If Wiz Khalifa is playing Death, who rides around in a carriage drawn by ghost horses, it’s a genre show. No, I don’t make the rules. And maybe it’s time to stop sleeping on Dickinson, the cheerfully anachronistic Apple TV+ series about Emily Dickinson. Hailee Steinfeld stars as the poet; Jane Krakowski is Mrs. Dickinson; and the guest stars (John Mulaney, Zosia Mamet, Jason Mantzoukas) are inspired.
And now they’ve added another to the guest star roster: Nick Kroll as the extremely rude and rather horny ghost of Edgar Allan Poe.
Before season two began in January, Dickinson showrunner Alena Smith told Entertainment Weekly:
“We are doing more complicated things with surrealism, so the uncanny line between where does Emily’s imagination stop and the world begin becomes more and more blurred. That’s just honestly the truth of the character and what it feels like to be this woman. The external realities of her circumstances were pretty mundane and constricted, and yet, within those she was having the wildest, internal imaginative experiences that anyone could imagine.”
The show takes its basic cues from the poet’s biography, but expands it well beyond what’s commonly known about Emily Dickinson. And if exploring the wider, more surreal version of her life involves horny ghost poets, queer relationships, Death as an extremely appealing person, wild house parties, John Mulaney as a bitchy shirtless Thoreau, and fury at a misogynistic world? All the more reason to start watching.
Or, as Emily Hughes put it in a piece for Electric Literature, “This show, my friends, absolutely fucks.”