The Deuce, HBO’s alluring new drama, follows the evolution of the porn industry in seedy 1970s New York. The series, which begins its 8-episode run September 10, takes viewers on a retrospective tour of the sex trade in '70s Manhattan and Brooklyn. As the story unfolds, the point-of-view shifts between the lives of a handful of tastemakers in early porn production and prostitution.
The show's creators, David Simon and George Pelecanos (The Wire), found inspiration for The Deuce in the lives of brothers Vincent and Frankie Martino (both played by James Franco). In 1971, the duo ran a bar in Times Square that served as a front for the mafia as well as a hub for the city's lucrative sex industry.
The show skillfully balances between two polar genres: television and pornography. Traditionally, sex-centric content often objectifies female bodies to cater to a male audience. Thankfully, Simon and Pelecanos rejected the conventions of the porn genre and wove compelling female characters throughout the narrative. To bring the roles to life, the creators cast Maggie Gyllenhaal, who also produced, Margarita Levieva, Dominique Fishback, Emily Meade, Kayla Foster, Pernell Walker and Natalie Paul, and hired Michelle MacLaren (Breaking Bad) to direct the pilot.
Here’s everything we know about the women behind The Deuce:
Eileen "Candy" Merrell (Maggie Gyllenhaal)
Eileen (aka Candy) is her own kind of hustler. Without a pimp for protection, she needs to work harder and be more careful than her fellow sex workers. Her sense of adventure reveals a passion previously hidden, but once it emerges she'll stop at nothing in pursuit of her dream.
Abigail Parker (Margarita Levieva)
A student of literature at New York University, Abby comes from a wealthy Connecticut family and revels in her newfound freedom in the city. Bold, brave and on the cusp of change, she brings an intellectual, brazen attitude to the cast as she navigates life in New York.
Sandra Washington (Natalie Paul)
Sandra, a determined New York journalist, is interested in the women of the Deuce. She wants to know why they allow men to mistreat them and purposefully becomes immersed in their world. What she finds spurs a riveting story of its own.
Darlene (Dominique Fishback)
Though she's one of the younger women working the Deuce, Darlene is street wise and knows how to keep her customers satisfied. She also knows what to say to appease her pimp Larry Brown (Gbenga Akinnagbe), one of the more volatile of the bunch.
Lori (Emily Meade)
Fresh off the bus to New York, Lori is mistaken by pimp C.C. (Gary Carr) for an innocent country girl—but she quickly reveals herself to be ready to work the streets of the Deuce. C.C., however, has bigger plans for her.
Thunder Thighs (Pernell Walker)
Thunder Thighs (aka Ruby) has been working the streets for a while now. She knows her place in the world of the Deuce, accepting that not every man can appreciate her attributes.
Like all HBO shows, half the fun of watching The Deuce is witnessing the meticulous recreation of 1970s New York. From the vintage costumes to the fluorescent marquees, the show’s production designers painstakingly created a setting that’s faithful to the era. Tune in to HBO on Sundays at 9:00 p.m., and watch Eileen, Abby, Darlene, Lori, Ruby and Sandra navigate the Deuce.