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Review: The Deuce

Set in the late 1960s David Simon's latest HBO series, The Deuce, explores the exploitation of sex workers in New York City. James Franco stars in the duel role of twin brothers, Vincent and Frankie Martino, Vincent a bar manager and Frankie a gambler with debts. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Candy a New York prostitute and mother. The opening 2 episodes recreate the seedy New York streets of the late sixties. Sex shows, prostitutes, gambling houses and pimps. For some the series may feel that the producers are crossing the line, with graphic sex and nudity. The Deuce is not family viewing. Though it is never gratuitous.

Vince (James Franco) is a small time bar manager in New York. He is a family man. His brother twin brother Frankie (James Franco) is his complete opposite and Vince is always pick up after his 23 minute older brother. With Gambling debts pilling high and Frankie out of town, its up to Vince to repay Frankie's debts. He works two jobs. He quits one and is forced to try to bring in business to a Korean Restaurant. Soon the Korean joint is hopping with men after Vince introduces Leotards for female staff.

Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) doesn't have a pimp. They beg her to take them on, but while she understands that sometimes things can go wrong with a man she refuses their so-called protection. One of the street girls, Darlene (Dominique Fishback) finds out that a video featuring her is available on sale, though she was assured that it was for private use only. Candy tells the girls that those movies are resold and your out of money as the filmmaker (a possibly your pimp) are getting cash for copies.

Darlene and another prostitute demand their movies back. Darlene asks how much he's getting for them, he says 25 dollars and she resells one to him for 10 dollars. Meanwhile, Candy is asked by another girl to take her place in a porno, reluctantly Candy agrees. She starts asking about lights and equipment as she begins to consider pornography production.

The first two episodes give you an introduction to characters that crossover. As Vince begins business relationships with a gangster, Candy is beginning to consider her new business.

The producers have created a self-contained world that allows for characters to branch into other stories about their lives. Candy has a son living in the suburbs with her mother, Vince has left his wife and children. Each of the prostitutes are under the control of their aggressive pimps.

They have captured the end of the sixties and the start of the seventies, in a mix of exploitation, corruption and dark underbelly of sex work.

The series began on HBO's online service on August 25th and the First episode air last night on HBO, Sunday 10 September, 2017. The series starts on Sky Atlantic on September 26.