American television series
The Deuce is an American drama television series created by David Simon and George Pelecanos. The series’ pilot began filming in October 2015 and was commissioned in January 2016. It is broadcast by HBO in the United States and premiered on September 10, 2017. HBO made the pilot available through its video-on-demand services and affiliates on August 25, 2017.
The Deuce features a cast that stars James Franco playing twins, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It tells the story of the Golden Age of Porn, the legalization and rise of the porn industry in New York City that began in the 1970s. Themes explored include government and police corruption, the violence of the drug epidemic and the real-estate booms and busts that coincided with the change. The show’s title is derived from the nickname for 42nd Street between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue.
On September 19, 2017, HBO renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on September 9, 2018. On September 20, 2018, HBO renewed the series for a third and final season, which premiered on September 9, 2019. The series concluded on October 28, 2019, after three seasons and 25 episodes.
- 1 Premise
- 2 Conception
- 3 Cast
- 4 Episodes
- 5 Reception
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Set during the 1970s and 1980s in New York, the violence of the drug epidemic is worsening. Twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino become fronts for the Mafia while operating out of Times Square, which is also the home of Eileen “Candy” Merrell, a street-level prostitute who exits the dangers of the street by entering the now-legal emerging porn industry as an actress and director. The first season takes place between 1971 and 1972, while the second season jumps five years ahead to 1977 with the season concluding in the summer of 1978. The third season takes place between 1984 and 1985.
The Deuce was envisioned as a three-season series by creators David Simon and George Pelecanos, with each season taking place in a different time period during the rise of the porn industry in New York City during the 1970s and 80s.
Marc Henry Johnson, an assistant locations manager on Treme, introduced Simon and Pelecanos to a man in New York who told them vivid accounts from his stint as a mob front for bars and massage parlors in 1970s Manhattan. “The characters were so rich, and that’s what it all comes down to”, said Pelecanos. Inspired by these stories, the producers set out to present a fictional account of the era. “Some of it happened”, said Simon. “Some of it didn’t happen. Some of it might have happened. But all of it could have happened.”
After suggestions from cast member Emily Meade, the series brought on Alicia Rodis as an intimacy coordinator, to help the actors during sex scenes, making sure they all felt safe and nobody was distressed. Meade explained, “It’s just mind boggling to me I’ve never been on set with an intimacy coordinator before; it felt so natural and so necessary. It’s crazy it took to 2018 for sexuality to be treated with the same sensitivity and vulnerability as violence, or animals or children. I hope it gets to a point where it’s not a choice, it’s necessity, just like stunt coordinators, or a chaperone for children and animals.”
- James Franco as Vincent Martino, a bartender, and Frankie Martino, a gambler. Twin brothers from Brooklyn operating out of Times Square, they become associates and fronts for the Mob.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal as Eileen “Candy” Merrell, a sex worker with an entrepreneurial spirit who sees opportunity in the emerging pornography industry.
- Gbenga Akinnagbe as Larry Brown, an intense and demanding pimp who later discovers a talent for acting. (seasons 1–2)
- Chris Bauer as Bobby Dwyer, Vincent and Frankie Martino’s brother-in-law, a construction foreman and family man whose eyes are opened by their adventures along the Deuce.
- Gary Carr as C.C., an affable but ruthless and controlling pimp. (seasons 1–2; guest season 3)
- Chris Coy as Paul Hendrickson, a kindred spirit to Vincent Martino and a veteran bartender who pursues his own personal and professional ambitions in the emerging gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political community.
- Dominique Fishback as Darlene (real name Donna), a young, sweet-natured sex worker who relies on her savvy and intellect to create a life for herself while navigating a complicated relationship with Larry Brown. (seasons 1–2; guest season 3)
- Lawrence Gilliard Jr. as Chris Alston, a smart NYPD patrolman who discovers corruption in the police department.
- Margarita Levieva as Abigail “Abby” Parker, a college student who rejects the confines of her wealthy upbringing by embracing feminist, left-wing politics and entering a relationship with Vincent.
- Emily Meade as Lori Madison, a young woman who quickly becomes a sex worker after arriving in New York City from Minnesota and finds her place in the emerging porn industry, but is hampered by the controlling C.C. and a cocaine addiction.
