Season two of The Deuce, which accounts the ascent of sex entertainment and how the multibillion-dollar industry changed American culture, is presently accessible to gorge solitary on Showmax in Africa.
Here are five different ways the Golden Globe-nominated HBO series has reexamined itself this season:
1. IT’S FIVE YEARS LATER
The Deuce picks up in 1977. “We are at the peak moment of the most liberated people in American time and history,” says actor Chris Coy, who plays Paul. “Just free and open and accepting.
What a life…” It’s an era that’s been called ‘The Golden Age of Pornography.’ “A movie like Deep Throat came along, which was the first mainstream porn film, and that was the advent of porn chic, where everyone in America was suddenly watching porn in some kind of way, either through magazines or films,” says co-creator George Pelecanos (The Wire).,,,,,
“This is the moment when it genuinely seemed for the first time that hardcore pornography was going to become mainstreamed into American culture and psyche,” says co-creator David Simon (The Wire). “And in a very real sense that would happen to a profound degree, though not in the ways that our protagonists once imagined.”
2. THE POWER DYNAMICS HAVE CHANGED
With sex work increasingly moving indoors, the pimps are not as powerful as they were five years ago.
“The pimps were so integral to the sex work along 8th Avenue but they’re being margined out,” says David. “We’re right at the cusp of that moment where pagers were about to become elemental to society. Once you can reach people off the street, the pimp is about to become obsolete.”
“The other thing that was changing for the performers was you could actually become famous,” says David. “Performers became known by their names. If you compare that to the brown paper bag pornography of a generation earlier, that’s really a remarkable thing.”
The porn industry was even holding its own Oscars, with awards for the likes of Best Actor and Best Actress. “We’re at the point in American pornography where it was starting to dress itself in normalcy,” says David. “The people who were engaged in it wanted to validate what they were doing and themselves and what they were creating so they gave out their own awards.”
3. FEMINIST PORN IS EMERGING
“We’re in a period in the 70s where women have been sexually liberated and women are feminist and women can say yes to sex but they can’t yet say no,” says writer Stephani DeLuca. Talking about Eileen ‘Candy’ Merrell, a prostitute turned pornographer played by Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart), she says, “Candy is very much interested in expressing that through her art. She knows what she wants to do. She wants to shift the paradigm a little bit from this male-centric pornography and talk about female pleasure.”
The Deuce also taps into the current conversations about #metoo and misogyny. “That’s what we’re talking about in this show: the women are at the bottom of the food chain, both in labour and socially,” says George.
Not that that always stops them: as Maggie says, “Like I think women always have, we find a way, we do our best to get the things we need. Candy’s not holier-than-thou. Candy’s like, ‘Gotta figure out how to live in this misogynic world,’ just like all of us have to do. I think she’s just exhausted and of course so disappointed, just like we all are when the misogyny in the world around us just becomes really clear, but she also thinks: ‘I’m going to make my fucking movie.’”
4. NOW STARRING LUKE KIRBY
Luke Kirby (Rectify, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel) joins the cast as a series regular this season as Gene Goldman, an incoming Koch administration official bent on reform. Jamie Neumann (The Looming Tower) also joins the cast as Ashley, a former sex worker turned activist. Guest stars include photographer Nan Goldin, Zoe Kazan (The Big Sick), Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid), Mustafa Shakir (Marvel’s Luke Cage), and Cliff ‘Method Man’ Smith (8 Mile).
5. THE DEUCE HIRED AND ‘INTIMACY CO-ORDINATOR’
The Deuce was one of the first series post #metoo to hire an intimacy co-ordinator, Alicia Rodis, to “help implement best practices to address scenes of intimacy in a safe and effective manner.”
As Vogue wrote. “It’s the kind of job that seems ridiculous, until you think about it for two seconds. Then you wonder why it’s taken so long to become a thing.”
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: