Iconic scenes within the show that reclaimed our sapphic literary hero


Over the last three years, Dickinson has filled our queer hearts with joy. The style of the show makes the 19th century events #relatable to its 21st century audience. It also perfectly portrays how ahead of her time literary hero Emily Dickinson was. Not only for her unique writing style and world views, but also her undying love for Sue, which history loves to erase. 

This year, the show aired its third and final season, leaving a Dickinson sized gap in my life. To soothe myself, I thought I’d look back on some of the show’s many fantastic moments.

Spoilers ahead.

Emily’s imagination

Dickinson does a fabulous job in portraying Emily’s creative mind. Ahead of her time in every way, she often turns to her thoughts to escape. Her fascination with dying resorts in scenes where she has existential conversations with Death himself, played by Wiz Khalifa. Of course some of the most magical daydream sequences are those featuring the complicated relationship with her long-term lover turned sister-in-law Sue.


The fight for civil rights

Dickinson does what many shows set in the time period shy away from. It makes a commentary on race. Betty and her husband George are central to the plot. Whilst they face many challenges, there is still room for Black joy, Black love and telling it how it is. Throughout the first and second season much of the cast discuss race and abolition. Tensions build and by the final season The Civil War breaks out. Season three shines a light on the role Black people played within the war and many of the injustices, such as being sent to battle without weapons.


Emily meeting other literary icons

Throughout the seasons Emily gets the chance to interact with a variety of famous writers. My personal favourites are when she meets Louisa May Alcott who has the “absurd” idea to go for a run, but also inspires Emily as a published female author. In one of her fantasy sequences Emily time travels to the future and meets Sylvia Plath.


Dealing with men

Throughout the series Emily has to find creative and amusing ways to dismiss the attraction of men. From her good friend George who repeatedly asks for her hand in marriage to her Dad’s creepy older friend.


Sex positivity

At first I wasn’t too invested in Emily’s sister Lavinia. She seemed rather flat and spent most of her time aspiring to be a dutiful housewife. Whilst her desire remains the same in later seasons, she also wants to have an adventurous sex life and challenging intellectual debates with her future husband.


What could have been

When Sue gives birth to Emily’s nephew, it is a bittersweet moment. The two forbidden lovers have gone through so many highs and lows together. This scene makes viewers think what could have been for these characters if they were born in a different time. Would they have had their own rainbow family? I like to think so.


Dickinson is available to stream on Apple+ TV


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