The Deuce: Sex, Sex, Sex and James Franco

the deuceI haven’t seen such a sexed up series in a while. Game of Thrones or Spartacus are truly romance stories for teenage girls by comparison! In this review you’ll learn what #zlotybaby thinks about this series about prostitution and porn in New York of the fabulous 70s.

The first season of the series focuses on quite a number of main(ish) characters. Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a disillusioned prostitute who refuses to be pimped and aspires to direct sexy movies. Abby (Margarita Levieva) comes from a rich family but doesn’t feel like she belongs to the overly proper world so she tries to make ends meet as a bartender. There’s also James Franco in a double role of twins, Vincent and Frankie Martino. The former is the more level-headed business owner, the latter your typical trouble maker. The series also follows a number of secondary characters: the main pimps played by Gbenga Akinnagbe and Gary Carr and their protegees, Darlene (Dominique Fishback), Lori (Emily Maede) and Ruby (Pernell Walker). Let’s not forget about a nosy and beautiful journalist Sandra (Natalie Paul) who wants to write an article about it all with the help of a slightly corrupted police officer (Lawrence Gilliard Jr).

The big number of characters may be initially confusing but they’re all quite memorable. The cast is very well chosen and it also facilitates remembering who is who. There are some weak points in the choice of actors, though. Abby, a 20 year old girl, is played by a woman quite close to her 40s and it hinders the character’s credibility (and yes, I’d also be protesting if it was the case of a male character). Another weird choice was James Franco x 2. The characters of the twins are not different enough (or perhaps it’s Franco’s acting fault?) and I often felt confused about which one is which. I get that many women could watch Franco in all the roles but alternative movies like “Being John Malkovich” or “Adaptation” are a better fit for such questionable cast choices. Having said that, I was really impressed by great costumes, make-up and acting in the TV show in general and in particular on the side of the pimps and the prostitutes. You almost could forget that this isn’t what they do in their every day life!

Partially thanks to the actors, it’s very easy to get into the world presented on the screen. You feel for the girls and just like them you have a hate and love relationship with their pimps. Sex in this series is just a commodity that can be bought and in general is rather deprived of romanticism. What do you want? The world of prostitution and porn is cruel. The women are abused not only by their pimps who are supposed to be protecting them but also by their clients. The business is dangerous and it doesn’t pay that well after “your man” takes his cut. The idea that it’s easy money seems to be far from the truth.

The sad, depressing world of “The Deuce” is in some twisted way entertaining. I compulsively wanted to learn more about the characters, even if a lot of the time I wasn’t expecting anything good happening to them (GOT fans surely get it). There are no easy fixes in the depicted world. How to escape the business? Especially if there’s a video out there on which you’re having sex? Even if it’s possible, can you forget about all the penises you had to suck? I’ve never worked as a prostitute but as a teenager I made money sex texting in my first post matric job. I felt dirty for a long long time after I quit. I was also very doubtful about the nature of men in general for years to come. Of course, they’re not all the same but when you’re constantly exposed to one kind it does become your perception of the whole. Still, I’m quite interested to see what the future holds for the women of the night in this series.

“The Deuce”  is a bitter-sweet tale that shows us a world which doesn’t exist anymore. And yet, 50 years later just like 200 hundred years earlier, both prostitution and porn prosper. Perhaps it’s time to get off our high horse and recognise that interest in sex, including paid sex in reality and on the screen is a part of the human nature? Legalisation would bring safety to men and women involved in the industry but also to their clients. Brutal assaults, killings, spreading of STDs – all these issues could be avoided if only more governments had the balls to address the situation.

Last but not least, “The Deuce” really has a good soundtrack mostly suited for the presented period (I wouldn’t know any better but my husband did occasionally voice his doubts about the music truly being from the 70s). I really recommend this series to anyone who likes a TV show that takes them to a completely different place. I also can promise you that if you look at the problems of people on the screen, you will almost immediately feel so much better about your own.

What’s your opinion about legalisation of prostitution and pornography, Dear Reader? Any secrets to share? Have you already watched the series?

 

 

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