Why You Should Be Watching Little Women, The New Korean Drama Taking Netflix By Storm

With a steady catalog of media new and old, there is quite literally always something to watch on Netflix. The streamer is constantly producing, curating, and promoting a unique plethora of films and shows for our viewing pleasure (and, of course, to make oodles of money). Whatever your tastes, you're guaranteed to find something bingeworthy on the platform. Netflix has even become a host for quality non-English television, especially after the smash success of shows like "Squid Game" and "All of Us Are Dead." But until series achieve ludicrous virality, like the aptly-named "Extraordinary Attorney Woo," it's difficult to keep up with the many, many K-dramas that Netflix churn out.

Fortunately, that might not be the case for another recent drama, the female-led mystery thriller "Little Women." Despite a quiet release on Netflix in early September, the series is already gaining a generous amount of buzz. With its impressive cast and crew and tantalizing storyline, "Little Women" could very well be Netflix's next big hit.

What is Little Women about?

As the show's title suggests, "Little Women" is a loose — like, loose-loose — adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel of the same name. "Little Women" is a story that's undergone countless remakes, especially recently, but few have transplanted the story from antebellum Massachusetts into the present day as the Netflix series does. It drops the quaint slice-of-life conceit of Alcott's novel in favor of the class disparity, greed and corruption that drives so many incredible South Korean crime dramas. But with the titular little women retaining their characterization from the novel, the series joins the ranks of other incredible female-led dramas like "My Name" and "Vagabond."

"Goblin" actress Kim Go-eun is Oh In-joo, the eldest sister of a family that have been fighting to stay afloat for years. Anyone who's consumed their share of "Little Women" adaptations — or better yet, the book itself — will recognize indelible shades of Meg in her character: In-joo is a self-proclaimed lover of pretty, expensive things and equally unattainable boys. More often than not though, she's forced to put those pursuits aside in order to provide for her sisters. In-kyung (Nam Ji-hyun), the middle child, is definitely the Jo: a headstrong, empathetic journalist who struggles to deliver the news without getting emotional on-air. And then there's In-hye (Park Ji-hu), the youngest, who attends a prestigious art academy on scholarship (Amy, duh!).

There's always more to the story

And what about Beth, you might ask? That role falls to Jin Hwa-young (Choo Ja-hyun), In-joo's close friend and co-worker. Hwa-young has a complicated history with one of the most powerful families in the nation, and a double life that forms the crux of the series' juicy mystery. Though her fate mirrors Beth's in "Little Women" — if you know, you know — she remains a major part of the story as In-joo works to solve the secrets she left behind.

The dynamic between the Oh sisters is undeniably pitch perfect, but "Little Women" also benefits from a great supporting cast. There's Oh Hae-seok (Kim Mi-sook), the Oh sisters' affluent great-aunt, and Kang Hoon as Ha Jong-ho, her next-door neighbor who also happens to have a soft spot for In-kyung. If "Little Women" can really be considered an adaptation of the Alcott novel, then Jong-ho is by far one of the most endearing on-screen versions of Theodore Lawrence. But he's not the only swoon-worthy male lead in the series: Wi Ha-joon ("Squid Game") rounds out the main cast as Choi Do-il. He's equally eager to unravel the mysteries in Hwa-young's complicated double life, which finds him teaming up with In-joo.

This is more or less where the parallels to the original "Little Women" end. That aforementioned conspiracy takes center stage for most of the series' two-episode premiere, and it affects each of the Oh sisters in different ways. In-joo finds herself in the possession of a few billion won, In-kung struggles to build a case against a shady politician, and In-hye is caught on the margins of a plagiarism scandal. But it all ties back to one family, the same one that Hwa-young crossed before disappearing. 

From the team that brought you The Handmaiden...

With any adaptation, there's going to be some comparison between versions. Netflix's "Little Women" has its work cut out for it right out of the gate, but it achieves a near flawless balance between the familiar and the new. It makes the series a fantastic entry point for K-drama novices and fans of the classic novel. And there's plenty for longterm drama fans to love here, too: apart from its killer concept and equally-competent cast, the series boasts an impressive female-led team behind the scenes.

"Little Women" was created and written by screenwriter Chung Seo-kyung, a frequent collaborator of director Park Chan-wook. Chung notably penned the screenplays for "The Handmaiden" and "Decision to Leave," and she's brought that same tightly-wound intrigue and strong characterization to "Little Women." She's joined by Kim Hee-won — who recently directed another successful K-drama for Netflix, "Vincenzo" — and Ryu Seong-hee, a production designer known for her work with Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho. If you enjoy the haunting, gritty stories that propelled "The Handmaiden" or "Memories of Murder," "Little Women" definitely won't disappoint. 

New episodes of "Little Women" stream on Saturday and Sunday on Netflix.