Entertainment » Television

The Deuce - The Complete First Season

by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Feb 13, 2018
The Deuce - The Complete First Season

Imagine if the only way you could watch HBO's "The Deuce" was in the back of a filthy bookstore, peering through a little peephole to see the images while men in trench coats masturbated around you. At one time that was the only way most people could see the kind of graphic sex depicted in this original series.

But during the early 1970s the obscenity law in this country, and in New York City in particular, went through some revolutionary changes. This series illustrates the corrupt police forces, the mafia strongholds and the small-time pimps and prostitutes that played a part in the evolution of our nation's current laws, contributing to the free and ubiquitous pornography that we can watch today.

Frankie Martino (James Franco) is trying to make an honest living in the Deuce, a section of 42nd Street near Times Square, but his twin brother's (also Franco) gambling addiction puts him under the thumb of the mafia. Consequently, Frankie is carving out his little piece of the American Dream through a mob front bar, where his main clients are pimps, prostitutes, policemen and a massage parlor.

Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) plays a different kind of an entrepreneur: a sex worker who refuses to let her body be run by a man. Without the protection of a pimp, she lives in constant danger of black eyes, broken noses and worse. For this reason, she has a growing interest in the nascent porn industry, and she wants it to get in it "on the ground floor."

Saundra Washington (Natalie Paul) uses her position as a reporter to get at the truth of the sex trade in Times Square from the point of view of the girls on the street. But no one wants to talk except midtown cop Chris Alston (Lawrence Gillard, Jr.), and he's stumbled on something of a politically motivated conspiracy. Law enforcement has no intention of stopping the crime; they just want to move it off the streets and into the ever-more-profitable real estate industry.

Though Franco is compelling in the lead role, the fact that he plays his own twin brother is confusing and distracting. It's sometimes hard to tell the two apart. The rest of the acting is raw and engaging with a number of fine performers. And, incidentally, in a series about the exploitation of woman, there are a number of complex female roles played by fascinating actresses.

George Pelecanos and his frequent collaborator, former police reporter David Simon, have created an absorbing part fiction, part fact-based world filled with appealing characters and brought to life with sensuous art direction.

The Blu-ray collection of "The First Complete Season" allows viewers to delve inside "The Deuce" with behind-the-scenes interviews of the creators and actors. In addition to a look inside each episode, there are two featurettes, one focusing on the setting and another focusing on the time period.

"The Deuce: The First Complete Season"


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