Okay, I know there’s other threads for Deadwood around here, but I fear the spoilers on them. As I’ve only just watched the first episode…I’M TRYING TO AVOID SPOILERS.

I was pretty knocked out by the show. The opening credity sequence was just beautiful, and that’s usually a good harbinger (and why I’m a sucker for David Fincher’s films, probably).

I’m curious about all the cursing, though. In the first scene/sequence alone I think 78% of the words were “fuck” or “cocksucker” or some variation thereof. Do any of you know if this is accurate, from a period point of view, or if the filmmakers even care? I was just surprised at all the cursing, especially the cocksuckering.

I saw the creator, David Milch, on a particularly good “Dinner for Five” (love that show) and he mentioned the use of flowery language, and by flowery I mean heightened and poetic, not “excuse my french” flowery. He said some folks were turned off by that, but he justified it by saying that all they had to entertain themselves were cheesy Victorian novels, so they emulated that in their speech.

The cursing just sounded so modern to me. Anybody know?


“You never used to say the word ‘fucking’.”


Y’know, I’ve only seen the first disc, but watching it I thought to myself “Man, there’s no one that can say ‘cocksucker’ like Rip Torn can.” So I’m really looking forward to Season Two.

There is definately a poetic quality to a lot of the dialogue, especially in season two. There is also a ton of cursing, though poetic cursing if you will.

They talk about this in the extended stuff in the DVD - and this was actually discussed in the spoiler laden other threads. But yes, it is historically accurate for a mining camp to have language like this.

The thing you have to remember about this place is it was essentially a place without law, belonging to no nation, and considered illegal by treaty with the Sioux. As such, most of the people it attracted before it was annexed into the US were the dregs of society, with a few notable exceptions (like Bullock and Star). They tended to talk harshly to distinguish themselves.

So while yes, it’s hard to believe, people did actually swear before the 1940’s.

Some characters now speak Shakespearean dialogue. It’s almost blank verse. E.B. is particularly prone to monologues like this in the second season. I’ve never seen another TV show with dialogue structured like Milch is writing in Deadwood.

Me neither Brett but you’re right. Funny. It does remind me of the way letters were written back then. Even some of the Civil War soldiers, the farmboys, were surprisingly eloquent.

Keep watching Amanpour. I think this is my favorite show ever.

Some characters now speak Shakespearean dialogue. It’s almost blank verse. E.B. is particularly prone to monologues like this in the second season. I’ve never seen another TV show with dialogue structured like Milch is writing in Deadwood.

It isn’t “almost blank verse”. It’s iambic pentameter. And now, they are pushing it a bit. Second Season’s starting to grate on me… I think it would help if everyone in town wasn’t a total doofus.

I’m halfway through the first season of Deadwood and the swearing never bothered me. I figured that the dialogue was spot on for a camp full of scum, deadbeats, murderers and the like.

I was however surprised, and pretty amused, when I watched a first-season episode of The Wire last week and saw two detectives make dialogue entirely consisting of “fuck” and “motherfucker” while investigating a crime scene.

Milch said in that New Yorker article (or maybe the EW one) that the swearing is authentic. In a place like Deadwood, back then, swearing was a way to show other tough guys that you were a tough guy. Society was more stratified back then. I mean, back then there was definitely a class of people who’d never curse. So saying “cocksucker” in Deadwood was proving you weren’t one of “them.”

Yeah, Milch’s favorite selling point for the show is the extreme verisimilitude, including and especially the mannerisms of speech. I admit to being taken aback at first as well (“cunt” is still a bummer), but now I’m used to it. It’s like when I first started as a busboy in a local hotel casino when I was 16. Holy shit, do they ever swear in hotels. It’s nonstop whenever customers are out of earshot, when you hang with people when they’re off work.

It really makes sense in Deadwood, though. A horde of low-class greedy dull fuckers commingling in a nearly-lawless town, what would you expect?

I don’t know. I guess I expected some pre-David-Mamet form of cursing. Something vaguely English, like “tosser” or “pisser” or “swive” or “jape” or something. It’s not that I didn’t expect denizens of Deadwood, that wretched hive of scum and villany, to curse, I just was wondering if “cocksucker” was period, or if they were all putting each other down by insinuating that each other sucks on roosters.

I realize using more…well…Shakespearean curse words would really dull the effect on modern ears, so maybe at some point you have to compromise. It’s an interesting conundrum, writer-wise. If your point in having that much hard language, other than trumpeting the fact that you’re on HBO and HBO is No-Holds-Barred-Television, is to highlight character levels and hit your audience between the eyes, then being slavishly accurate w/r/t period linguistics may be at a cross-purpose.

I definitely will. I just watched the second episode (the first dvd only contains two episodes) and I’m pretty much hooked. The acting is fantastic. The only question is whether to clear the remaining dvd’s from my queue and just buy the damn thing–excuse me, cocksucking thing–or keep renting it.

Any of you who have the set, are the extras worth having?

“Why do you use that word?”
“I use it…because it’s descriptive.”


Buy it.
I want it. I’ve watched it on HBO twice and I still want it. FWIW Milch is a crazy, crazy man - expecially crazy about accuracy and he swears the cursing is 100% accurate. Keep us filled in on your progress with the show man. If everyone else gets bored, email me. I love this show.

Of course my favorite character is from the last episode (and this isn’t a spoiler). Gotta love Captain Bub.

Indeed, there’s a mention on the DVD commentary that EB Farnum utters the one anachronistic bit of cursing on the show but they left it in because they loved his improvised delivery.

Frankly, I have a much easier time believing the cursing than the Victorian speech. I love it but Milch’s logic, that this was all they had to read and so they must have emulated it in their speech as a way of elevating themselves, seems a bit tenuous.

I thought the dialog actually became a bit too dense at the start of season two but he seems to have hit his stride the past couple of episodes.

Wanna explain the difference then, smart guy? Because blank verse is just iambic pentameter without the rhymes.

And I’d still say “almost,” because I’ve watched some episodes with captioning on and the dialogue style veers all over the place in spots. As well as I can determine, however. You’d need to see a script to really get an idea of what Milch is doing.

I thought he said that he didn’t really know, that he was just projecting an assumption. I’m sure someone asked him about all the "cocksucker"s in one article that I read, and he dodged it with some comment about Deadwood being a rough place.

Anyhow, I think the language fits really well with a Wild West show. I’m glad that Milch didn’t get the Roman deal, though, because this sort of language in a Roman-period show would really annoy me. I’m hoping that HBO’s Rome show this fall doesn’t go for the same approach.

Calamity Jane guest starred on CSI tonight.

I kept expecting her to call Grissom a Fucking Cocksucker.

Congratulations, that was the point - iambic pentameter is blank verse, it isn’t “almost” blank verse. And iambic pentameter doesn’t have to rhyme, nor does blank verse have to be in iambic pentameter. I was merely pointing out that what blank verse is in Deadwood is in the form of iambic pentameter.

That’s one thing I like about the good HBO series, the talent will start to pop up in other places. For example, it seems like just about every fairly unknown actor from Oz received a few shots on network TV and in the movies.

I’d like it known that this is the first post Brett’s made about Deadwood that I agree with 100%. I love the language of Deadwood, and if I learned it’s inaccurate I wouldn’t care and I’ve got really high hopes for Rome. I hope it’s different from Deadwood the same way Deadwood is different from Sopranos.

VegasRobb- That’s more because of the Fontana connection with Homicide giving Oz guys easy network credits.