“Dickinson” Show

Sophia Dewael, MVCurrent Writer

The television show “Dickinson,” is available on Apple TV+. It stars Hailee Steinfeld and takes place in the 1850’s, covering the life of the famous American poet Emily Dickinson. Even though it takes place in the past, the series is nowhere near a period piece. Besides the fact that many parts are inaccurate, it also is modernized to resemble current teen shows. It includes modern dialect, songs, and humor, but has a historical plot, setting, and characters. 


The show focuses on Emily as she goes through her late teen years as she conflicts with her love of poetry and society’s disapproval of women writers. In the show, there is a plotline of her struggle of choosing whether she wants to publish, when historically she barely published, and the ones that were published were under a false name. While I think it is slightly hurtful to disregard the hardship of being a female poet during the time, it is great to see Dickinson portrayed as such a strong and capable figure.


Another great part of this show is the themes that are presented. Throughout the episodes, gender roles, sexism, racism, and the patriarchy are confronted. Rights for women at the time were very limited; there was very little they could actually do by themselves and throughout the show Emily Dickinson’s character spoke up on this matter many times. The show also takes place on the brink of the Civil War, so slavery was a political topic of the time and is brought up often throughout the show. 


One of my favorite parts of the show is that each episode focuses on a different poem that Emily Dickinson wrote during her lifetime. Most of the time her character constructs the poem bit by bit throughout the course of the episode and it resembles the conflict that was presented in the episode. There are currently 20 episodes and they have barely delved into the large mass of poems that Dickinson wrote during her lifetime, which is estimated to be nearly 1800 poems. I knew a few of her poems before watching the series, but have never thought about their meanings as deeply or clearly than I was able to because of the show.


Overall, I really loved the show. Its biggest flaw, in my opinion, is the occasional historical inaccuracy. However, the creators got so many aspects accurate and even shed light on some aspects that are usually hidden in history. It was great to learn more about her life, but that is not why I kept watching. I kept watching because it was riveting and interesting. It has all the aspects of teen dramas, while also having its own unique features that set it apart.