This was a poet

Published March 27, 2022

A still image from Dickinson series 3, episode 10 showing Hailee Steinfeld (Emily Dickinson) and Wiz Khalifa (Death) dancing in a springtime garden

I just finished the final episode of Dickinson and wanted to celebrate what a wonderful show this has been. I wrote about it after the first season, highlighting the specific creative choices that make it a brilliant period piece (the music, the modern moments, the way the poetry weaves in and out of the narrative) and that has only continued on through the next two series. It makes sense that this show was always going to have a a relatively short run given the life they are documenting, but I’m still super sad that there will be no more Dickinson in our lives.

Of all the things I love about the show though, it’s the characters that really bring it to life and give it a special place in my heart. Emily herself is a wonder, and her immediate family bring their own quirky energy - from the rollercoaster emotions of her mother, to the stubborn but gradually evolving father, to the lonely but independent sister, and of course the wayward brother married to the girl Emily loves. All of them are integral to the piece and add their own special thing to the whole.

And then there are the extended friends and family - the neighbour making dresses and missing her husband away at war, the group of friends who seem to endlessly party in slow-motion, and the occasional appearance of Death in his horse and carriage. Also all brilliant.

Although I’ve loved every second of the show and will miss it, I do think it has ended at the right time. The third series felt like they were slightly stretching for content - a couple too many dream sequences for my tastes - and it would be very hard to keep hanging on the family’s every word against the backdrop of a brutal civil war. It was all very well handled though, leaving the show on exactly the right note - a dreamer, dreaming, not knowing that her legacy would live on.

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