Column the couch reporters: atmosphere and sex instead of action

"The Deuce" tells of the rise of the porn industry in 1970s New York. The plot is not the main focus.

James Franco in a double role: here as a nice bartender Photo: HBO

What times those were, when the cities were still so beautifully mangy and filthy, and even the sex was still really dirty. Many books and films have appeared in recent years celebrating the (West) Berlin of the 1970s and 80s. In Oskar Roehler’s "Mein Leben als Affenarsch"/"Death to the Hippies! Long live the punk!" the hero earns his money by wiping the floods of sperm off the windows in a peep show at the zoo.

That was probably before this drastic decline in the sperm count of men. You can also see something like this in the HBO series "The Deuce", at a porn shoot of the prostitute Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal). It then turns out that the trick here is cold potato soup made from canned goods.

Forty-deuce was once slang for the peep shows on 42nd Street in Manhattan when they still existed. Since the movie "A Most Violent Year," we’ve known that New York’s decline as the number one metropolis of violence reached its, well, peak in 1981. Five years after "Taxi Driver" De Niro wanted to take the beautiful Cybill Shepherd on their first date to the porn cinema.

So "The Deuce" is now to tell (in eight episodes – but second season already ordered) of the rise of the porn industry. Steaming garbage lies decoratively on the asphalt. The women wear short skirts, if at all, and the men wide porno beams. James Franco in a double role as a nice bartender and his gambling twin brother. Because of the wide porno beams, you have to look closely to tell them apart.

Atmosphere, dialogue, music, prostitutes, cars and sex.

The best thing about the series: the creators don’t care much about advancing a plot. The creators, David Simon, George Pelecanos and Richard Price, all wrote on the over-series "The Wire"; Simon also on "Show Me A Hero" and Price on "The Night Of". So instead of plot: atmosphere. Dialogues. Music. Prostitutes. Cars. Pimps. Cops. Mafiosi. A journalist who looks like Angela Davis. A student who drops out of college, and sex, of course.

Arte has already shown a documentary about the very last porn cinema in Manhattan, and Berlin no longer even tolerates Beate Uhse at the zoo. Sex stores today are eco-friendly and vegan like the one on Mehringdamm: "Bring your mother." That’s how far it’s come. The only thing that will help is the next episode: "The Deuce."

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