The Deuce ~ A Capsule TV Review by Allen Kopp
The new HBO series, The Deuce, set in New York City in the early 1970s, shows us the underside of the city: the sleaze of Times Square, the sex for sale, the rampant drug use, the pornography. If you go a little deeper, you see the lives of the people involved in these activities. Twins Vincent and Frankie (both played by James Franco) live on the edge. Vincent is a barman with an unfaithful wife (he is also unfaithful to her), two small children, and a load of debts. Frankie is an irresponsible gambler, in debt to loan sharks, who doesn’t mind leaving his gambling debts for Vincent to pay. Vincent is looking to improve his lot in life and be his own boss; he takes over the management of an unpopular bar and believes he can turn it around by making his waitresses wear skimpy outfits while they serve the customers. Neither Vincent or Frankie are the opera-loving, wine-sipping types with stock portfolios.
The most interesting character is “Candy” (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal.) Candy, whose real name is Eileen, is a not-so-young prostitute who works the streets of Times Square at night. Some of the “pimps” want to manage Candy, but she works independently. We know that Candy is taking a terrible chance every night, but she seems to know how to take care of herself and she has a young son to support. When Candy sees how lucrative pornography is for some people, but not for others, she takes steps to become involved in the pornography industry, which is a step up from being a whore.
The other whores, besides Candy, have pimps to “manage” them. The pimps are alternately caring and viciously brutal if something goes amiss with their money, so the whores are, with good reason, afraid of their pimps, while, at the same time, adoring them. When Lori gets off the bus from Minnesota, the pimp named C.C. takes her under his wing. Lori is no innocent, though; she has been whoring in Minnesota since she was sixteen and can teach C.C. a thing or two. Ashley, one of C.C.’s proteges, is jealous of Lori because of the interest that C.C. shows in her. Innocent-seeming Darlene, whore though she is, becomes interested in great literature through one of her “regulars.” Abby is a college dropout, who, while drifting, drifts into Vincent’s sphere. Will she become Vincent’s new girlfriend or will she herself turn to prostitution?
The world of The Deuce is the world of Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy. These are people living on the fringe, outside the law. Three episodes have aired so far, so there is much more to come and, after season one, there’ll be a season two. We’re definitely hooked.
Copyright © 2017 by Allen Kopp