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‘The Woman in White’ on PBS Review: The BBC Turns a Familiar Mystery Into an Enraging Feminist Indictment

The BBC-produced “The Woman in White,” premiering on PBS’ “Masterpiece,” turns the oft-adapted Wilkie Collins novel into a five-hour miniseries and creates the most feminist version to date. Set in Victorian England, the gothic tale examines the twisted circumstances surrounding the arranged marriage between young heiress Laura Fairlie (Olivia Vinall) and the much older Sir Percival Glyde (Dougray Scott). She and her half-sister Marian Halcombe (Jessie Buckley) become embroiled in a grand conspiracy that also involves a mentally ill woman dressed in white. Despite its period setting, the dangerous consequences of gender inequality make this story disturbingly relevant.

The update comes from writer Fiona Seres, who reteams with “Masterpiece” after adapting “The Lady Vanishes” in 2013 from the Ethel Lina White novel that also produced Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1938 film. Like that project, “The Woman in White” explores the frustrations of a society that doesn’t listen to women or believe in their peril.

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