The Deuce

The Deuce

TV-MA

A densely written period drama with excellent characters and a gritty, stylish atmosphere

The Very Best

8.0

TV Show

United States of America
English
Crime, Drama
2017
Chris Bauer, Chris Coy, Daniel Sauli
60 min

TLDR

As long as you can learn to ignore that there are not one but two James Francos here, this is an incredible series.

What it's about

On 42nd Street in 1970s New York, the lives of gangsters, prostitutes, and local business owners intersect as pornography becomes a viable new industry.

The take

As has become typical of a David Simon series, The Deuce manages to bring myriad characters and perspectives into one setting, but somehow without resulting in information overload or stale drama. Simon's work (most famously, The Wire) has always been arguably more ethnographic than traditionally dramatic, and here it's no different: the portrait he and co-creator George Pelecanos paint of '70s New York feels so real that watching this is almost educational. The Deuce is a series all about change and freedom and the contradictions that come with ideas of sexual liberation and commodification, and it's endlessly fascinating to watch how these characters continue to dream big and redefine themselves in their own seedy little corner of the world.

What stands out

She's definitely more a product of creative license than a perfectly accurate portrayal of the kind of women creatives who were DIY-ing their way out of their difficult circumstances at the time, but Maggie Gyllenhaal's character Eileen—a prostitute turned entrepreneur turned film aspiring director—is truly the star of the show here. It's mainly though her that the show challenges its own ideas and asks the toughest questions about where emancipation ends and exploitation simply continues. And it's also through her that so many other characters get to see the lives they could be leading, whether as respectable businesspeople or as artists with something to say with all their pain.

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