You know that feeling when something sounds almost great, but one element is a little off? Variety announced today that Apple (yay, another streaming service to keep up with) has ordered a comedic half-hour series about Emily Dickinson starring Hailee Steinfeld. According to the report, Dickinson is “a comedic look into Dickinson’s world, exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit into her own time through her imaginative point of view.”
Ok, let’s break this down. There is a lot to like here. Steinfeld is easily one of most underrated actresses of her generation (I ride hard for The Edge of Seventeen, y’all) and proved that she can handle period pieces with her Oscar-nominated performance in True Grit. I am always down for a female-fronted comedy, but I would describe some of Dickinson’s poetry as gently humorous but doesn’t really scream “comedy with a modern sensibility,” but crazier things have worked. When done properly, period settings and comedy can go hand and hand (treat yourself to a hilarious rabbit hole to fall down with Kate Beaton’s incredible webcomic Hark! A Vagrant).
That being said, Dickinson had a very rich inner life, but outwardly, she was a death-obsessed, deeply religious recluse. That’s not to say that she didn’t chafe against societal expectations, but it would be a let down to see her transformed into a sassy protagonist spouting empowerment adages in between writing her complex works on love, passion, and loneliness. I don’t know. Maybe Dickinson will surprise me.