The Deuce
GenrePeriod drama
Created by
Starring
Opening theme"(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Going to Go" by Curtis Mayfield (season 1)
"This Year's Girl" by Elvis Costello and Natalie Bergman (season 2)
"Dreaming" by Blondie (season 3)
Ending theme"Assume the Position" by Lafayette Gilchrist
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes25 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Jessica Levin
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Mark Henry Johnson
Production locationNew York City
CinematographyPepe Avila del Pino
Vanja Cernjul
Yaron Orbach
EditorAlex Hall
Running time
  • 58–84 minutes
Production companies
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkHBO
Original releaseSeptember 10, 2017 (2017-09-10) –
October 28, 2019 (2019-10-28)
External links
Website

The Deuce is an American drama television series created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, set in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s. The series' pilot began filming in October 2015 and was commissioned in January 2016.[1] It is broadcast by HBO in the United States and premiered on September 10, 2017.[2][3] HBO made the pilot available through its video-on-demand services and affiliates on August 25, 2017.[4]

The Deuce features a large ensemble cast including James Franco playing twins, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as an ambitious sex worker who becomes a film director. 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.[5][6]

On September 19, 2017, HBO renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on September 9, 2018.[7][8] On September 20, 2018, HBO renewed the series for a third and final season, which premiered on September 9, 2019.[9][10] The series concluded on October 28, 2019, after three seasons and 25 episodes.

Premise

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.[3][11] The third season takes place between 1984 and 1985.[12]

Conception

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.[13][14]

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."[15]

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."[16][17]

Cast

Main

Recurring

Guest appearances

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.[28] 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.[29][30] Co-creator and executive producer George Pelecanos appears as a bar patron in season 3, episode 6.

Episodes

Main article: List of The Deuce episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
18September 10, 2017 (2017-09-10)October 29, 2017 (2017-10-29)
29September 9, 2018 (2018-09-09)November 4, 2018 (2018-11-04)
38September 9, 2019 (2019-09-09)October 28, 2019 (2019-10-28)

Reception

Critical response

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 93% (89 reviews) 85 (35 reviews)
2 99% (37 reviews) 86 (13 reviews)
3 88% (17 reviews) 79 (6 reviews)

The Deuce has received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 85 out of 100 based on 35 reviews.[31] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 93% approval rating with an average rating of 8.67 out of 10 based on 89 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."[32] 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."[33] 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."[34]

The second season received continued critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it has a score of 86 out of 100 based on 13 reviews.[35] 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."[36] 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."[37]

The third season received continued critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it has a score of 79 out of 100 based on 6 reviews.[38] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an 88% approval rating with an average rating of 8.82 out of 10 based on 17 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."[39] 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."[40]

Ratings

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.[41]

Accolades

Year Award Category Recipients Result Ref.
2017 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Maggie Gyllenhaal Nominated [42]
Location Managers Guild Awards Outstanding Locations in Period Television Chris George, Pat Weber Sones Nominated [43]
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series Maggie Gyllenhaal Nominated [44]
Writers Guild of America Awards Best New Series Megan Abbott, Marc Henry Johnson, Lisa Lutz, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, Will Ralston, David Simon, Chris Yakaitis Nominated [45]
2019 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Jim Rider, Steven Weigle, John Bair, Aaron Raff (for "We're all Beasts") Nominated [46]
Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project John Bair, Vance Miller, Jose Marin, Steve Sullivan (for "42nd St") Nominated
2020 Casting Society of America Television Series – Drama Alexa L. Fogel, Kathryn Zamora-Benson, Elizabeth Berra Nominated [47]

References

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