Apple TV’s Dickinson brings us a modern take on a 19th Century marvel; Emily Dickinson.
As the introduction of season 2 highlights, the years of Emily’s life after her brother Austin marries Sue are partially unknown. Nevertheless, Dickinson explores the journey that Emily likely embarked on through her early adulthood.
With the appearance of a period piece but the language and music of a modern day teen drama, a uniquely brilliant series is born. This quirky adaptation allows today’s audience to relate to it’s 19th Century characters even more. Societal pressures, gender norms, family feuds and young love. Each topic that Dickinson touches on can easily be translated into the troubles and turmoils of today.
In season 2, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is struggling to navigate her way through the world and hasn’t quite settled on where she wants to be. The main stabling factors in her life have always been both her writing and Sue (Ella Hunt). In Emily’s world, that was all she ever needed. Now, both of those factors are changing. Whilst her love for writing remains the same, she has to decide how far she wants to take it. She’s also having to navigate her new relationship with Sue. The love they have for each other remains, yet they are struggling to find the same intimacy in each other that they once could now Sue is married to Emily’s brother Austin (Adrian Enscoe).
Many historians have debated the true relationship that existed between Sue Gilbert and Emily Dickinson. But through the hundreds of poems that she wrote both for and about her, it’s clear that Sue was the greatest love of Emily’s life. Dickinson doesn’t shy away from this and brings us a beautiful queer romance full of poetic yearning.
Following Sue’s marriage to Austin, the newlyweds are now living next door to the Dickinson household. Sue’s life has drastically transformed into one full of parties and glamour. Whilst Emily and Sue are close in proximity to one another, at the beginning of the season they are personally in very different places.
Emily is battling her own inner conflicts. Does she remain anonymous with her poems, or become a published author? This decision is one which has the power to transform both her life and legacy, so it’s not one she wants to jump into lightly.
If it was up to her, she’d likely rather her only audience be Sue. She knows her father disagrees and is scared of taking that leap. Sue however wants the world to know the name Emily Dickinson. Wanting to push her in the direction she knows is destined for her, she introducers Emily to a publisher called Sam Bowles.
When asked by Sam how she wants to be remembered, Emily replies “fame is a fickle food”. She does not yearn to be known and fears the possibility of being published. But writing is who she is. Emily is so intertwined into her poetry that she truly becomes one with her words. It’s clear that she wants her poems out there, but just like anyone her age, deciding where she wants her life to go is terrifying. But can Sam help her to build a legacy? Well, the remainder of the series will tell.
Only the first 3 episodes of Dickinson are available on Apple TV currently, but if they are anything to go by, it’s clear this season is to be a triumph.