HBO’s Deadwood: Dialogue Accurate?

HBO’s Deadwood: Dialogue Accurate?

I’m a big fan of this show, but curious. Is the dialogue accurate to the period this is portraying? I guess any linguists or historians might be up on this.

For those not familiar with the show about every third word is a graphic cuss word, but the rest of the dialogue is very ornate and replete with language that sounds almost Victorian.
I have never heard this particular style of dialogue in any period movies of this genre, and was wondering if this is an accurate portrayal, or just a way to give the dialogue a different sound.

Deadwood is written mostly in iambic pantameter, which gives it the “Shakespearan” bent you’re describing.

As far as the cursing - I’ve heard that the writers had to ramp up the severity of the cussing to sort of match the shock value of what was being said at the time… Sort of like inflation for swearing. Words like “Shit” or “Hell” or even “Damn” don’t really make us bat an eye nowadays, but back then they were considered much filthier.

Check out this recent thread on the subject.

I’ve heard that the amount of swearing is accurate, but the actual words used are anachronisms. And of course, nobody in the real world speaks in iambic pentameter; not Seth Bullock, not crazy Danish princes neither.


I believe they tried the accurate (ie. blasphemous) cursing but it just made everyone sound like Yosemite Sam, so they just switched to sexual swear words which would sound more earthy to a modern ear instead.