I’ve been cautiously optimistic about The Deuce since it was announced. As most of you already know, it comes from David Simon, one of the main creative forces behind The Wire, Homicide: Life on the Streets, Treme, The Corner, and Generation Kill. I’m listing out his full oeuvre here because I love all of these works (yes, even some of the more difficult passages of Treme — but it was all worth it in the end!) and I am also heading off “but The Wire!” comments when it comes to my reservations about The Deuce.
The new trailer for the series doesn’t do much to explain what’s really going on, but that’s not surprising; if you go back and look at trailers for The Wire, they’re comically bad. There’s no good way to sum up the incredibly complex narratives that populate shows that Simon makes in a minute-long trailer. So that gets a pass, sure. But while I really like Maggie Gyllenhaal, the two James Francos worry me. In Simon’s past series, the shows have made stars, and rarely had well-known names in the cast. Plus, the setting (porn in 1970s New York City) is giving me Vinyl vibes. In fact, the whole thing is giving me early-2000s HBO vibes (and not in a Sopranos way).
What I can say with relative certainty is that the show will be gritty — George Pelecanos, who is a frequent Simon collaborator and the co-creator here — is one of the most brutal writers on TV. His episodes of The Wire are among the shows darkest, and so the idea that his aesthetic will permeate this show suggests a tough series that I hope will be able to find some of the humor and lightness that Simon’s other work has (minus The Corner — that was unrelentingly bleak).
Check out the new teaser below, which is full of regular Simon collaborators from past projects; the series premieres September 10th on HBO.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Deuce:
Created by George Pelecanos and David Simon and starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, THE DEUCE follows the story of the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York’s Times Square from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s, exploring the rough-and-tumble world at the pioneering moments of what would become the billion-dollar American sex industry. George Pelecanos, David Simon, James Franco and Nina K. Noble executive produce.