A disproportionately high number, by Hollywood standards, of the writers of Deadwood are women.
Television writers are part of a notoriously exclusionary boy's-club atmosphere. For decades -- and not just in the early days of TV, but continuing up to the present time -- all-male writing staffs are far more often the norm than they are the exception; it's not uncommon to find long-running shows that have never had a female writer*. The average representation of male to female writers in television is just under 5:1; in some genres it's much lower. (Apparently, the sole exception is daytime drama, or 'soap opera', and even there it's not parity, it's just a slightly larger male presence, say about 1.5:1.) On almost any TV show -- cable or network, comedy or drama, late-night or prime time, you'd expect male writers to outnumber female ones at least threefold.
Yet on Deadwood -- one of the most, for lack of a better term, masculine shows in recent memory, a show reeking with the situational sexism of its time and place, a show seeped in machismo, violence and the sexual and physical abuse of women -- you have near-parity in the writing staff. Of its 36 episodes, 20 were written by men and 16 by women. In the second season (my personal favorite, and the one that I think best captures the show's essence and appeal), the majority of episodes -- seven of the twelve -- were written by women. No season featured less than a third of the episodes penned by women.
For reasons that I cannot quite articulate, and which probably have to do with me being a hopeless pig, this surprises me. I would think -- and this is not a value judgment, merely a confession -- that if any show in recent memory would have a writing staff dominated by men, it would be Deadwood. And yet here we are.
Commence your hatin'.
*: Let's dispense with this conversation by saying I KNOW that this is because of rampant sexism and generations of bad hiring policies, and not any reflection of talent. I don't condone, I just recognize.