Apple TV’S Emily DICKINSON Series Promises a Queer Meta Take on Period Pieces

Little is known about Apple TV+, the massive corporation’s streamer set to hit screens this fall, but as we get ever closer to the launch, we’re learning more about the programming the new platform will be home to. Today, we got another new trailer, this time for Dickinson, the Hailee Steinfeld-starred Emily Dickinson series which looks like anything but your average period piece.

Though Dickinson is best known for being not only a celebrated American poet but also a reclusive shut-in, this version of her life centers on her youth and her much-theorized-about sexuality. Over the past couple of decades, Dickinson scholars and academics have argued that instead of the lonely, eccentric spinster picture that was crafted of the writer, she was instead completely in love with her next-door neighbor and eventual sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. Based on her extensive letters to Susan—as well as erasures by her early editor to make the two seem as if they were not close—it is now widely believed that Susan was Dickinson’s confidante, muse, and perhaps something more. It looks like something that the show is excited to explore with much of the trailer focusing on Emily and a mysterious woman, who she is writing extensive letters to and poetry for.

Taking style notes from unconventional pop-period pieces like Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge, and Amazon’s recent Picnic at Hanging Rock miniseries, the trailer showcases a punk-rock take on the period drama, with modern music and lots of very unladylike behavior. It’s an interesting choice to essentially rewrite the history of a woman who has so long been defined by an outdated historical idea of herself, and it will—like most contemporary takes on the period drama—likely split fans of the writer and the genre down the middle. Like all the other announced Apple TV+ shows so far, this one will hit screens “This Fall,” so keep your ears to the ground for a proper release date coming soon.

Header image: Apple 

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