Apple TV+ 'Dickinson' not shying away from sex in NYC premiere

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited September 15
Stars Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski alongside creator Alena Smith introduced the new Apple TV+ series "Dickinson," in New York City on Saturday night, and AppleInsider was there.

The Dickinson panel: Moderator Hillary Kelly, creator Alena Smith, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski
The Dickinson panel: Moderator Hillary Kelly, creator Alena Smith, and actresses Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski


The Apple TV+ era officially kicked off Saturday night at a Lower Manhattan movie theater, with the first public screening of an Apple TV+ original series. The first episode of Dickinson, the Apple streaming service's modern-day take on the early life of the 19th-century poet Emily Dickinson, premiered Saturday night at the Regal Battery Park theater, as part of the Tribeca TV Festival.

The series, which has the look of a costume drama but also offers quite a bit of comedy, was well-received by an audience in a very-nearly full theater. There was applause at the end, albeit not a standing ovation, for the 30-minute episode.

The conceit of the show, which received a straight-to-series order from Apple back in May of 2018, is that it's set in Emily Dickinson's actual time, and follows the lines of her actual life. The difference is, the characters speak in modern language, and the show also features contemporary pop music.

Two stars of the show, Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski, were on hand for a post-screening panel, as was the show's creator and showrunner, Alena Smith.

There's a song by pop star Billie Eilish in the first episode, and rapper Wiz Khalifa shows up as a version of the Grim Reaper. Smith, the creator, called it "our crazy psychedelic version of the 1850s."

"If Emily wasn't understood in her own time, maybe we can understand her in ours," Smith said on the panel, about the show's main idea. Dickinson, famously, did not become a well-known poet until after her death, in 1886.

"The reason why Dickinson was the right figure to use for a crazy world like this again, is that she broke all the rules of her time, sort of in secret," the show-runner added. "Her life was boring. Like, not a lot happened the action was up here [in her head]."

An imagine from the Dickinson trailer


Steinfeld, who starred in the Coen Brothers' True Grit, the second and third Pitch Perfect movies, and the indie hit Edge of Seventeen, plays Dickinson. 30 Rock veteran Jane Krakowski co-stars as her mother, also named Emily. Veteran character actor Toby Huss plays Emily's father, putting on a New England patrician accent when he nearly always plays Southern characters.

There will also be guest stars on some episodes, most of them playing historical figures. Comedian John Mulaney, who made a memorable joke about Emily Dickinson in one of his stand-up specials, will portray Henry David Thoreau.

Steinfeld is among the executive producers of the show, as are Smith and veteran Hollywood and TV director David Gordon Green, who directed the first episode.

The star said on the panel that the script was "unlike anything I've ever read, as a whole this was a character that was written in a way that I've never seen," Steinfeld said. "That Alena was able to take what we do know and also sort of explore the imagination of what this person who wrote these incredible things might be, and show that in a show overall, it's so different, and so wonderful."

Smith got her start as a playwright, and has been a writer on TV series such as The Newsroom and The Affair.

Sex and portraits

In the opening credits, Dickinson is referred to as "An Apple original," although there's no new Apple logo or production company graphic.

It's often been discussed, in the run-up to the launch of Apple's streaming service, that the company was seeking to downplay risque language and sexuality in its original shows. However, the first episode of Dickinson includes both a memorable curse word and a brief scene of a sexual encounter.

It's also clear that the show won't be shying away from the belief among most historians that Dickinson had a long-running same-sex romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. A theatrical movie released earlier this year, Wild Nights With Emily, was primarily about that relationship.

Additionally, Smith said that a future episode of Dickinson will deal with the painting of a portrait, in a plotline meant to echo modern-day controversies about nude selfies.

While the actresses spoke a lot about the difficulty of wearing corsets on the set, Krakowski did specifically thank Apple for being generous with its costume budget for the show.

A new song

Steinfeld, who is also a pop singer, announced on the panel that she has recorded a new original song for the show, called "Afterlife," which will arrive on Thursday, Sept. 19. The singer said that this is her return to music after a hiatus of a couple of years.

