Imagine if pioneering, 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson had been a character on a CW series.
That’s the premise of Apple TV’s original show “Dickinson,” a harmless yet completely absurd take on the Belle of Amherst (1830-1856), whose enigmatic poetry addressed cosmic subjects with deceptive simplicity.
In an effort not to alienate the show’s target audience, the producers have decided to portray Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) as a rebel who doesn’t want to do housework or be married off to the nearest suitor so she can think.
Dickinson is also shown writing classic poems decades before she actually wrote them. For example “Because I could not stop for Death” was written in 1862, when the poet was 32, not when she was 16. That’s called cheating.
The writers make their most bone-headed error by having characters ride up to the Dickinson home on horseback and utter this greeting: “What up, sis?” If they’re so afraid contemporary audiences won’t watch a show where the characters are dressed in period-era costumes and living without smartphones, why bother creating a show about someone they have probably never read?
On the other hand, if “Dickinson” convinces a few people to actually read some of her poetry, then we can’t complain — too much.