- Natalie Paul as Sandra Washington, a newspaper reporter who’s investigating the relationship between sex work in Times Square and the police department. (season 1)
- Michael Rispoli as Rudy Pipilo, a Gambino family capo who oversees the Mob’s financial interests in the sex industry.
- Luke Kirby as Gene Goldman, an incoming Koch administration official bent on reform. (seasons 2–3)
- Jamie Neumann as Ashley (real name Dorothy Spina), a sex worker who works for C.C. that quits the sex trade and becomes an activist with the help of Abby. (season 2; recurring season 1; guest season 3)
- David Krumholtz as Harvey Wasserman, a highly intelligent and quick-witted director of pornographic movies who mentors Eileen. (season 3; recurring seasons 1–2)
- Olivia Luccardi as Melissa (real name Margaret Ross), a sex worker who worked for Reggie Love and then for C.C. before joining the porn industry (season 3; recurring seasons 1–2)
- Sepideh Moafi as Loretta, a sex worker who works for Larry Brown. (season 3; recurring seasons 1–2)
- Daniel Sauli as Tommy Longo, an associate of Rudy Pipilo. (season 3; recurring seasons 1–2)
- Method Man as Rodney, a pimp.
- Don Harvey as Danny Flanagan, a NYPD patrolman and Alston’s partner.
- Michael Kostroff as Rizzi, a desk sergeant in Alston and Flanagan’s precinct. (seasons 1–2)
- Mustafa Shakir as Big Mike, a physically imposing man of few words who becomes Vincent’s muscle and fiercely devoted friend.
- Thaddeus Street as Black Frankie, a Vietnam veteran hired by Vincent for security at the parlors.
- Genevieve Hudson-Price as Jocelyn, Harvey’s wife and film assistant.
- Anwan Glover as Leon, who runs a diner the characters frequent. His disgust at the treatment of the women by their pimps eventually boils over.
- Ralph Macchio as Officer Haddix, a jaded vice cop patrolling Times Square in the corrupt police force of 1970s New York.
- Zoe Kazan as Andrea Martino, Vincent’s estranged wife
- James Ciccone as Carmine Patriccia, a mob underboss who works out of a Mulberry Street social club in Little Italy and is one rung above Rudy Pipilo.
- Will Chase as Jack, a divorced man in his 40s who has a brief relationship with Eileen, unaware that she is a sex worker. (season 1)
- Garry Pastore as Matthew Ianniello, the Genovese Family capo who ran the Times Square porn industry during the 1970s and 1980s.
- Carolyn Mignini as Joan Merrell, Eileen’s disappointed mother who lives in the suburbs.
- Finn Robbins (season 1), Mikey Moughan (season 2) and Dion Costelloe (season 3) as Adam, Eileen’s son who lives with her mother.
- E. J. Carroll as Fat Mooney, manager of a sex shop owned by Frankie. (seasons 1, 3)
- Gino Vento as Carlos, driver and bodyguard for mobster Rudy Pipilo. (seasons 1–2)
- Aaron Dean Eisenberg as Todd Lang, a classically trained, unsuccessful actor who begins working in porn films and quickly finds a home. He befriends Paul Hendrickson and enters a personal/business relationship with him.
- Kim Director as Leila “Shay” Brodie, a sex worker who works for Rodney and struggles with heroin addiction.
- Andrea-Rachel Parker as Bernice, a sensitive and naive young woman. During season 1 Darlene travels home to North Carolina and returns with Bernice. She is “traded” from Larry to Rodney, after Larry deems her too young and not street ready. She then works at the parlor. In season 2, she becomes the parlor’s bartender.
