While Emily Dickinson’s poetry will live forever, Apple TV+ is preparing to bid the writer adieu as Dickinson gears up for its third and final season.
Debuting in 2019, the half-hour comedy from creator and showrunner Alena Smith has enchanted viewers with its modern approach to the poet’s coming-of-age story. Bringing Emily to life is actress and series executive producer Hailee Steinfeld, who TV Insider caught up with on the show’s set along with her costars Anna Baryshnikov and Ella Hunt, best known as Emily’s sister Lavinia and best friend/lover Sue.
Shooting on location at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration in Long Island, the production used the site to shoot exterior scenes, doubling for Emily’s old stomping ground of Amherst, Massachusetts. “I will say we’ve never shot at this time of year, which I was very excited about because it’s always been freezing,” Steinfeld told TV Insider amid the heat of an early June day between scenes. “And then I was like, wow, spring, this is going to be…” she adds with a laugh from behind a mask as strict COVID-19 safety measures were followed.
Steinfeld, along with her costars, and Smith, who was directing that day for the show’s finale episode, were busy capturing the last moments of Emily’s TV story which is heavily influenced by the Civil War in Season 3. “We’re now in the time of the Civil War and Emily has this sort of newfound hope and excitement towards her writing and where she’s at,” Steinfeld teases.
“She definitely got lost in Season 2,” the actress admits, referring to Emily’s writer’s block amid uncertainties about her relationship with Sue and the pressures of publisher Sam Bowles (Finn Jones). “[She] lost her way, lost herself, lost her ability to write for a moment.”
But expect a lot of change from Emily as Steinfeld teases, “Emily’s grown so much in that she’s so grounded and present in what is going on around her, and she is so emotional about all of it … and she has made it her sole purpose to keep this hope alive and make sure that everyone that she loves and knows feels that there is hope,” says Steinfeld. “We can’t give that up. That’s kind of where we find her.”
Sue is also going through some changes, primarily with where her focus is. As viewers will recall in Season 2, Sue became enthralled with salon culture and would throw massive parties in her fancy home with Austin (Adrian Blake Enscoe). Now she’s getting a bit more serious.
“Salon life in Season 2, for Sue, was a lot about pushing away anything that made her think or feel too deeply,” shares Hunt. “It was about bringing this world around her as a sort of armor shield from the pain of the past.”
While Hunt admits that Sue still “really enjoys having brilliant people around her” in Season 3, she’s “much less oriented around the outside of the Dickinson family social, and much more about building a family for herself. Carving out what family means, for Sue.”
As for Lavinia, she’s mourning the family she could have had. “Even though the reason for mourning has some greater good, which is the Civil War for Lavinia. It also means that all of her potential husbands and boyfriends have died or are dying,” Baryshnikov explains. “I think she’s having a moment that I can certainly relate to, but I think people at a lot of moments in their lives can, which is that she’s coming up against the wall of her own decisions.”
“She’s realizing what she sacrificed in wanting to be independent,” says Baryshnikov. “She turned down these relationships that could have been the foundation of a family. And now that all of the eligible men her age are being sent to war, she’s really experiencing that grief and then kind of doubling down on it and almost enjoying performing the grief.”
Despite the emotional moments that lay ahead for Dickinson‘s characters amid war, expect plenty of laughs along the way as this cast and Smith continue to bring Emily’s story to life for 21st-century viewers.
Dickinson, Season 3 Premiere, Friday, November 5, Apple TV+