Preview: Apple TV+’s ‘Dickinson’ Offers Fresh Take On The Poet

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 17: Ella Hunt, Jane Krakowski, Anna Baryshnikov, Alena Smith, Adrian Blake Enscoe, Hailee Steinfeld and Toby Huss attend Apple's Global Premiere for "Dickinson" on October 17, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York. "Dickinson" debuts on Apple TV+, the first all-original video subscription service, on November 1. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Apple TV+)

“Dickinson” Global Premiere Red Carpet, Brooklyn: One thing the team behind Apple TV+ series “Dickinson” wants to make perfectly clear is this is not your typical period piece. Cast aside all previous perceptions of Emily Dickinson you may have gathered in literature class. This is a fresh approach to the subject of poetry and coming-of-age stories, in general. Viewers will get to experience the moments of her life that inspired her poetic words.

During the “Dickinson” premiere red carpet at St. Anne’s Warehouse, the series’ cast, and creators spoke about to us about what to expect from the show. Although based in the 1800s this comedy (yes, comedy) includes many elements of today’s world. The show uses modern dialogue, visual effects, and a soundtrack including original music Hailee Steinfeld. As a result, the series looks like an inventive, lively spin on the poet’s life with a strong contemporary vibe.

The show strives to present a more relatable version of Emily (Steinfeld) than people would tend to expect. Hence, the inventive show appeals to a wider audience. Emily is young, free-thinking and rebellious. These traits are found threatening to many during the period in which the series takes place. She pushes back on the demands of society and her conservative parents (Jane Krakowski, Toby Huss) through poetry. Her persistence and willingness to go against social norms make her the perfect role model for today’s world.

FIND INSPIRATION

Alena Smith and Hailee Steinfeld attend Apple’s Global Premiere for “Dickinson.”  (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Apple TV+)

“A lot of it was inspired by Emily’s poems. Her poems are filled with rich ironies. A lot of the time she is actually satirizing the world around her,” explained creator and showrunner, Alena Smith. “She is also talking about the biggest subjects in the world, death, love, the impermanence of things. She really was an existentialist way ahead of her time. We’re trying to present an enigmatic version of her that reflects the spirit of rebellion and mystery we find in her poetry.”

Series star, Hailee Steinfeld (Emily), feels the show will open Emily Dickinson’s world to a wide-ranging audience. “Emily Dickinson was so misunderstood in her own time. Our show asks that question, ‘can we understand her in ours?’ With that alone, it has a very modern sense of thinking. What I hope people will feel when watching this show is that they forget it is a period piece. Because it feels so modern in so many ways… in some heartbreaking ways, in some exciting ways. I hope that, much like myself, that a young audience can see this and appreciate her work and her fearlessness.”

STYLE ALL ITS OWN

The show injects fantasy and dreamlike elements throughout the storytelling. By avoiding the straight forward approach, the show has a feel all its own. As Emily’s life inspire her, we see her poems display across the screen as they form in her mind. “The style of the show is a marriage between the historical facts of Emily Dickinson’s life and also the themes and the surrealist themes inside her poetry where she would personify death, for instance, or have a conversation with a bee,” explained Adrien Blake Enscoe (who plays Austin, Emily’s brother).

Adrian Blake Enscoe attends Apple’s Global Premiere for “Dickinson” (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Apple TV+)

“These kinds of things are taken as realism in the show. So it gets a little surreal when Emily is suddenly in a carriage talking to Death, played by Wiz Khalifa. That’s what attracted me to the show. It’s not strictly a biopic of Emily Dickinson. It’s trying to get even more to the core of who she was as a person and make it applicable to right now. It is constantly in dialogue with our 21st-century issues, thought, and feelings.”

THE RIGHT PARTNER MATTERS

Alena Smith finds partnering with Apple is a natural for her ambitious series. “This show was made in a way that is different from the way that traditional TV gets made. It was made in certain ways like a five-hour movie in ten chapters. Making it for a brand new streaming platform just supported that vision and we were able to work very holistically.”

All ten episodes of “Dickinson” will premiere at the launch new Apple TV+ streaming service on November 1st.

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