"For me, what's really special, is working on this with Apple, and Apple Music," Steinfeld said. She called the new tune "a song that I am incredibly proud of, and I feel that after embodying this character I have a more fearless approach."

Krakowski added that she had heard the song earlier that day and described it as "awesome."

The screen at the Dickinson premiere
The screen at the Dickinson premiere

Here for Hailee





Quite a few people at the premiere were there as fans of Steinfeld's. It's clear that Apple and the show's producers are counting on her to draw fans to the series when it launches.

Krakowski said she hopes "a generation of young, feisty women" discover and appreciate the show. Smith told a story about how a young girl in Manila recently saw Steinfeld and quoted a line from the trailer of the show -- "I'm nobody- who are you?" -- back to her.

Apple has not announced whether it will be releasing the episodes of its series all at once, the way Netflix does, or if they will come out once a week or in some other configuration. However, Smith said on the panel that she hoped a future episode featuring Louisa May Alcott would coincide with the release of this year's new Little Women film, which is set to arrive at Christmastime.

It is known that Dickinson is one of nine pieces of content that will be available at the launch of Apple TV+. It will join The Morning Show, See, For All Mankind, Ghostwriter, Helpsters, Snoopy in Space, the documentary The Elephant Queen and Oprah Winfrey's untitled new TV series.

When the Apple TV+ service debuts, it will cost users $4.99 per month. Purchasers of a new Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac will get one year of the service for free. Apple TV+ content can be watched across an entire family, with Apple's Family Sharing feature.
15ngcs1
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    The star said on the panel that the script was "unlike anything I've ever read, as a whole this was a character that was written in a way that I've never seen," Steinfeld said. "That Alena was able to take what we do know and also sort of explore the imagination of what this person who wrote these incredible things might be, and show that in a show overall, it's so different, and so wonderful

    So not Emily Dickinson, just some other character with the name in common. A reimagining of a recluse.

    it could be entertaining, but I hate how Hollywood has to outrageously distort historical figures, probably to send a modern message with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. And the worst is some people might think it is biographical. Imagine poor English teachers marking essays for the next few years.

    The reason why Dickinson was the right figure to use for a crazy world like this again, is that she broke all the rules of her time, sort of in secret," the show-runner added. "Her life was boring. Like, not a lot happened the action was up here [in her head]." 
    What a load of pretentious cobblers. They’ve turned her into the Walter Mitty of poetry. 
    edited September 15 razorpitcommand_fbigpicscornchiplkruppcgWerksargonaut
  • Reply 2 of 37
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    Apple should definitely release episodes weekly, even if they initially put up 2 or 3 episodes. Netflix’s approach encourages TV binge watching and I feel that’s not the best way to watch TV. Weekly episodes allows fans of a show to discuss the show and digest the episodes and puts a shorter period of time between one season ending and another beginning—one of the biggest pluses. Netflix’s shows get used up quick and by the time there’s a season two we have forgotten the specifics of season one, which takes from the show and quells interest.
    edited September 15 rogifan_newcommand_fcornchip15ngcs1
  • Reply 3 of 37
    ireland said:
    Apple should definitely release episodes weekly, even if they initially put up 2 or 3 episodes. Netflix’s approach encourages TV binge watching and I feel that’s not the best way to watch TV. Weekly episodes allows fans of a show to discuss the show and digest the episodes and puts a shorter period of time between one season ending and another beginning—one of the biggest pluses. Netflix’s shows get used up quick and by the time there’s a season two we have forgotten the specifics of season one, which takes from the show and quells interest.
    Also if you space out episodes you have people subscribed longer. With Netflix you can binge watch a season in a weekend then cancel right away.
    cornchip15ngcs1
  • Reply 4 of 37
    entropys said:
    The star said on the panel that the script was "unlike anything I've ever read, as a whole this was a character that was written in a way that I've never seen," Steinfeld said. "That Alena was able to take what we do know and also sort of explore the imagination of what this person who wrote these incredible things might be, and show that in a show overall, it's so different, and so wonderful
    So not Emily Dickinson, just some other character with the name in common. A reimagining of a recluse.

