'Dickinson': With some hits and misses, the fictional retelling of poet Emily Dickinson's story is worth a watch
Apple TV premiered three of its most anticipated fictional TV shows on November 1, and Hailee Steinfield-starrer 'Dickinson' is one of them. It is one of their most ambitious projects with regard to its essence and there certainly are moments where it falls tragically short of its goals, and yet you cannot help but admire the show for its ambitions.
'Dickinson' is a fictional retelling of American poet Emily Dickinson's origin story, and it is evident from the very beginning that many artistic licenses have been taken to rewrite her story. In this version, Dickinson (Steinfield) is an irreverent young woman who recognizes that her society is flawed and that women deserve more respect and that she is in love with a woman. Despite being raised in a strict, popular household, she dares to do what she wants to, occasionally with the help of her best friend/lover/brother's fiance, Sue (Ella Hunt) or another close friend and a man who is in love with her, George (Samuel Farnsworth).
The show has some amazing elements from some of the funniest shows, including Comedy Central's 'Drunk History' and 'Another Period.' The issue with this, however, is that both of these shows are created to be ridiculously silly and funny throughout. Meanwhile 'Dickinson' despite being a comedy, oscillates between funny and poignant. In many instances we are unable to grasp what is meant to be comedic and what is meant to be an actual serious conversation.
Jane Krakowski 's Mrs. Dickinson, for example, comes across more like a caricature that the actress' character Jenna does on '30 Rock' than the wholeheartedly shrill and controlling mother who took pride in being a great wife. Her husband, played by Toby Huss also shares a similar fate on the series. Stanfield's acting, meanwhile, is reminiscent of her role in the coming-of-age movie 'The Edge of Seventeen', wherein the actress plays a teenager who rejects everyone's expectation of the teenage life. It is a fitting revamping of that role, but if you were to remove all the period pieces and modernize her wardrobe you would feel like you are watching the same person. But the charm and depth she brings to the character seep through in this project.
The standout performance in the series was delivered by Wiz Khalifa, who portrayed a suave, sleek and sexy Death. Throughout the series, we see Dickinson interacting with Death as if it were a person, and also that she has a perpetual habit of romanticizing death.
The show tries to be too many things, and when it returns with Season 2 we sure hope it's identity crisis is averted. Meanwhile, you can watch all of 'Dickinson' Season 2 on Apple TV right now.