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10 Reasons You Should Watch “Dickinson”

Whether you’re watching a series now or need a new one to binge, “Dickinson” is your answer. “Dickinson” is a comedy-drama series that tells the life of poet Emily Dickinson as she uses her poems to get through life while teaching others about the restraint on gender, society and family during the 19th century. Below are some reasons you *need* to watch the show even if you don’t think you do.

Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson is a MOOD

While the time period may be the 19th century, Hailee Steinfeld portrays Emily Dickinson as someone we can all relate to despite the time period gap. Dickinson was considered eccentric during this time period so it’s only nature of Steinfeld to get her freak on as she plays Dickinson. From realizing she gets her period at a party to making witty remarks, Steinfeld as Dickinson is whom we respect as an independent woman during her time.

Costume Design *mwah!*

Considering the show takes place in the 19th century, it’s only nature the costume design needs to fit that era. The costume design in “Dickinson” is flawless and even sometimes accurate. During the first episode of the show, Steinfeld wears a white dress, which was historically accurate since Dickinson wore white dresses so often she was referred to as ‘the woman in white.’ In every scene, from a party or even just a casual walk in the town, the costume designer of “Dickinson” slayed it!

Includes the LGBTQ+ Community

There has been much controversy about the sexuality of the real Dickinson since historians have noted she seems to have mentioned the name Susan in many of her poems. Despite the hypotheses of what actually happened in the past, this didn’t stop Alena Smith, the creator of “Dickinson,” from including it into the show. Besides navigating Dickinson’s life in a time where women had no rights, much less freedom to do anything, “Dickinson” includes Sue Gilbert played by Ella Hunt as Emily’s lover. The inclusion of Gilbert in the show allows the LGBTQ+ community to be represented in this clash-of-time-periods television series. Not to give away too many spoilers but let’s just say Gilbert isn’t the only character in “Dickinson” who is part of the LGBTQ+ community (*wink*).

Dramatizes the Life of Emily Dickinson

Regarded as one of the most famous poets in American poetry, Dickinson was a prominent figure in literature. “Dickinson” dramatizes the life of Dickinson, whose life historians have been trying to piece together for centuries. While much is unknown about her life, “Dickinson” does a great job in making her life exciting even within the first few episodes like when Dickinson and Gilbert decide to sneak out to attend a lecture on volcanoes despite women not being allowed to attend. While this was probably unlikely in Dickinson’s real life, it still makes the show exciting as well as adds bits of drama into it.

Uniquely Crafted Episodes

Not only is the show as a whole a masterpiece to watch, but also each episode is personalized to fit a work of Dickinson. Instead of the standard first episode being titled “Pilot,” the first episode, and other episodes after it, follow the first line of one of Dickinson’s poems like her famous, “Because I could not stop for Death” poem.Each episode of “Dickinson” is fit to follow one of Dickinson’s poems to use it as a plotline for that episode, making each episode a delight to watch. Not to mention, the audience sees what occurs in Dickinson’s life in order for her to create the poem for that episode.

Classic Literature References Infused into the Story

Given Dickinson is a poet, it’s only natural for literature to be included in the show. From Dickinson’s Shakespeare Club to riding in Death’s carriage with the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe, “Dickinson” has made many references to American literature. Around Christmas time, the character of Louisa Alcott (Zosia Mamet) makes an appearance and mentions the idea of having her next book involve three sisters, which is a nod to Alcott’s novel, “Little Women.”

Contemporary Meets 19th Century

Let’s be honest. In the 21st century, some of the best television series or movies are when two centuries clash. In “Dickinson,” the contemporary century comes in the form of music artist choices such as Lizzo, Billie Eilish and A$AP Rocky. Thanks to costume/set design, as well as the constrictions placed on women when the TV show takes place, the 19th century is introduced.

Empowering Messages to the Audience

If you need a show to have a good plot line as well as message, look no further. While “Dickinson” revolves around the life of Dickinson and her poetry, many characters offer powerful messages to its audience. One example is Lavinia Dickinson, played by Anna Baryshnikov, who at the start of the show was a cookie-cutter woman in this time period who wanted nothing more than a husband to please. However, realizing she is more than an obedient housewife, Lavinia Dickinson’s character tells the TV show’s audience that it’s okay to break from the norms and be your unique self.

Involves Accurate Pieces of History

While some pieces of the show are highly dramatized for entertainment’s sake, there are some accurate pieces of history involved in “Dickinson.” In one episode, it’s discovered an architect who’s constructing a new landscape, what will be known as Central Park in the future, will be in charge of building Amherst’s Park Common. Not to mention, one of the main plot lines for an episode includes how the construction of the Amherst and Belchertown Railroad will destroy Dickinson’s favorite tree. Both of these events are accurate pieces of history.

Award-winning Actors are Included

Every great television series needs amazing actors behind it to make the show possible. This includes the cast of “Dickinson.” Whether it’s from Academy Award nominees to winning “Best Actress in a Musical,” the cast of “Dickinson” is filled with award-winning and well-known actors. Some of the most notable actors in the show include Jane Krakowski, who plays Emily Norcross Dickinson, Wiz Khalifa, who portrays Death and Hailee Steinfeld who plays Dickinson.

Hopefully, one of these reasons should spark your interest to either watch “Dickinson” or at least see a trailer. Happy watching!

Sabrina Blandon is an English Children's and Young Adult Literature major with a minor in journalism. In addition to Her Campus, she is a staff writer for the Chronicle, the student-run newspaper at Hofstra. She's also secretary of the Hofstra English Society. She's consumes books like they're oxygen and annotates fairly well.
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