

Shoshanna
posted by vibrotronica at 3:05 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Any group of four women does not necessarily resemble Little Women any more than a group of five women resembles Pride and Prejudice.

So which Spice Girl is Mary Bennett?
posted by muddgirl at 3:11 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Ginger Spice, I should think.
posted by Iridic at 3:12 PM on February 10


Ok now I'm trying to place Cheerleader, So-and-So, Whatsherface and The Ugly One into this quartet and am failing miserably.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:14 PM on February 10 [16 favorites]


Oh My God - We're Just Like the Girls on Sex and the City!
posted by themanwho at 3:20 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I think there are a lot of close comparisons between Girls and Disney's The Gummi Bears, too (from Wikipedia):

"Gruffi Gummi is an old-fashioned bear who prefers to do things "the Gummi way", and the de facto leader of Gummi Glen. ... When it comes to building and using tools he is a perfectionist, which can be his undoing at times. In the first episode, he was distrustful of Cavin, but later on in the same episode, he unknowingly admitted that he secretly liked him. However, at other times Gruffi is respected as the voice of stability when the other Gummis fall into despair.

Tummi Gummi ... enjoys a good meal, and would much rather be eating the Gummiberries than picking them. Of all the kid Gummis in Gummi Glen, Tummi is the oldest. He has a rather relaxed and easygoing personality, which often gets him caught up in Cubbi's schemes. However, in dangerous situations, Tummi has shown exceptional bravery. Throughout the series he shows signs of being a talented sailor, gardener, artist and craftsman.

Sunni Gummi is a preteen Gummi, who dreams about becoming a princess just like her best friend the human Princess Calla. Sunni is the most curious about human culture and human fashion, and least concerned with Gummi history. She is the second oldest of the kid Gummis, behind only Tummi Gummi. Later in the series she is shown to have a crush on Gusto.

Augustus "Gusto" Gummi is an artistic, individualist Gummi who was stranded on a deserted island for twelve years with his best friend Artie Deco, a wise talking toucan. Tummi and Gruffi were shipwrecked on Gusto's island, just as a volcano was due to erupt and cause the island to sink into the sea. The three bears worked together and brought Gusto home with them to Gummi Glen during season 2. Gruffi tends to argue with Gusto for his outside-the-box thinking, and how much influence he is on Cubbi and Sunni. He lives by himself in a makeshift apartment behind a waterfall but lives in Gummi Glen when the weather is too harsh."

I miss this show.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:56 PM on February 10 [5 favorites]


Also, the similarities between the cocaine episode and gummiberry juice are too obvious to ignore: "Drinking too much Gummiberry Juice has unforeseen side effects on the consumer."
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:13 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Yes, but what about the Fraggles?
posted by Sara C. at 4:14 PM on February 10


Girls is more like prisoner Fletcher's version of Little Women, but set in NYC.
posted by w0mbat at 4:26 PM on February 10


Guys is Tim Riggins Raphael or Michaelangelo? Serious question.
posted by Beardman at 4:50 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Raphael, obvs. I'm pretty sure Tara is Michelangelo.
posted by muddgirl at 4:59 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Ok now I'm trying to place Cheerleader, So-and-So, Whatsherface and The Ugly One into this quartet and am failing miserably.

This might be why Teen Girl Squad is the only "girl quartet" art I've ever enjoyed.
posted by like_a_friend at 5:42 PM on February 10


Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, Phlegmatic.


That's alll you need to know.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:48 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Mary Bennett is obviously Posh Spice. So dour.
posted by apricot at 6:06 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Jason Street = Leonardo
Landry = Donatello
Riggins = Raphael
Tyra = Michaelangelo

Buddy Garrity = BeBop and Rocksteady

Coach Eric Taylor = Master Splinter
Coach Tami Taylor (as she is called in my household) = April O'Neill
Baby Gracie = Krang
posted by Beardman at 6:08 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I once claimed (and provided evidence in detail) that Boogie Nights was a modern retelling of The Once and Future King, so I am pretty sure you can pick and choose to make any two stories go together if you are so inclined.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:12 PM on February 10 [7 favorites]


Louisa May Alcott was WAY more interesting to me once I learned her dad was involved in the Fruitlands Utopia

And I was sucker for the 1933 movie because of my undying love of Katherine Hepburn.

That being said, does this mean that Shosh is going to bite it?
posted by KernalM at 6:15 PM on February 10


Why is this a surprise? After all, there are only four humors.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:09 PM on February 10


CTRL-F Golden Girls
No one appreciates the classics.
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:29 PM on February 10 [9 favorites]


There's even a science-like model:
In psychology, the Big Five personality traits are five broad domains or dimensions of personality that are used to describe human personality. The theory based on the Big Five factors is called the Five Factor Model (FFM). The Big Five factors are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:09 PM on February 10


As long as she's being critical of Girls, I welcome her argument.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:38 PM on February 10


the writer, the responsible one, the sweet one, and the wild-child

Rick, Neil, Mike[citation needed], Vyvyan

Lister[citation needed], Rimmer, Kryten, Cat
posted by Sys Rq at 10:40 PM on February 10 [3 favorites]


...ah, but the "Britcoms of the 1980s" version does become more clear-cut when it's all-female:

Lady Carlton, Amanda, Jennifer, Candice/Shelley
posted by Sys Rq at 10:46 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Dmitri = Vin Diesel
Alyosha = Paul Walker
Ivan = Tyrese
Smerdyakov = Michelle Rodriguez
posted by zbsachs at 1:26 PM on February 11


elvissa: "You could make the same argument for Sex and the City - the writer (Carrie), the responsible one (Miranda), the sweet one (Charlotte), and the wild-child (Samantha)."

Friends:

Chandler the writer (intellectual)
Monica the responsible one
Phoebe the sweet one
Joey the wild-child
and the two other characters.

The Fantastic Four:
Mr. Fantastic the writer (intellectual)
Sue the responsible one
Ben Grimm the sweet one
Johnny the wild-child

Deep Space Nine
Jake the writer
Capt. Sisko the responsible one
Odo the sweet one
Kira the wild-child

Yes, you can probably pretend that any group of four characters is defined by this trope.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:11 PM on February 11


Madame Mao, the writer
Yao Wenyuan, the responsible one
Zhang Chunqiao, the sweet one
Wang Hongwen, the wild-child
posted by Iridic at 3:13 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Jean-Luc Picard = Captain Ray Holt
Will Riker = Jake Perralta
Worf = Terry
Data = Boyle
Tasha Yar = Rosa Diaz
Beverly Crusher = Amy Santiago (yes I know they want us to ship Perralta and Santiago, but shhhhhh)
Deanna Troi = Gina Linetti

Unfortunately there's no Geordi. Yet.
posted by Sara C. at 10:36 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


I think Terry is Riker and Jake is Geordi. Given that he's usually paired with Boyle. Rosa is Worf.
posted by bleep at 12:55 PM on February 12 [2 favorites]


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