David Simon’s Porn-and-Crime Drama Might Be The New Prestige TV Show Of Your Dreams

Get familiar with the upcoming HBO series.

David Simon’s Porn-and-Crime Drama Might Be The New Prestige TV Show Of Your Dreams Gbenga Akinnagbe in HBO's The Deuce.   Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Here at The FADER, we do like to recommend content for you to consume every once in a while. And in that spirit, I now ask: have you been paying attention to HBO's The Deuce? The latest addition to the ever-swelling annals of Peak TV doesn't premiere until September 10, but a growing body of scholarship now suggests that it has the potential to be a banger.

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The show was co-created by David Simon and the elite crime novelist George Pelecanos; Richard Price, another crime novelist HOF'er (Clockers! Lush Life!), is a credited writer. All three first worked together on The Wire, and they're not the only alums. While The Deuce's best-known names are James Franco (playing twin brothers) (both mustachioed) (please keep reading) and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the sprawling supporting cast includes Method Man, Lawrence Gilliard Jr., and Gbenga Akinnagbe (or, respectively, Cheese, D'Angelo Barksdale, and Chris Partlow). And there is the mob and there are drugs and there is corruption and betrayal and institutions failing.

David Simon’s Porn-and-Crime Drama Might Be The New Prestige TV Show Of Your Dreams Lawrence Gilliard Jr. in HBO's The Deuce.   Paul Schiraldi/HBO

Back in 2014, I interviewed David Simon for Grantland. At the time he was working on the miniseries Show Me A Hero and still somewhat smarting off the soft responses to his two post-Wire projects, Generation Kill and Treme. “Why am I interested in recon marines in an unpopular war? Why am I interested in musicians in a dystopian and damaged city?” he told me.

He explained that he'd had a rough go-of-it with HBO of late, and rattled off stalled projects with the network: one on the CIA in the 20th century, one on the Civil Rights movement, one on the Lincoln assassination. He explained the massive amount of work that goes into all of these projects that never see the light of day. "We’re not the people who go around with a trunkful of pilot scripts,” he said. “‘It’s a medical show! You don’t want a medical show? It’s a legal show! He’s gotta have a dog? OK, he’s got a dog! His partner’s an alien? OK, his partner’s an alien!’”

And then he mentioned the project that would become The Deuce, selling it as "a place that has gangsters and pimps and whores and nudity and violence — all of the currencies that we know work in television.” Simon meant it with a touch of cynicism: he was saying that, of all the projects he was pitching, the one with the best chance of survival would be the one with the familiarly exploitative stuff.

And he was right! First Show Me A Hero won critical acclaim and Golden Globes and reminded a feckless nation just how good Simon can be. Then HBO backed up the Brinks truck and let him make his big, boisterous, expensive Times Square period piece. Come September, we'll see if all this early promise will be fulfilled. For now, let's all get cautiously excited for more TV, and more David Simon.

David Simon’s Porn-and-Crime Drama Might Be The New Prestige TV Show Of Your Dreams James Franco, Chris Coy, and James Franco again in HBO's The Deuce.   Paul Schiraldi/HBO
July 26, 2017
TV
David Simon’s Porn-and-Crime Drama Might Be The New Prestige TV Show Of Your Dreams