- Pernell Walker as Ruby “Thunder Thighs,” a thoughtful and opinionated sex worker who unapologetically embodies her unorthodox aesthetics. Walker has stated that she appreciates the care taken in writing for the character, whose inclusion in the show is not just sensationalism. (seasons 1, 3)
- Tariq Trotter as Reggie Love, a pimp (season 1)
- Matthew James Ballinger as Gentle Richie, a pimp. (season 1)
- Alysia Reiner as Kiki Rains, a shrewd and successful talent agent who manages Lori. (seasons 2–3)
- Roberta Colindrez as Irene, who manages a peep show that is owned by Vincent and the mob. She helps Shay get sober and initiates a relationship with her. (seasons 2–3)
- Armand Assante as Mr. Martino, Vincent and Frankie’s father. (seasons 2–3)
- Michael Stahl-David as Kenneth, a boyfriend of Paul’s and business partner in his new club. (season 2)
- Sebastian Arcelus as Dave, a labor activist and associate of Dorothy’s. (season 2)
- Esteban Carmona as Julito, a pimp (season 2)
- Jim Parrack as Russell, a film editor who becomes Eileen’s boyfriend. (season 2)
- Taylor Selé as Renton Lowry, a pleasant young man with a Caribbean accent who befriends Darlene and helps her get a job and escape the sex trade. (season 2)
- Ryan Farrell as Greg Taylor, a Los Angeles talent agent who becomes Lori’s personal and professional partner. (seasons 2–3)
- Michael Gandolfini as Joey Dwyer, Bobby’s son. (seasons 2–3)
- Domenick Lombardozzi as Jack Maple, a highly regarded transit police officer who assists Alston in cleaning up Times Square. (season 3)
- Kelcy Griffin as Jennifer Preston, a smart young African American cop who attracts the attention of Alston. (season 3)
- Corey Stoll as Hank Jaffe, a wealthy businessman who dates Eileen. (season 3)
- Calvin Leon Smith as Reg, a sweet-natured gay African American man who befriends Melissa and looks out for her in the apartment they share. (season 3)
- Sonia Mena as Xiomara, an assertive Hispanic sex worker who quits Bobby’s parlor business and encourages the other women to do the same. (season 3)
- David Morse as Matthew Ross, Melissa’s long estranged father. (season 3)
- Paloma Guzman as Pilar, a graffiti artist who initiates a relationship with Abby. (season 3)
- Ben Livingston as Dr. Steiner, a psychiatrist who owns a sleazy property in Times Square. (season 3)
Clarke Peters, who played Lester Freamon in The Wire (which David Simon created), guest stars in the season 1 finale as Ace, a former pimp. Photographer Nan Goldin made a cameo appearance in a season 2 episode. She has worked in the same post-Stonewall era of New York city displayed in the series. Co-creator and executive producer George Pelecanos appears as a bar patron in season 3, episode 6.
Season 1 (2017)
Season 2 (2018)
Season 3 (2019)
The Deuce has received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 85 out of 100 based on 35 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 8.67 out of 10 based on 88 reviews. The site’s critical consensus is, “The Deuce again demonstrates David Simon’s masterful grasp of urban grit, while never losing detailed sight of its colorful characters.” Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter gave it a highly positive review, praising its ensemble cast, and wrote in conclusion, “Simon and Pelecanos are just beginning to put the machinery of The Deuce into motion in these eight episodes. As an opening act, the show’s first season is substantive, provocative and entertaining.” Charles Bramesco of The Guardian gave it a five star review and wrote, “Simon has created his most accessible work of humanism to date, and he’s done so without sacrificing his loftier ambitions of societal critique.”
The second season received continued critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it has a score of 86 out of 100 based on 13 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 99% approval rating with an average rating of 8.4 out of 10 based on 37 reviews. The site’s critical consensus is, “The Deuce's excellent character-driven drama returns with even more immersive world-building and a welcome focus on its leading ladies, carried by a tour de force performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal.” Allison Shoemaker for RogerEbert.com gave it a highly positive review, and wrote “Simon and Pelecanos seem to have hit their stride with this particular story, expertly balancing character-driven storytelling with a wide-angle view of the social, economic, political, cultural, sexual, and gendered dynamics of the era.”
The third season received continued critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it has a score of 79 out of 100 based on 6 reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an 85% approval rating with an average rating of 8.43 out of 10 based on 13 reviews. The site’s critical consensus is, “Visually rich and utterly human, what narrative stream The Deuce loses in its final season is more than made up for in its depth of character and world building.” Ben Travers of IndieWire gave it an “A-” grade and praised the series’ world-building, writing, “The Deuce is one of the most impressive examples in recent memory. He further wrote, “In terms of sheer artistic value, these touches can’t be praised highly enough. […] It’s a stunning, transportive experience each and every episode.”
The premiere episode received 830,000 viewers on HBO for its initial airing and an additional 342,000 viewers for its encore later that night, on September 10, 2017. The episode was previously made available online through on-demand and HBO Go on August 25 and received 1.1 million viewers. Cumulatively, through all platforms, the episode received 2.2 million viewers.
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