The "Pitch Perfect" actress stars in this imaginative take on Emily Dickinson's life.
Emily Dickinson: eccentric, recluse (or was she?), great American poet—and now, Hailee Steinfeld? At least in Apple TV+'s free spirited, cheeky take on the poet's life, which also features the likes of Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, 30 Rock) as Dickinson's fretful mother, John Mulaney as Henry David Thoreau, and Zosia Mamet (Girls, The Flight Attendant) as Louisa May Alcott. The "audacious" dramedy, which debuted November 2019, returns to Apple TV+ this year, with three episodes already out as of January 8, and a new episode every Friday.
"Season one gives one answer, which is it was a patriarchy and her father was opposed to women publishing. Season two is going to completely turn that on its head or inside out and give a very different answer, which is that Emily herself had a deeply ambivalent relationship to fame. Season two is really all about fame and the attention economy, which was a central concern in Emily Dickinson's poems. She wrote many, many poems about fame and about running from fame or rejecting fame. But she definitely had an obsession about fame even if she was subverting it."
To tell this story, the show takes creative liberties, but there's still plenty of scholarship behind story choices, like the show's interpretation of Emily Dickinson's relationship with Sue Gilbert. Childhood friend, yes; sister-in-law, yes—but also, according to the show and some scholars, Dickinson's lover. Less scholarly and more stylistic is another creative liberty: the show's delightful flights of fantasy, which recreate the lush imagery and feel of her poetry, conjuring the literal images about which Dickinson wrote. She writes about death "kindly stopping" for her, and guess who pulls up in an opulent carriage? Rapper Wiz Khalifa as Death, smoking a blunt, dressed to the nines.
And as for Emily herself? Hailee Steinfeld is an Emily Dickinson for the ages. An intelligent, witty, stubborn teen girl who just wants freedom and to be somebody—a heroine who, regardless of age, we can all relate to.
Check it out on Apple TV+, and let us know what you think in the comments.