    it could be entertaining, but I hate how Hollywood has to outrageously distort historical figures, probably to send a modern message with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. And the worst is some people might think it is biographical. Imagine poor English teachers marking essays for the next few years.
    You could say the same about Augustus, Livia, Claudius, Tiberius, Caligula, etc. Everything we know of them comes from material written 70 years after they died, by people with their own agendas. I, Claudius is an extremely entertaining novel and series, but we can’t mistake it for a history class. Entertainment is entertainment. No one will be grading viewers of this series either. 
    lkruppnetmageCloudTalkinmike1
  • Reply 5 of 37
    taddtadd Posts: 122member
    "It's also clear that the show won't be shying away from the belief among most historians that Dickinson had a long-running same-sex romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. "

    Most historians?  MOST??      I suggest "some"   or "historians who are interested in Dickinson" or something that qualifies this...    Is that contemporary English speaking historians?    Perhaps even naming the historians would be nice.  
    dedgeckocornchipchristophb
  • Reply 6 of 37
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,003administrator
    tadd said:
    "It's also clear that the show won't be shying away from the belief among most historians that Dickinson had a long-running same-sex romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. "

    Most historians?  MOST??      I suggest "some"   or "historians who are interested in Dickinson" or something that qualifies this...    Is that contemporary English speaking historians?    Perhaps even naming the historians would be nice.  
    Feel free do do your own research, and publish it on your own website if you're so inclined.

    Do not take this response as an invitation to continue this line of discussion on the forums here.
    edited September 15 netmagefastasleepbeowulfschmidt15ngcs1
  • Reply 7 of 37
    tadd said:
    "It's also clear that the show won't be shying away from the belief among most historians that Dickinson had a long-running same-sex romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. "

    Most historians?  MOST??      I suggest "some"   or "historians who are interested in Dickinson" or something that qualifies this...    Is that contemporary English speaking historians?    Perhaps even naming the historians would be nice.  
    I suspect that the number of historians who are interested in the sex life of Emily Dickinson is fairly small. And those who are probably approach it with preconceived biases. And who really cares? 
    dedgeckocornchipentropyschristophbnetmageRayz2016rinosaur
  • Reply 8 of 37
    bigpicsbigpics Posts: 1,382member
    What the hell. I'll bite and be interested.

    But then I'm a poet, which is not exactly a prime AI or mass TV audience demographic, and I'm a fan of classic women writers (Dickinson, Jane Austen, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Charlotte Bronte, George Sand [Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin], Virginia Woolf, Mary Shelley, et al.

    And what fans aren't biased in some ways...??

