With the latest season of Games of Thrones coming to an end and with the final season not coming until next fall at the earliest, we’re all in desperate need of a new Sunday night fixation as the final hours of the weekend dwindle away and the Sunday Scaries consume us.
And as HBO has done seemingly since the beginning of time, they have provided us with a new sanctuary to comfort us when Sunday Night Football somehow inevitably ends in a blowout.
That new fixation is brought to you by David Simon and George Pelecanos (The Wire) with the help of Richard Price and a host of other talented minds. Simon from Baltimore, Pelecanos from D.C. and Price from New York bring multiple lifetimes worth of gritty crime story telling with complimentary styles that help mold a story that pulls you directly into 1971 New York City.
The Deuce stars James Franco as twins, Vincent and Frankie Martino, one a hardworking barman trying to keep his family afloat and the other a compulsive gambler with the mob in tow.
Now, before you get turned off by a drama starring two James Francos, I watched the first episode and am shocked to say he plays the fuck out of these roles. This isn’t Why Him? or Pineapple Express aloof, weird James Franco, this is James Franco throwing 100 mph fastballs for 87 minutes.
Maggie Gyllenhaal may be the only other name you recognize (which for me I know created another reservation heading into the premiere) as a prostitute named Candy, but other recognizable faces populate the cast and new faces that will infatuate you with a quickness.
Common descriptions discuss the show as an examination of the underbelly of New York City and the first episode dives into prostitution, pimps, gambling, the mafia and then some to the point where it no longer feels like a subculture of the city at that time, but just the city.
Simon and Pelecanos have an unparalleled ability to remove the notion of black and white or good and evil in their work. They show people from all sides from their own vantage points and examine how very few people ever feel like they’re doing wrong and to them their motivations are often good, even if that’s not the perception from the outside.
The first episode shows the good and bad side of characters, whether its the compassionate side of a pimp and the violent or a good man and his infidelity, it has a way of rounding out individuals and leaving us unable to put them in the conventional boxes.
And that’s what makes this show fascinating aside from the backdrop being the world’s greatest city in one of the world’s most interesting times, it creates equally interesting participants.
The performances and visuals make for a thoroughly enjoyable watch and much of that can be attributed to the willingness to bring in the creative minds to best explore each detail of the story.
Below is The Ringer’s The Watch podcast where hosts, Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald, sat down with Pelecanos to discuss to the show and some behind the scenes details that serves as the perfect primer before sitting down with the first episode:
And the best part about the opening episode of The Deuce is a result of the longstanding relationship HBO has with the creators and trust that allows. It spares the need for that “holy shit” moment in the form of a last second cliffhanger to keep us watching, Simon and Pelecanos have the freedom to tell the story they want to tell and that enables them to craft a story that feels open-ended in a way that is almost forgotten on television now.
So, this weekend after your fill of football, settle in for you new favorite Sunday night show and we can go on this adventure together, wherever it decides to take us.
Two Buttons Deep is a news & entertainment website based in upstate New York.
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