The first trailer for David Simon and George Pelecanos’ The Deuce is here. Though a basic Google search will fill you in on what sounds like a promising premise — the rise of New York City’s porn scene and the seedy, salacious years of Times Square, with a pilot and finale directed by Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones regular Michelle MacLaren — there’s little in this clip that would help you guess that.
The trailer’s neon title cards broadcast the crucial selling point that the creators of The Wire are back. The footage shows off Maggie Gyllenhaal in her first full TV show, tons of ‘70s quilted leather outerwear, and, most importantly, twin mustachioed James Francos.
James Francos one and two are the centerpiece of a whole world of bizarre, period-piece facial hair, and the latest in what the paranoid could point out as a trend for HBO. After the heavily memed, derided, and thereby watched second season of True Detective, HBO seemed to lean into this dubious marketing tactic with The Young Pope. I’d argue that Jude Law’s 47-year-old Pope Pius XIII was the best new television character of last year, but he was also memed within an inch of his life.
I don’t have any proof that’s what HBO is doing here, but it feels like a deliberate choice to make a trailer that gives absolutely no indication to the story or substance of a series, and dedicates two-thirds of its runtime to letting famed public weirdo James Franco do this:
Franco is also an executive producer on the series, and he directed one episode. Sure, why not!
On a more serious note: during negotiations of her acting contract, Gyllenhaal insisted that she also be included as a producer, telling Indiewire, “I didn’t know if I could play a prostitute without some kind of guarantee that they wanted to use not just my body, but also my mind. I wanted to be a part of the storytelling and the conversation about what happens to this woman.” That’s pretty cool, and hopefully means the women on this show will be more central and nuanced than in some of HBO’s previous crown jewel dramas.
The Deuce premieres on September 10th, taking over the Sunday night time slot Game of Thrones will leave open after August 27th.