First time in Deadwood, SD tonight

Enjoying Deadwood for the first time tonight, and not only do I see where the Coen Brothers got their idea for the formula:  Brutal frontier town life + eloquent Victorian English = immensely entertaining, but also a fascintating display of ageless human conflict (individuals vs. society; capitalistic greed vs. commonweal; chaos vs. order) enacted through complex, well-spoken characters–the pimps, gamblers, tradespeople, miners, whores, and sheriff of the town all have baggage, all some nobility.

It’s Shakespearean drama in a Wild West town, and as such, it feels for this American as it might for the English viewier of the bard’s history plays. In the characters of Sheriff Bullock or Al Swearengen, do we not have our nation’s Prince Hal or Bolingbrook? Do we not see in their bitter struggles our national parentage, and recognize today’s cultural models and traditions?

I’m curious to see whether the Civil War is referenced, since the violence these characters do to each other is accepted as natural, perhaps trained into them in the army?

But alas, because of its liberal dose of carnality and profanity, Deadwood  is something I could never assign my students!

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