The third and final season of Dickinson is coming to Apple TV+. The half-hour coming of age comedy series follows a young Emily Dickinson as she navigates the constraints of society, gender and family. The third season takes place against the backdrop of the Civil War and follows the Dickinson family through that difficult time.
Hailee Steinfeld returns as Emily Dickinson and is joined by the returning ensemble cast, including Toby Huss, Adrian Blake Enscoe, Anna Baryshnikov, Ella Hunt, Amanda Warren, Chinaza Uche, Jane Krakowski and Wiz Khalifa. The third season also features Ziwe as Sojourner Truth, who additionally joined as a writer, Billy Eichner as Walt Whitman, and Chloe Fineman as Sylvia Plath.
The show, from executive producer Alena Smith, has earned a Peabody Award and a GLAAD Media Award nomination. Steinfeld was also recently nominated by the Hollywood Critics Association for the inaugural HCA TV Awards in the Best Actress in a Streaming Series, Comedy category.
“I don’t have a favorite moment because every moment of the entire series for me has been a labor of love,” Smith said of the third season. “But the last episode, which I directed, was a wonderful way to sort of put a capstone on this whole journey and bring everyone to a conclusion… It felt like the end of a really long road for me as an artist and to be stepping into the role of director for the first time ever was so special.”
Smith serves not only as executive producer but also as a writer and creator of the show. “What I learned when I finally stepped into directing Dickinson is that I had been doing 85% of the job anyway,” she says. “I was always the authorial voice at the helm of this show, but I was so fortunate to find such an incredible list of brilliant, creative and talented directors who were able to see my vision and execute it.”
Smith always imagined the show with a three-season arc, however, given the COVID-19 pandemic, it wasn’t guaranteed that they were going to be able to make the final season. “I was excited that we were going to get to make season three. Between season two and season three, the world really changed,” Krakowski who plays Mrs. Dickinson recalled. “We had a very long shutdown… And I think the whole season had a behind-the-scenes tone of gratitude from all the cast and the crew that we were all able to to make it and finish this chapter of what Dickinson is and hopefully give a poetic end to a story about a poet.”
Filming the final season was emotional for much of the cast. “The whole experience of shooting season three, for me, was very bittersweet,” Steinfeld says. “Just knowing that this was coming to an end. It’s a hard thing to sort of come to terms with when it’s something you have spent so much time with… It felt like this beautiful sense of closure. I feel like everything really came full circle.”
Steinfeld’s portrayal of a young Dickinson has always been very nuanced on the show as the tone walks the line of comedy and tragedy, history and modern storytelling. “I arrived at the third season feeling like I had a very well-rounded and complete understanding of the character that I was playing and the tone of the show that we were making.” She explains, “The first two seasons happened so quickly and we had so many incredible filmmakers come in and help us find that tone and develop these characters. But I felt like I had landed by the time we got to season three. With this season being, I think our most complex season yet, I felt we were all really ready to just tackle what was ahead, knowing that it was the final season.”
Krakowski felt similarly attached to her role. “I was so thankful for the material I was given as Mrs. Dickinson in season three.” She says, “They gave me such a beautiful journey from starting in such deep sorrow, great loss and emotional sadness to almost farcical comedy scenes.”
The show ends with well-crafted emotion and growth which struck a chord with many cast members. “I feel lucky to have played through every element of this character. A character who felt very lost and unseen and misunderstood in her own sexuality and her personal beliefs in her own home,” Steinfeld says of the titular role. “I’ve learned so much through her and through playing her, but I mainly just feel lucky to have had the opportunity to play this character who was written so beautifully. I’d like to bow down to Alena for creating what she did with this. I just feel so grateful to be a part of it.”
It’s a feeling echoed by Smith, herself. “I feel obviously it’s always hard to let things go. It’s always hard to bring things to an end, but this is the end that I wanted to get to. Mostly right now, I just feel really joyful that we got to take the whole journey.” Smith says, “What’s wonderful about streaming is that every time a new season comes out, we can bring in audiences who haven’t even started the first season yet. And I really hope that as the episodes start to roll out this fall, or even now as some of the trailers and press are coming out, that people who haven’t seen Dickinson will start at the beginning and watch the whole thing.”
Dickinson season 3 premieres November 5.