What Was Times Square Really Like in 1970? Deuce Gives the Unflinching Details
Emmy winner David Simon, who also teamed up with Deuce co-creator George Pelecanos on the acclaimed series The Wire and Treme, calls their newest unflinching drama — which begins Sunday, Sept. 10 at 9/8c — “a critique of market capitalism and the marginalization of the people who labor.” Which, in this case, are the pimps, hookers, bar workers, hamstrung cops and other seeking souls who populated Times Square (“the deuce” is local speak for 42nd Street) in the gritty early ’70s.
James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who also produce, top-line a talented and expansive cast, Franco playing twin brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino — the former a barkeep lured into fronting for the mob, the latter a petty con — and Gyllenhaal fearless and rending as Candy, a pimpless streetwalker trying to craft a better life for herself and her son. Pelecanos says he and Simon were approached by the owner of a Times Square hot spot, who regaled them with stories of the colorful cast of characters who populated his watering hole during the time, none of whom really got their happily ever after.
In keeping with its pedigree, The Deuce is a well-crafted character study, too. But make no mistake — its unvarnished representation of the realities and brutalities of the sex industry means your kids must be tucked in when you tune in. “If it turned out like Pretty Woman and we were being coy about what prostitution is and what sexual quantification is, that would be bad,” Simon said. “And if it was prurient — if we were somehow making porn to critique porn — that would also be dishonest. We stayed on the fence as best we could.”