’Tis the season for digging up and desecrating Emily Dickinson. First came last year’s Wild Nights with Emily, a flimsy film starring Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon, which the Washington Post said threatened “to reduce the writer’s life to the punchline of a literary version of Rodney Dangerfield.” Now the perpetrator is Apple TV’s 10 half-hour episodes of its strange new series, Dickinson.
Hailee Steinfeld, an executive producer of Dickinson, plays the lead role of the poet in her mid-twenties. Steinfeld physically resembles Dickinson, but there any resemblance ends. Dickinson is not so much a bloated biopic as a fictional reimagining of its subject as a woke millennial rebel; it is more in the vein of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter than the acclaimed biopics about Johnny Cash, Elton John, and Freddy Mercury.