The Pitch: You always know things are going to go to shit for a character when he’s snorting coke one minute into a new season. It’s practically universal cinematic code for, “This bloke thinks he’s having a party, but you just wait and see, dear audience.” Frankie Martino (one of two twin brothers played by James Franco) is no rookie to lighting the candle at both ends, however. He’s back to the Deuce, and this year he’s dipping his toes into amateur porn. Hey, it’s 1985 and tastes are shifting … younger.
Twin brother Vinnie (also played by Franco) is still running the bustling midtown bar, The High Hat. In the first episode, “The Camera Loves You”, he and longtime partner Abby (Margarita Levieva) reflect on development in the area. But business is still good enough — especially compared to other venues on The Deuce (ICYMI: Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, 42nd Street in Manhattan was often referred to as “Forty Deuce).”
In its third season and final season, intersectionality is key for HBO’s The Deuce, even though the term wouldn’t be coined for another four years. We see not two, not three, but often five or six angles colliding in the storytelling: We see cops enforcing NYC’s padlock law by arresting prostitutes and bartenders while simultaneously displacing these folks via shady real estate deals. We see the prostitutes diverging: some join neighborhood protests, chanting, “Porn is violence. Violence is porn,” while others move onto porn gladly, finding the trade safer than selling tricks on the street.
But the promise of Season 3, at least from the first three episodes, seems to be a real, nonjudgmental look at the AIDS scare: be it police officers and girls on the street, male and female, black and white, queer and straight, Wall Street, and 42nd street. The fear is everywhere.