Coming to watch the first season of Deadwood for the first time, I am amazed by Calamity Jane — and the performance of the actress, Robin Weigert, who plays her. By turns truculent and tender, sloppy drunk and nurturing, she is the most complex character I’ve seen on TV in a while, even on HBO. Dresses like a man, falls in love like a woman. Out-Nobbs Albert Nobbs. Superb horsewoman and crack shot, she cusses with more conviction than anyone else on the show, and that’s saying something.
Was the real Jane, Martha Jane Cannary, anything like the cable version? Let’s look at something from Jane’s diary, written in the 1890s:
“On occasions of that kind, the men would usually select the best places to cross the streams; myself, on more than one occasion, have mounted my pony and swam across the stream several times merely to amuse myself, and have had many narrow escapes from having both myself and pony washed away to certain death, but, as the pioneers of those days had plenty of courage, we overcame all obstacles and reached Virginia City in safety.”