The idea of watching two James Francos talking to one another in Sky Atlantic's new porn drama may sound unbearable, but HBO's The Deuce has been produced by the brilliantly talented David Simon of The Wire and directed by Breaking Bad’s Michelle MacLaren and has been lauded as an aggressive ‘antidote’ to mainstream depictions of prostitution. It is full of soft, humanising interactions. Even Franco can't escape shining in this 70s, stereotype-debunking exposé.
We're introduced to a pride of scantily dressed ladies and their bombastic pimps, none of whom behave as expected. There's the new girl from out of town (Emily Meade) who looks sweet, soft and naive, but has an edge to her – although it's not as sharp as she thinks.
It's a tough world out there. A curly-haired prostitute (Maggie Gyllenhaal) attempts to go it alone, declaring: 'the only person who will make money off this fanny is me'. She finds herself having to explain to young teenage boys why she can't provide him with two organisms for the price of one.
But HBO’s new drama presents a different spin on this tired genre. The fetishisation of the sex industry has long been a cornerstone of public entertainment. We're used to ‘gritty’ exposés of the world’s oldest profession that, whilst professing to show us the depravity of the situation, actually offer voyeuristic pleasure in the abuse of women.
Still honest, still fizzling with misogyny and politics which will leave us questioning how far we have come, but The Deuce leads us gently into the seedy underbelly and reminds us how human we all are. Apart from James Franco, obviously. He's the worst.
The Deuce airs on Sky Atlantic at 10pm on 26 September.
|What||The Deuce, Sky Atlantic review|
|Where||Sky Atlantic | MAP|
26 Sep 17 – 30 Nov 17, 10:00 PM – 11:30 PM