James Franco and James Franco in David Simon's The Deuce

“The Porno Boom”

HBO (US), Sky, NEON (NZ)
Release Date
August 25, 2017
S01E01 ” Pilot”

David Simon, creator of only one of the most critically acclaimed shows of all time, The Wire, is back after Generation Kill, Treme, and Show Me a Hero. Okay, so he never really left. 

The Deuce is set in New York during the 1970s and follows several characters during the rise of the porn industry. Game of Thrones is known for its numerous plotlines, and HBO is implementing a similar formula with The Deuce.

James Franco and Margarita Levieva in David Simon's The Deuce

For starters, we follow Vincent and his twin, Frankie Martino (James Franco). Franco’s pulling an Ewan McGregor, who played two brothers in the latest season of Fargo. Vincent is a bartender whose marriage is in trouble. Frankie seems to have a gambling problem and is in trouble with some debt collectors.

Then we have Abigail Parker (Margarita Levieva) who is studying English Literature at New York University. And the rest of the characters are all involved in the sex industry in some way. Larry Brown (Gbenga Akinnagbe) is a pimp. Eileen “Candy” Merrell (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Lori (Emily Meade), and Darlene (Dominque Fishback) are all prostitutes.

I have several concerns about The Deuce. I found the pilot’s plot hard to follow, because it jumps back and forth between the characters’ lives quite frequently. And none of their lives started to intertwine until towards the end.

Pernell Walker, James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal in David Simon's The Deuce

Let me elaborate by providing some examples. Abigail’s scenes involve her life at university, her getting arrested and then interrogated by the police for trying to buy meth. The university student only encounters Vincent when she visits the bar he is working at. Lori’s story involves Larry becoming her pimp. She eventually meets Candy when they are both working. Vincent and Lori almost meet each other when it’s revealed that they live in the same apartment building during the episode’s last few scenes.

One of my main concerns is that the characters are all introduced within a short time span, and they don’t seem to have much in common other than that they all live in New York. I learned very little about these characters overall, but that being said, that’s fairly normal for a Pilot. Its job is to pique our interest.

I’m interested in following The Deuce just to see how all the storylines start to connect.