Fact Check: What "Dickinson" Gets Right (and Wrong) About the Iconic Poet

Photo Courtesy: Apple TV+/IMDb

With scenes set to the tunes of Lizzo, Mitski and billie eilish, there’s no doubt that Apple TV+’s teen period-piece comedy, Dickinson, is anachronistic — and every bit as irreverent as its protagonist, a young Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld). For both comedic effect and to get at the heart of Emily’s history, Dickinson swings big: The fledgling poet throws house parties full of both 19th-century dancing and twerking; hallucinates a talking bee (Jason Mantzoukas) after taking recreational opium; courts her brother’s (Adrian Blake Enscoe) fiancée, Susan "Sue" Gilbert (Ella Hunt); and actively fights against the gender norms of her time. Not to mention, one of her closest confidantes is the personification of Death (Wiz Khalifa).

All of this to say, the show isn’t meant to be a painstaking biography of the famed poet from Amherst, a la the Cynthia Nixon-helmed drama A Quiet Passion (2016). But it’s also evident that the show’s creator, Alena Smith, did quite a bit of research. The end product? A witty coming-of-age series that reinvents Emily for modern audiences, that thoughtfully blends scholarship with more modern sensibilities. "Everyone’s free to invent their own Emily Dickinson," Smith told Vulture, "and this is mine." With that in mind, we’re diving into what the series gets right — and what it completely invents — just ahead of the premiere of Dickinson’s sophomore season.