Dickinson: "Because I could not stop" and the rest of them
February 14, 2022 2:17 PM - Season 1 (Full Season) - Subscribe

Starring Hailee Steinfeld as the poet Emily Dickinson, along with beautiful sets and costumes. The show explores society, gender, sexuality, and politics by taking a modern spin on coming of age in Amherst in the 1850s. Guest staring just about everyone.
posted by autopilot (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I started watching it back in 2019 when it first aired, although for some reason never made it past the first episode. Returning to it now I'm really enjoying the ahistorical anachronisms -- it's like the producer/writer Alena Smith watched Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette and said "hold my crumpet". The modern musical choices are astoundingly appropriate and the modern language elevates the jokes in a frequently double-entendre way.

Among the many guests stars, Wiz Khalifa stands out as Death in his fancy carriage with his ghostly horses, and Jon Mulaney as the poet Thoreau totally sells the "jerk in a cabin whose mother brings him sandwiches".
posted by autopilot at 2:38 PM on February 14, 2022 [2 favorites]

I watched all three seasons, and enjoyed them. It is a challenge to use a fictionalized bio series to drive laughs and also address some contemporary issues. It mostly worked, though some characters were pushed into inconsistencies to drive historical reference/plot/humor/commentary. I think it speaks to the high bar of contemporary television that this show seems destined to be a minor cult classic at most.
posted by snofoam at 5:20 PM on February 14, 2022

I didn't realise there was a third season, and am going to watch it immediately.

I watched the first two seasons a while ago and really enjoyed them, despite the anachronisms and inconsistencies which (on paper) would usually annoy me. I guess that's because it was so clear that they were deliberate once the stories started taking a more surrealist turn.
posted by confluency at 4:32 AM on February 15, 2022

I have Apple TV+ and I have never even heard of this. These streaming channels do a terrible job at promoting their content. Or at even describing the content. Everything is a bland thumbnail and my eyes glaze over looking at their home screens/pages. This sounds at least interestingly different. Thanks for pointing it out.
posted by SoberHighland at 9:36 AM on February 16, 2022

Anachronisms done for the larfs are great! Anachronisms done for inclusion and representation are good when they're handled with care, but can seem exploitive when done carelessly. For instance, I didn't love the way Anne (or Anne with an E) veered off into the main character (and her boyfriend in waiting) heroically saving indigenous and Black characters who were being racismed against by the rest of Canada. And I was confused by Murdoch Mysteries early foregrounding of prejudice against Catholics while simultaneously showing how modern and liberated all the women in the show were (unless the plot needed to show how hard it was for them instead). Of course all the gadgets Murdoch was making were ridiculously anachronistic, and the show got a lot better once it started leaning into the comedy and treating its own premise without the gravity it seemed to start with.
posted by rikschell at 5:29 AM on February 19, 2022

We just finished all three seasons; not sure there is enough discourse to do additional season posts, so...

Something that I wish the show included were popups or subtitles or a commentary track that indicated when something was historically accurate or discussed the historical liberties they were taking. I frequently paused to lookup on wikipedia "did they really know that person?" or "did that really happen?". One of the tv series series that we watch for language learning include "ECHT WAAR!" signs when something seems unbelievable but is actually true, such as this one on the space race that lists the various animals the Soviets launched, which is helpful to separate out what's humorous or magic realism from what's actually real.

Like snofoam pointed out, how much of the inconsistencies in the various characters were plot-driven? For instance, the entire scene with Higginson showing unannounced and being kept waiting might be fabricated? According to wikipedia, they met twice at her home at her request. And did she give all of her poems to Bowles for publication and then take them back later (possibly with the help of Maggie)? I can't find any details about that, although he reportedly did receive around forty of her poems and they eventually reconciled after a long breach.

It's a shame the show does seem destined for cult status, although I'm glad to be one of the lucky few who saw it!
posted by autopilot at 11:29 AM on February 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

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