    So yeah, if I get the service (buying new gear soon I hope), this will be probably my first watch.
    lolliver15ngcs1
  • Reply 9 of 37
    Maybe in a year or two, when the Foundation series is available I’ll be more interested. Do the producers of this show believe young people are idiots incapable of relating to historically accurate portrayals of people? Although a work of fiction with a bit of horror-fantasy thrown in, the hit movie “The Witch” showed a fairly historically accurate version of early American settler life, language and beliefs and it managed to be completely engrossing.
  • Reply 10 of 37
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,703member
    So much judging from people who haven’t even seen the series yet. Historical reinterpretation is nothing new. Sophia Coppola had a hit with a movie about Marie Antoinette, Leonardo DiCaprio did a Romeo & Juliet with modern language, and I’ve seen other Shakespeare plays performed with southern US, Canadian, and German accents (and relocated to those places and in different time periods etc). I’m happy to approach this with an open mind. Most of you guys sound very old and close-minded. I’ll let you know if its actually junk, grandads, since you’ve already decided sight unseen.
    tmaynetmagelolliverStrangeDays15ngcs1
  • Reply 11 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,462member
    Maybe in a year or two, when the Foundation series is available I’ll be more interested. Do the producers of this show believe young people are idiots incapable of relating to historically accurate portrayals of people? Although a work of fiction with a bit of horror-fantasy thrown in, the hit movie “The Witch” showed a fairly historically accurate version of early American settler life, language and beliefs and it managed to be completely engrossing.
    All this “I’m not interested” from the peanut gallery accompanied by the usual pre-fail and DOA pronouncements. What will it take to convince the naysayers that they do not represent the public at large. Almost every single one of that group’s predictions never happened, from the iPhone X, to the iPhone XR, to the not-yet-released iPhone 11 Max,  Apple Music,  Arcade,  TV+. Nobody knows what the content will look like, how good or bad it is, how much of it there will be or if there will be a back catalog of movies and TV series to go along with it. The naysayers make assumptions based on their own personal bias and what the rumor mill vomits up. At least I’m willing to wait until I actually experience it to make my opinion known instead of declaring I”ll check back in a couple of years because it will be a failure at first anyway. But hey, let’s make fun of Apple’s apparent decision to produce family oriented content with the attitude of “If I can’t watch explicit sex, nudity, graphic violence then I’m not interested."
    Rayz2016lolliverStrangeDays15ngcs1
  • Reply 12 of 37
    lkrupp said:
    Maybe in a year or two, when the Foundation series is available I’ll be more interested. Do the producers of this show believe young people are idiots incapable of relating to historically accurate portrayals of people? Although a work of fiction with a bit of horror-fantasy thrown in, the hit movie “The Witch” showed a fairly historically accurate version of early American settler life, language and beliefs and it managed to be completely engrossing.
    But hey, let’s make fun of Apple’s apparent decision to produce family oriented content with the attitude of “If I can’t watch explicit sex, nudity, graphic violence then I’m not interested."
    Right. People act like if it isn't at the level of GoT then they aren't interested forgetting that they also enjoyed It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Parks & Rec. It's OK people! You can enjoy multiple kinds of entertainment!!
    edited September 15 lolliver15ngcs1
  • Reply 13 of 37
    lkrupp said:
    Maybe in a year or two, when the Foundation series is available I’ll be more interested. Do the producers of this show believe young people are idiots incapable of relating to historically accurate portrayals of people? Although a work of fiction with a bit of horror-fantasy thrown in, the hit movie “The Witch” showed a fairly historically accurate version of early American settler life, language and beliefs and it managed to be completely engrossing.
    All this “I’m not interested” from the peanut gallery accompanied by the usual pre-fail and DOA pronouncements. What will it take to convince the naysayers that they do not represent the public at large. Almost every single one of that group’s predictions never happened, from the iPhone X, to the iPhone XR, to the not-yet-released iPhone 11 Max,  Apple Music,  Arcade,  TV+. Nobody knows what the content will look like, how good or bad it is, how much of it there will be or if there will be a back catalog of movies and TV series to go along with it. The naysayers make assumptions based on their own personal bias and what the rumor mill vomits up. At least I’m willing to wait until I actually experience it to make my opinion known instead of declaring I”ll check back in a couple of years because it will be a failure at first anyway. But hey, let’s make fun of Apple’s apparent decision to produce family oriented content with the attitude of “If I can’t watch explicit sex, nudity, graphic violence then I’m not interested."
    I think the word you’re searching for is “snobbery”....
    lollivermatrix07715ngcs1
  • Reply 14 of 37
    CarmboCarmbo Posts: 21unconfirmed, member
    The most important piece of this puzzle is the price. The price Apple has announced hits the sweet spot. It’s low enough that quite a few people will give the service a try, even early on with a small number of titles. As to how consumers are going to respond to specific offerings, I would imagine Apple will have hits and misses, just like every other content provider. No content provider has or likely ever will get it right 100 per cent of the time. But a percentage of the offerings will be excellent, no doubt, and at about $5 a month, the service will flourish, as long as Apple resists the urge to significantly increase the cost in the long run. 
    lolliver
  • Reply 15 of 37
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,519member
    Some shows will command viewership, so they can be released one per week. I don't know that Apple will have enough content that all episodes (let's say 12 or less) of any one show could be released at once.

