‘Little Women’ Champagne Problems: The Modern Relevancy of Jo and Laurie

Jo and Laurie remain a classic picture of unrequited love in ‘Little Women’, but what can we learn from their one-sided pining?

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This is a love story. No, not Fleabag’s hopeless fling with the ‘hot priest’ or a pastel-coated Bridgerton courting. Jo and Laurie of Little Women are real, true friends who love each other enough for the both of them. Why don’t they end up together? Keep reading to find out.

Little Women scene Jo and Laurie
Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in Columbia Pictures’ LITTLE WOMEN.

Jo and Laurie

SPOILER ALERT… Jo and Laurie, the unrequited yet strikingly vibrant titular pairing in Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel Little Women don’t end up together. But why? He confesses his love, she denies him, confused by her own reasoning. In the 2019 film adaptation (directed by Greta Gerwig), Timotheé Chalamet (who plays Laurie), pleas for her love on top of an idyllic, sunset-tinted hill top.

He tells her,

“I’ve loved you ever since I’ve known you Jo, I couldn’t help it.”

As an audience member, a lover, and a devoted dissector of classic literature, I still do not understand why.

Little Women scene adaptation Jo and Laurie
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She turns, confused by her own lack of feelings for him, even though they go see the local plays together and laugh all night over nothing. Alcott’s depiction of Jo as a fearless dreamer, a young woman who wants to build a life for herself without the confines of what is expected of her, remains a picture of influence. Jo could’ve easily just been with Laurie even though she did not love him “as she should.” Jo could’ve been a housewife, a woman of her town who just got married and forgot her dreams. Yet, she persists. Maybe this is the lesson, the modern relevancy of Little Women.

Champagne Problems

Just because everything looks glittery, doesn’t mean it’s gold. Jo and Laurie have their champagne problems just as any other people who know each other better than anyone else would. That comes with the territory of desire— Problems coated in gold and problems the main characters of a Netflix drama would see as trivial. This is something I think film adaptations coming out this year need to explore more in depth. They love each other, they understand each other, and yet, they do not get together.

2023, in my opinion, desperately needs more stories with realistic emotionality like that of Little Women.

Little Women scene Jo and Laurie
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“I think you will marry Jo. I think you’ll find someone and love them, and you will live and die for them because that’s your way, and you will… And I’ll watch.”

Timotheé Chalamet as Theodore ‘Laurie’ Laurence in Little Women (2019).

Jo and Laurie live in our minds because of their natural, undeniable chemistry. The movie, as well as the novel, include many intoxicating conversations between the two about family, and the honesty they give and take is what readers and viewers hold onto. How could anyone not covet their love story, even with its ill-fated ending? This is love as we know it.

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