Critical Condition: The Deuce

The Deuce | SoHo, 1.00/8.30 Monday

➢ “HBO’S The Deuce is a period drama about the golden days of glory holes and the big bang of porn. It’s set in the early 1970s, when Nixon was screwing the nation and 42nd Street in New York City, a.k.a. ‘the Deuce,’ was America’s most notorious sexual supermarket — a glitzy-scuzzy underworld of prostitutes, drug dealers, and peep shows … Betcha can’t wait to get in bed with this show, right? And yet, while it may not be date-night TV, The Deuce is an absorbing, resonant chronicle about the evolution of dehumanising skin trades and the mainstreaming of adult entertainment.” — Entertainment Weekly.

➢ “The Deuce is a textbook demonstration of how to set up multiple character threads. But man, is there a lot of setup, and the porn story line — ostensibly the subject of the entire series — has barely started by the time the eight-episode first season ends. TV is full of dramas that take ages to become the thing they’re about … This is less a problem for The Deuce because it’s so rich with voice. This should be a lesson for peak-TV storytellers: Get the characters right first, and viewers will float you some credit for the plot.” — New York Times.

➢ “In many ways, The Deuce represents the logical and satisfying culmination of David Simon’s HBO journey from The Corner through The Wire and Treme. Long fascinated with the way that institutions grind down individuals and the citizenry, turning people and neighborhoods into statistics and commodities, Simon and co-creator George Pelecanos are able to use the New York City sex trade in the early 1970s to explore the exploitation of the human body itself.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

➢ “For all the drama of its plot, it consistently and gratifyingly goes small, letting us learn about its characters gradually and in relation to one another. With the same granular dedication to detail that they brought to The Wire, Simon and Pelecanos show us an entire gray-market economy through the eyes of its participants. It’s a triumph, and, better yet, a pleasure.” — Time.

➢ “The Deuce tells a wide-ranging story of exploitation, sexuality and gender in a not-so-distant historical era. But it is subtle: It’s four to six episodes in before the arcs become clear … A lot of storytelling is crammed into The Deuce — the regular and recurring cast fields nearly 40 characters, and it takes a minute to match rhythm with the cadence of each of their lives. But once you do, it’s a fascinating world: period but not nostalgic, lived in but not superficial. Maybe it has too many moving parts, but all the moving parts are a joy to look at.” — Variety.

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