    Original content is always a risk. On some shows, maybe Dickinson, releasing just one might not be enough to grab a viewer's commitment. Releasing three, enough to grab most inclined viewers attention, and then releasing subsequent episodes one per week would be a good way to go.

    Amazon and Netflix have a lot of content, much of which isn't original, so they can afford to release some show in their entirety. HBO's GoT had no problem keeping viewers for 8 seasons while doing the one-a-week thing.


    15ngcs1
  • Reply 16 of 37
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,462member
    Carmbo said:
    The most important piece of this puzzle is the price. The price Apple has announced hits the sweet spot. It’s low enough that quite a few people will give the service a try, even early on with a small number of titles. As to how consumers are going to respond to specific offerings, I would imagine Apple will have hits and misses, just like every other content provider. No content provider has or likely ever will get it right 100 per cent of the time. But a percentage of the offerings will be excellent, no doubt, and at about $5 a month, the service will flourish, as long as Apple resists the urge to significantly increase the cost in the long run. 
    What good is a price that “hits the sweet spot” if you can’t make any money with it. No matter what subscription price is asked by content providers someone will rage on about how they would pay $2 but not $7 for the service. And if it turns out Apple is actually offering TV+  as a loss leader or below cost there will cries of anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing designed to hurt competitors, and “LET’S CALL THE LAWYERS”! You know that’s coming. I’m surprised the usual suspects aren't already pushing that narrative. We have absolutely no idea what the cost of TV+ is for Apple compared to the $4.99 they are asking. 
  • Reply 17 of 37
    CarmboCarmbo Posts: 21unconfirmed, member
    lkrupp said:
    Carmbo said:
    The most important piece of this puzzle is the price. The price Apple has announced hits the sweet spot. It’s low enough that quite a few people will give the service a try, even early on with a small number of titles. As to how consumers are going to respond to specific offerings, I would imagine Apple will have hits and misses, just like every other content provider. No content provider has or likely ever will get it right 100 per cent of the time. But a percentage of the offerings will be excellent, no doubt, and at about $5 a month, the service will flourish, as long as Apple resists the urge to significantly increase the cost in the long run. 
    What good is a price that “hits the sweet spot” if you can’t make any money with it. No matter what subscription price is asked by content providers someone will rage on about how they would pay $2 but not $7 for the service. And if it turns out Apple is actually offering TV+  as a loss leader or below cost there will cries of anti-competitive practices, predatory pricing designed to hurt competitors, and “LET’S CALL THE LAWYERS”! You know that’s coming. I’m surprised the usual suspects aren't already pushing that narrative. We have absolutely no idea what the cost of TV+ is for Apple compared to the $4.99 they are asking. 
    It seems to me that if you have enough subscribers you can make fabulous money at $4.99 a month. Keep in mind that it’s $60 a year so for every million subscribers, you bring in $60 million in revenue. If your total cost to deliver the service is let’s say $1.5 billion annually, then you would need 25 million subscribers, to reach break even. Here’s the thing. As big as that number may be, blowing well past it is not at all ludicrous considering the potential audience Apple has access to, especially on a global scale. I would imagine Apple already has the infrastructure in place to deliver content to a huge audience. There is no cost to Apple in terms of hardware at the end-user level. If anything, Apple makes a profit on selling hardware to consumers. The Internet connection also falls to the consumer. For Apple there is obviously a huge production cost for the content and it has to have in place and maintain the infrastructure to deliver content at its end. Yet, it’s not as if you incur $60 of additional cost annually for every additional subscriber so once you get past a particular point, it could be argued that all additional subscribers are feeding $60 each, annually, of pure profit into Apple’s coffers. This scenario is not the same as selling a product that has a clear cost per unit involved so it alters what makes sense in terms of making money. Less is more in that if your price is attractive enough, you draw in so many subscribers that you make more money at the lower cost than you would charging so much that the number of subscribers is below what you need to cover your costs. Four times as many subscribers paying $4.99 a month is preferable to what you get from a quarter of those subscribers paying $9.99 a month. You could bring in $2.4 billion from 40 million subscribers or $1.2 billion from 10 million subscribers. I doubt the cost of delivering content to an additional 30 million subscribers would cost Apple in the neighbourhood of $1.2 billion. Producing the programming would cost about the same and the delivery would only cost more if Apple didn’t already have the capacity to accommodate more subscribers.


