It Takes Two (Television Thoughts: The Deuce, HBO)

deuI just finished watching the whole first season of ‘The Deuce,’ and I must say I really liked it as a whole, and honestly, after watching the first pilot, I thought I wouldn’t, and almost gave up on it. I think what works best for me is that I need to watch these episodes right after each other, especially in a show like this where the plot is mostly slow burn, and is more character-centric. I know this comes from David Simon, who is very renowned for both ‘The Wire,’ and ‘Breaking Bad,’ two shows that I tried very hard to get into, but realized just not for my tastes.

The subject matter in ‘The Deuce’ was more interesting for me: prostitution and porn in New York City circa late 70s. This is a period in time I ‘romanticize’ in my mind. I got to New York in the mid 80s and only got the tail end of the sleaze and trash period of the city. I did see some, mind you, and compared to the Disneyfied New York of nowadays, I think that period of time definitely had more character.

James Franco, of whom I am very fond of as an actor, lured me in as well. And here he plays twin brothers caught in the maelstrom of the times. Although, honestly, did we really need twin characters – I guess it would be more in line with the ‘deuce’ idea – dual life of people’s paths crossing, intersecting, and passing by. Maggie Gylenhaal plays the emotional heart of piece, playing one of those prostitutes with a heart of gold kind of role, but also a tough cookie, and destined for both good and bad times. I think she is tremendous here, her big beautiful blue eyes doing a lot of the work: wariness, vulnerability, hope.

The series is supposes to be about the foundations of how about porn came to be, and I was waiting for it to happen, and that story only starts on the last third of the episodes. It spends a lot of the ear;y parts building on all the characters, and by the time the storyline came along, we find that we are already invested in these people.  As I said before, I enjoyed getting to know these characters, and look forward for a promised second season.

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