Dickinson premieres November 1 on Apple TV+.
By Chris Flanagan
Contrary to how reviews typically go, I figured I would spare you the suspense and begin with what I thought of Dickinson…
I did not like it.
It was painfully apparent that the show’s target audience is Millenials that place more value in the use of an Instagram filter instead of the quality of the content it’s being used on. But I digress… Dickinson tries to be kitschy and overly-hip, using modern music and dialogue juxtaposed to the Victorian era but the result seems shallow and contrived despite its extensive production value. Apple clearly doesn’t mind throwing money at the series that will serve as the flagship shows meant to entice viewers into adopting their streaming service which in most cases is a wonderful problem for a production to have, however, unlike most of those Dickinson lacks substance, or at least it did in the episodes made available, that offer little hope for the show to grow into something substantial.
I was surprised at just how badly the show missed its mark given the previously mentioned focus on period aesthetics and a strong cast featuring a perfectly placed Hailee Steinfield but seems to miss on certain casting decisions such as Jane Krakowski, who seems unable to escape from her 30 Rock persona, as Emily’s mother or Wiz Khalifa as Death(Yes, you read that correctly). Toby Huss, Emily’s father, is a fun addition but is merely a role player against Steinfield’s energy.
Somewhere underneath Dickinson’s shallow veneer, there lies the small embers of something that could potentially grow into more than the sum of its current parts, however, in the first episodes it is apparent that it is in no rush to evolve. Of course, for original programming, there is an unspoken grace period for development but Dickinson seems unmoved by such notions and appears content to just be. I found this to be frustrating as there are far better shows putting forth more of an effort that is worth your time. If you are remotely interested in the information that has been released about Dickinson, I urge you to give it at least several episodes. For me, it did little to separate itself from the vast choices across the television landscape, but again, I am fully aware that I was not its target audience. Be that as it may, Dickinson could have executed its truly unique vision in a better way but fell short.
I give Dickinson a C-.