    Obviously I’m not privy to the costs involved and no doubt this is a complex process that I can't expertly speak to. Yet I’m willing to bet Apple is better off with 40 million subscribers paying $4.99 a month than 10 million subscribers paying $9.99 a month. Further, increasing the price from $4.99 to $9.99 would, I believe, have that significant an impact on the number of subscribers. My guess is that Apple setting the price so low comes down to it having the potential to generate more profit, not less. Keep in mind that Apple routinely offers decent titles for a lower cost than most other content providers so keeping costs down on this front would not be out of character. When 4K first hit, Apple made the 4K versions of films available, free of charge, whereas to this day, studios are offering 4K blurays at a significant premium to plain old HD blurays. Apple sees this sort of thing differently which is why it makes sense to do its own content, hence controlling the process without the interference of content producers clinging to an outdated model.  
    15ngcs1
  • Reply 18 of 37
    taddtadd Posts: 122member
    tadd said:
    "It's also clear that the show won't be shying away from the belief among most historians that Dickinson had a long-running same-sex romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. "

    Most historians?  MOST??      I suggest "some"   or "historians who are interested in Dickinson" or something that qualifies this...    Is that contemporary English speaking historians?    Perhaps even naming the historians would be nice.  
    Feel free do do your own research, and publish it on your own website if you're so inclined.

    Do not take this response as an invitation to continue this line of discussion on the forums here.
    That seemed a Tadd-dismissive 
    Mike Wuertheleferdinandccrinosaur
  • Reply 19 of 37
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 5,003administrator
    tadd said:
    tadd said:
    "It's also clear that the show won't be shying away from the belief among most historians that Dickinson had a long-running same-sex romantic relationship with her sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert. "

    Most historians?  MOST??      I suggest "some"   or "historians who are interested in Dickinson" or something that qualifies this...    Is that contemporary English speaking historians?    Perhaps even naming the historians would be nice.  
    Feel free do do your own research, and publish it on your own website if you're so inclined.

    Do not take this response as an invitation to continue this line of discussion on the forums here.
    That seemed a Tadd-dismissive 
    Well executed!
  • Reply 20 of 37
    entropys said:
    The star said on the panel that the script was "unlike anything I've ever read, as a whole this was a character that was written in a way that I've never seen," Steinfeld said. "That Alena was able to take what we do know and also sort of explore the imagination of what this person who wrote these incredible things might be, and show that in a show overall, it's so different, and so wonderful
    So not Emily Dickinson, just some other character with the name in common. A reimagining of a recluse.

    it could be entertaining, but I hate how Hollywood has to outrageously distort historical figures, probably to send a modern message with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. And the worst is some people might think it is biographical. Imagine poor English teachers marking essays for the next few years.
    Maybe in a year or two, when the Foundation series is available I’ll be more interested. Do the producers of this show believe young people are idiots incapable of relating to historically accurate portrayals of people? Although a work of fiction with a bit of horror-fantasy thrown in, the hit movie “The Witch” showed a fairly historically accurate version of early American settler life, language and beliefs and it managed to be completely engrossing.
    Why do you assume the producers think the audience is stupid? It sounds like YOU think the audience is too stupid to tell the difference between a historically accurate biopic and historically-inspired fiction. Pretty sure if this show features "Wiz Khalifa shows up as a version of the Grim Reaper" they're absolutely not going for historically accurate.

    So I guess we shouldn't be allowed to have Peaky Blinders or Boardwalk Empire or The Favourite or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter because someone might get confused and write their senior thesis on it as if they were historical tomes, the horror! This isn't a documentary.
    StrangeDays15ngcs1
Sign In or Register to comment.