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Should, could, Deadwood 

Six reasons why you should hitch your horse to HBO’s fabulously, furiously profane and entrancing Western series, Deadwood.

For those of you who have been busy panning for gold, it might behoove you to know seasons one and two of the HBO television series Deadwood are currently available for purchase. Why would this matter to the discerning holiday-gift buyer? Especially, say, someone who doesn’t regularly use or appreciate the term “cunt-licker” in daily conversation? The way I see it, if you only buy one DVD this year, you should strongly consider making it Deadwood. The gritty day-to-day lives of the town of Deadwood’s lawless brothel owners, prospectors, prostitutes, make-shift lawmakers, bar owners and run-of-the-mill rats makes for some pretty involved TV viewing. It shouldn’t offend your lily-white sensibilities (or the lily-white sensibilities of your family) if you think of it in the following manner:

1 Deadwood is shown on the History Channel now and there’s a good reason for that, my friends. When the series creators made the characters and the plot lines, they got their hands dirty thumbing through a few historical documents first. Almost all of the characters are based on real inhabitants of Deadwood and the series follows a remarkably faithful timeline. There is a certain scholarly pleasure in watching the town receive its first letterpress, camera or bicycle and knowing that we are witnessing a reasonable facsimile of how that actually would have affected the town. I mean, really, what would we do without our letterpresses?

2 It may not be the type of show you’d normally consider appropriate for family viewing but, at the very least, you could make some popcorn, heat up some hot chocolate, cuddle on the couch and be thankful no one in your family is living in such a town, or in such a time. You may think you have a knack for swindling the local hoopleheads into buying your homemade soap, or what have you, but I assure you, your skills would not hold up under such circumstances as smallpox.

3 The English buff in the bunch will surely see the tortured beauty in EB Farnham’s (the local hotel owner and pariah) soliloquies. It is rumoured that the show is written in iambic pentameter, which I cannot confirm or deny, but Farnham’s long-suffering slimy nature makes for one compelling Shakespearesque rant.

4 Turned off by the rampant misogyny? So was I. Turned on by complicated characters with varied motivations and realistic development? Why, me too! With this realization (and the basic understanding that the late 1870s were no women’s studies seminar, to say the least), you can be on your way to making peace. As someone who considers her feminism tight, it was awfully hard to cotton to Swearengen, owner of one of the local brothels (that’s right, there are several). However, the show satisfies with repeated viewings. Trixie (Swearengen’s first lady and hot-headed prostitute) takes an awful lot of shit from Swearengen, but gives an awful lot back. She eventually decides, in the second season, to become an accountant (awesome!). If this fails to comfort you, consider playing my favourite parlour game, “Swearengen: Yay or nay?” If having a rousing discussion concerning a character’s worthiness isn’t suitable family discourse, I don’t know what is.

5 If you’ve ever wondered about the quality of conversation you can have with a dismembered head in a box, this show will help you will find out---without enduring the fuss or muss of procuring a dismembered head in a box.

6 Personally, I think everyone should be over swearing by now. It’s much harder to see a missing-kitten poster or experience some little injustice of daily life than to be exposed to a randomly uttered bad word. Colourful language shouldn’t muddle our ability to recognize a good piece of television writing. But I realize that some people do not share this sentiment. If you will not budge on this stance, perhaps Deadwood is not for you. For the rest of you cocksuckers, I think you may well have discovered your perfect box set. We’re going to have a snow day at some point this year and I, for one, won’t endure it making cookies or bonding with a loved one. I’ll be fine-tuning my Deadwood drinking game.


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