Brow Beat

Dickinson Delivers an Emily Dickinson for the YOLO Set

Apple has released the first peek at its Apple TV+ exclusive Dickinson, Alena Smith’s new series starring Hailee Steinfeld as a rebellious Emily Dickinson who “audaciously explores the constraints of society, gender, and family.” Judging from the trailer, the show promises a new take on the traditional portrayal of Dickinson, showing the poet to be less of a shy and shuttered victim of patriarchal confinement and more of a subversive young hell-raiser. If you’re looking for A Quiet Passion, look not here. In Dickinson, the poet’s obsession with death is revealed to be more of a YOLO thing than a, you know, mortality thing. “She’s wild,” complains an exasperated Jane Krakowski as Emily Dickinson’s outraged mother. “She’ll be the ruin of this family!”

The show also stars Ella Hunt and Samuel Farnsworth as Sue Gilbert and George Gould, both theorized by academics to have had possibly more than platonic relationships with Dickinson at various points. Gilbert in particular is said to be the subject of much homoerotic attention from the poet, particularly as the audience for much of her works and letters. Short of opium, this Emily Dickinson is up to all the forms of rebellion and debauchery that 19th century Massachusetts could muster. Whether she’s getting in strange carriages, dancing lewdly, writing secret notes to ambiguous lovers, dressing up like a mime or dressing up like a man, this Emily Dickinson is bold, ambitious, and ready to party. History be damned!