It's ridiculously Shakespearean. I mean it's literally a Shakespeare play staged in the old west; you have the Fool (Calamity Jane), the Narrator (Farnum), the tragic hero, the plotting sinister antiheros, the lower class righteousness and anti-government, and most of all you have the long soliloquies where people go off on these long explanations of what other characters are thinking and hypotheticals and so on. The monologes by Swearingen and Farnum are particularly hillarious.
"Yond Bullock has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous". (Act I, Scene II). "Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Farnum, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings" "If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"
I just completely randomly opened some Shakespeare and got this :
K. John. Though you and all the kings of Christendom Are led so grossly by this meddling priest, Dreading the curse that money may buy out ; And by the merit of vile gold, dross, dust, Purchase corrupted pardon of a man, Who in that sale sells pardon from himself, Though you and all the rest so grossly led This juggling witchcraft with revenue cherish, Yet I alone, alone do me oppose 170which is straight out of Deadwood. Anyway, it's so obvious that it must be intentional by the creators. I haven't done any research into whether they admit it, maybe they do.
I find the anachronisms a bit disturbing, but since it's just a play I roll my eyes and let it slide.
I find the constant repetition of "cock-sucker" and "fuck" to be pretty tedious. It doesn't make the dialog more realistic or gritty. Are HBO viewers fucking time travellers from the 1950's where all it takes is a bit of profanity to get them all excited? If you want to do an old-west show where the characters are "salty" then make it more fucking interesting, use some actual period slang for one thing, and fucking vary it up so it's not just always the same shit. It's not funny, it's not interesting dialog texture, it doesn't add impact, it's just fucking juvenile.
Also the Calamity Jane actress/character is totally intolerable. Following my great success in just skipping past the horrible cooch girls in Carnivale I'm just skipping every scene with Jane in it. It's great! Not only do I get to skip over awful dragging bad parts of the show, it actually makes the rest of the show more interesting because I have to figure out what happened in the parts I missed. All TV these days is way too repetitive and leaves out all mystery for the viewer; they lay everything out so obviously that you don't have to use your brain at all to follow along; things are much better when they challenge your mind a bit to put the pieces together yourself. You can create this puzzle for yourself by just skipping over 25% of any TV show.