The Deuce Does the '80s and Times Square Gets Gentrified

Screenshot: YouTube (HBO)

The Deuce was always meant to last only three seasons, each chronicling a snapshot of Times Square as it evolved—or devolved depending on your perspective—over the course of the 1960s, ’70s, and in the coming edition, the ’80s. Focusing primarily on sex work and the burgeoning pornography industry amid a backdrop of corrupt cops, Koch, and huge cultural shifts, the show is mostly directed by women and applies the exhaustive eye for detail, down to the set, that is hallmark for co-creators David Simon and George Pelecanos.

Last season saw Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Candy transform her job in street sex work into a career as a visionary pornography director, while Margarita Levieva, as Abby, got turned on to punk and the burgeoning feminist movement. (James Franco is also in this show, I watch it in spite of him.)

In the trailer for The Deuce’s final season, the porn industry is having yet another revolution—the VHS cassette—and a shot of a Times Square “rehabilitation” project is juxtaposed with another unfortunate development, hair metal. (Emily Meade’s Lori Madison appears to have parlayed her career as a porn superstar into a video model, which honestly seems like a downgrade.) From the short clips we get, Candy seems to still be directing, and Abby is maybe finally dumping her boyfriend (one of James Franco’s terrible characters) for a woman. Most strikingly, there’s a short clip of a protest that signals this season will delve into the AIDS crisis, which show devotees knew was coming—main character Paul, played by Chris Coy, spent much of the ’70s season hooking up with random men, including an ominously filmed scene in which he has a threesome in an alley, which didn’t impart judgment but seemed to allude to the coming epidemic.

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The Deuce is back September 9; I anticipate the wigs with trepidation.

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