More Swearing & Swearengen
Today came with good news! not only is it Friday but, a decade after an inglorious cancellation that just left the show hanging, the beloved HBO series Deadwood is returning. It will be in the form of a movie, which works just fine for this guy.
Deadwood is the story of the denizens of the filthy Western gold mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota, the good, the bad and the just plain slimy.
About The Past. Ahead Of Its Time
Deadwood was a show that was far ahead of it’s time. whether it was the brutal subject matter (prostitution, racism, myriad addictions, murder, rape), the foul language (so many cocksuckers) or just rising actor costs, that got it prematurely cancelled, it’s generally held that this show has been long overdue for a revival. No show was able to boast so much bad language per episode without seeming to try too hard to push buttons, so let’s talk about
Why Deadwood was so goddamn good.
One of the first things about Deadwood that stands out to me is the moral ambiguity. Now don’t get me wrong, there are definitely good guys and bad guys. However, the good guys aren’t always squeaky clean and the bad guys aren’t filthy to the core. Decency can be found in the worst scoundrel, and the best person can be an occasional …. well, cocksucker.
There is no mustache twirling in Deadwood. Everybody just wants to get by, and survive in a world that is far more brutal than anything we can imagine. Since, at this time, Deadwood wasn’t even part of the United States, due to it being on Sioux land, brutality and lawlessness was through the roof. It was the rule of the strongest, and biggest badass. Which is brings us to….
It is no secret that Ian McShane’s slimy, brutal, ambitious Al Swearengen is the stand out star of a show full of great characters, and actors. McShane plays the character perfectly. He is a murderer, thief and woman beater, but every now and again we see a softer side to Al. Especially when it comes to the prostitute Trixie (Paula Malcomson), whom Al seems to genuinely care for. He went so far as to murder an innocent prostitute to pass off for Trixie when season 3’s villain wanted her dead. Trixie is Al’s soft spot, despite him frequently dishing her out brutal beatings.
It’s a Western. Westerns are few and far between on television these days, and good ones are even farther and fewer between. Deadwood broke the mold when it comes to Westerns on television, because since they were on HBO, they could have swearing, and nudity, and mayhem. There hasn’t been a tv western this good since. Hell on Wheels gives a valiant try but never hits the same highs as Deadwood. The Western is a truly American art form, and it’s great to see one not only being aired, but being revived after a decade.
The Goddamn Swearing
Language. Never in my life have I heard so many swears in one hour of television. These guys swear every other word and they aren’t afraid to use the really bad ones either. The idea was to be accurate to the way frontier people spoke, but they updated the swears so they would resonate with a contemporary audience. I could write more on this, but anybody who is reading this already knows can extrapolate.
Great Cast. Great Characters
The characters. I could have talked about this earlier but I really wanted to talk about Al Swearengen separately, considering he was really the standout as far as I’m concerned.
So let’s talk about some of the rest here. Deadwood was full of characters, each one as unique as the town in which they lived. Whether it be the unflappable Seth Bullock (Justified’s Timothy Olyphant), the incredible Calamity Jane (played masterfully by Robin Weigert), the aforementioned Trixie, the drug addicted widow of high social standing, Alma Garret (House of Card’s Mollie Parker), or the consumptive town doctor who suffers in his helplessness (medicine was shit back then), played by veteran character actor Brad Dourif. All these characters populate Deadwood and fill it with a unique flare and help create an environment brimming with possibilities and adventures. Nobody is one dimensional.
Overall I can’t really express how thrilled I am to see such a quality television show come back. I’m also thrilled to see that people are interested enough in a show like this to bring it back. Good work, guys! I used to believe that people just didn’t like shows that made them use their brains too much. I believe that may be changing, which bodes well for a slew of other great shows that ended long before their time, Rome and Hannibal to name a few, so all in all, this is awesome.