(The magnificent Michelle MacLaren (who directed the pilot and the season finale) spectacularly sandwiched between Tariq Trotter and Gary Carr.)
*Originally published November 30th, 2016*
With Game of Thrones on its way out the door, HBO is in the process of carving out a few new niches for series that will hopefully grab up some of that huge audience. With a stellar cast and a little mind-messing, Westworld seems to have done well for itself, and there’s another potentially excellent show headed our way. And hey, remember David Simon, that guy behind a few of our favorite all time series (Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire, Generation Kill, Treme)? He’s coming back home, so to speak, taking us on a little time-traveling adventure, back to the 70s and 80s.
Set in Times Square — which at the time was shall we say, a little seedy — The Deuce (42nd street’s nickname) will explore a subject near and dear to many Americans’ … private parts: the porn industry. Specifically, Simon’s digging into the sex industry just as it was emerging from under cover(s), spurred by the mafia, surrounded by violence, drugs, HIV, and a real estate boom. That’s a whole world of darkness, one that well done, could easily rival GoT. And just wait until you get a load of this insane cast that features many actors from The Wire:
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Candy, a prostitute with her eye on playing against the big boys, maybe starting her own porn company.
Lawrence Gillard Jr. (Hey, Bob/D’Angelo!) as NYPD Officer Chris Alston.
Gbenga Akinnagbe as the pimptastic, Larry Brown, pictured with Method Man aka Rodney, and Gary Carr aka his character’s a secret so far.
Anwan Glover as Leon.
James Franco as twin mobsters, Vincent Martino and Frankie Martino, and Zoe Kazan as someone who …
… has to wear this unfortunate jumpsuit. It is the 70s, after all.
Dominique Fishback as Darlene, a prostitute working for a violent pimp.
Mustafa Shakir as Vincent’s muscle, Big Mike.
Chris Coy as bartender, Paul Hendrickson.
Chris Bauer as Vincent/Frankie’s brother in law, Bobbie Dwyer.
Emily Meade (The Leftovers) as Lori.
Ralph Macchio as NYPD Officer Haddix.
Michael Rispoli as Gambino family capo, Rudy Pipilo.
Garry Pastore as Genovese crime family boss, Matthew Ianniello.
Finally, some of my fellow Revenge (don’t judge me!) watchers will recognize Margarita Levieva (aka Fauxmanda), who’ll play a college student involved with Vincent.
How in the world are we not talking about — frothing at the mouth over — this already? I have all the faith in the world that Simon and this talented group of actors have already created our next addiction. Aside from Michelle MacLaren, other directors include Uta Briesewitz (Iron Fist, Orange Is the New Black, Jane the Virgin, Mad Dogs), Ernest R. Dickerson (The Walking Dead, Treme, Dexter, The Wire) and James Franco. The Deuce will air in eight parts on HBO early 2017. Meet me with your bell-bottoms on.
*Update: The Deuce will premiere on HBO September 10th. During the series’ HBO TCA panel Simon offered some insightful comments:
Misogyny isn’t the currency. It’s what the show is about. That’s what the product was and we don’t sell beer or a Lincoln Continental [nowadays] without sexual imagery.
Everyone realized [at the time] that the money about to be made was going to be real. So what happened to those people who were the pioneers? I was much less interested in whether porn was good or bad, just like on The Wire I wasn’t concerned whether drugs were bad or good.
If we made something titillating, then damn us.”