Dickinson (TV show)

March 12, 2021

I watched both seasons of “Dickinson,” the anachronistic and surreal Apple TV show about Emily Dickinson. It’s wildly uneven, by turns brilliant and awkwardly heavy handed. It’s one of those period shows where someone starts coughing in one episode and dies in the next. Hailee Steinfeld is great in it. It’s got some interesting things to say about being an artist, and how one gets emotional support as an artist.

But I judge everything Emily Dickinson-related by whether it mentions Carlo, Emily’s big Newfoundland dog who was her beloved companion for her entire young adulthood. The very good film from a couple years ago, “Wild Nights with Emily,” gets a pass because it takes place after Carlo died.

This show, which takes place exactly during the time when Carlo was in his prime, makes no mention of Carlo. It seems like a big missed opportunity, given all the other weird imaginative stuff that happens in the show. I can picture this big lunk of a dog offering Emily advice and saying “I told you so” when she doesn’t take it.

There are entire biographies of Emily Dickinson that barely mention Carlo, and I don’t understand why not. He was important. The time in her life when Dickinson became reclusive coincides with Carlo’s death. Dog people understand this, how having a dog at your side can make you brave and adventuresome when you might not be otherwise, and what a blow losing that can be. I wonder if there aren’t enough dog people studying Dickinson. Dickinson scholars are cat people, and so they don’t understand.

Here’s the story I wrote about Emily and Carlo, that I don’t think I’ll be able to read now that my own dog Lily is gone.


3 Responses to “Dickinson (TV show)”

  1. Jo Anne Says:

    It is a wonderful story!

  2. Toni Ware Says:

    Wow, I felt that…
    So many words… none good enough…

    wow. ❤

  3. Wynn Says:


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