The Deuce Pilot episode Review

“The Deuce,” a new HBO series, stars James Franco as a pair of twins performing alongside a strong ensemble cast.

It’s supposed to follow a fairly seedy plot (the birth of the New York porn industry) set in a seedy location (the area around Times Square in the 1970s), about the seedy lives of downtrodden people.

Naturally, the show focuses at its inception on people whose lives are already a mess. James Franco’s family life is unenviable, and most of the other characters introduced are pimps or prostitutes.

Unsurprisingly, given the subject matter and the fact that the show is airing on HBO, it features gratuitous, uncomfortable nudity and unsexy, generally unpleasant sex. It will not be something you wanted to see.

Overall, life seems like an unpleasant journey here, which raises questions about why you would want to watch this show; life is hard enough without vicariously living through people whose lives are terrible.

But there are bright spots. Some of them are subtle; the show is clearly, though quietly, cultivating a theme of entrepreneurship that I expect will become more prominent as it goes on, essentially acting as a source of hope for the characters in the future.

Maggie Gyllenhaal’s prostitute character is more interesting than the average prostitute here, forming another reason to watch.

Most importantly, the writing is deep and connected to reality. It operates at the level you would expect from the people who brought you “The Wire.”

The characters’ lives are terrible, yes. But they feel like lost souls, and one can’t help but hope they find some sort of redemption or future that makes all of their trials worthwhile.

I could see this show becoming depressing, so I’m still deciding whether to continue watching.

My grade: B+

Find my video review of this episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YBwahnxRTY