Meet the real David Milch, creator and writer for the popular HBO television series Deadwood: former addict, on-again off-again bouts of insanity, former criminal, outspoken critic of American media and mainstream television drama—and one of the most successful television writers of his generation. His credits also include Hillstreet Blues, NYPD Blue and John from Cinncinati.
In this rather remarkable talk given at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Milch describes the historical research underpinning the Deadwood series (“90% historical accuracy”), his critique of the avaricious capitalism that emerged in the formative years of the American Republic, his relationship with truth in the construction of fiction, why he refuses to produce or write contemporary drama (because of what he calls the “Iraq war mini-series”), his dire concern with how television is changing how Americans think and perceive reality, why his series tend to undervalorize women and whether or not he feels responsibility to ensure that women are adequately represented.
He also has a thing or two to say about President Bush: “The dialogue going on about George Bush has nothing to do with George Bush and everything to do with the fact that he is the failed central character in an infantile drama which was being staged to narcotize the American public. Which is not to say that he isn't a moron. I know better than anyone else, I spent a lot of time with him. We're fraternity brothers. I find my old fraternity friend is more of a genial boob than a moral menace.”
More provocatively, Milch sounds an alarm about post 9/11 American society and the dangers of an over-manipulated public that spends more than half their waking hours watching television: “Let one more plane go into one more big building, and the American public will sign on to the extermination of every one of the Muslim faith. Trust me.”
This is a fascinating glimpse into one of the most influential minds working in American television today. The talk was given in 2006 and is available on the MITWorld website.