‘The Deuce’ reviews: Porn, crime, and James Franco playing twins in another acclaimed drama from creator of ‘The Wire’

Sex sells. But judging from its reviews, David Simon‘s new HBO drama series “The Deuce,” about the rise of the porn industry in 1970s New York City, is less interested in the sex than in the people buying, selling, and profiting off of it. That’s par for the course for the acclaimed writer and producer who was previously the mastermind behind other series and miniseries like “The Corner,” “The Wire,” “Treme,” “Generation Kill,” and “Show Me a Hero,” all of which took an in-depth look at social and political systems.

And the reviews for “The Deuce” look just as good as Simon’s previous projects. As of this writing it has a score of 87 on MetaCritic and a perfect 100% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s being described as “a worth heir” to “The Wire” and that its attention to detail “makes it art.” It stars James Franco in a “compelling” performance as twin brothers — Vincent and Frankie Martino, one a hardworking bar manager and the other a ne’er-do-well. His co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal is “frank,” “fearless,” and “exceptional” as Candy, an enterprising sex worker.

But will “The Deuce” make an awards impact? Simon won a pair of Emmys for writing and producing “The Corner” in 2000, but ever since, his shows have been notoriously underrepresented on the awards scene. “The Wire” earned just two Emmy nominations for writing despite being one of the most acclaimed shows of the 21st century, and his follow-ups “Treme” and “Show Me a Hero” also came up short for the most part, though “Treme” did earn a Best Miniseries Emmy bid for its shortened last season, and “Show Me a Hero” won a Golden Globe for its star, Oscar Isaac.

At the very least, having Oscar and Emmy nominated actors Franco and Gyllenhaal at the forefront might give Simon a leg up this time around. Check out some of the reviews for “The Deuce” below, and discuss this and more with your fellow TV fans in our forums.

Sonia Saraiya (Variety): “‘The Deuce’ is a worthy heir to the sprawling sociopolitics of ‘The Wire.’ Indeed, it’s the closest thing to ‘The Wire’ that Simon has produced in the 15 years since that show debuted — an immersive drama of life in a city, centered on the bleeding edge where crime meets culture.”

Ellen Gray (Philadelphia Daily News): “Gyllenhaal delivers a frank, fearless performance as Eileen ‘Candy’ Merrell, another character with family obligations who’s not satisfied with her place in the local economy … Nothing about ‘The Deuce’ glamorizes prostitution or porn. If anyone’s objectified, it’s the johns.”

Allison Keener (Collider): “Those connections are secondary to getting to know the major players like ‘Candy’ (the exceptional Maggie Gyllenhaal), a rare sex worker without a pimp, who aspires to something more; Vincent Martino (a compelling James Franco, who also plays Vinnie’s scummy brother Frankie), a hardworking bar manager who becomes embroiled with the Mob.”

James Poniewozik (New York Times): “Each of Mr. Simon’s works is ultimately about systems: people of different classes, races and levels of power, whose choices (or lack thereof) define an economy and a society. That macro idea makes ‘The Deuce’ smart. Its micro detail — a Studs Terkelesque catalog of the million ways to chase a hustle — makes it art.”

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