When schools teach the poetry of Emily Dickinson, there's an image of her that comes with it. A lonely spinster, put on the shelf, literally trapped in her parents' attic, scribbling away where no one would ever see her. She's presented as a tragic figure of sorts, who only found fame in death. But there's a new brand of scholarship that's recently come to light about this famous poet that paints her very differently. And the new Dickinson trailer from Apple TV+ suggests this Emily was a lot more fun than anyone could have guessed.
This new vision of Emily Dickinson insists she was not alone in her attic but had a lifelong love affair with Susan Gilbert. Gilbert and Emily were so determined not to be parted that Sarah married Emily's brother Austin, and moved them next door. Austin's mistress, Mabel Loomis Todd, who edited Emily's works after her death, took out all references to Sarah. This was partly to keep the family from any sort of scandal.
This story of a complicated four-way relationship in the Dickinson family was recently the subject of a film, Wild Nights With Emily. Now, this new view of Emily Dickinson is also the foundation for one of Apple TV+'s debut series at launch, Dickinson.
Check out the trailer:
Most would assume simply from the subject matter than Dickinson is an hour-long period drama, something along the lines of what one might find on PBS or HBO. But as the trailer reveals, this is far more of a CW-style teen romp, with rebellious Emily trying to break out of a society that prefers she lives a quiet, repressed, and tragic life.
Here's the synopsis for the series, which Apple TV+ describes as "a half-hour comedy."
Dickinson is a coming-of-age story told through the lens of Emily Dickinson that finds her to be an unexpected hero for our millennial era. Set in the 19th century, the series explores the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a rebellious young poet who was ahead of her time.
The only thing missing so far from the show is if Emily will sing or not. With Hailee Steinfeld starring as Emily Dickinson, it seems odd to not use her vocal talents along with her acting chops. But time will tell.
Dickinson also stars Ella Hunt as Sue Gilbert, and Adrian Enscoe as Emily's bother Austin Dickinson. (Note that his mistress Mabel is not part of the first season.) Anna Baryshnikov plays younger sister Lavinia, and Toby Huss and Jane Krakowski play Emily's parents.
The series will be comprised of 10 half-hour episodes, though it's not clear how many of these will be available at launch when Apple TV+ arrives on Nov. 1. Rumor is Apple TV+ will follow the Hulu model. That is, drop two or three episodes the first week and one thereafter, instead of the all-at-once Netflix "binge" model. But that has yet to be confirmed.
Dickinson will premiere on Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.