Monday, September 9, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Deuce' - Vincent and Candy Reckon With Their Places in an Ever-Changing World in 'The Camera Loves You'

HBO's The Deuce - Episode 3.01 "The Camera Loves You"

On the eve of 1985, a worn-out Vincent reconnects with his ex-wife Andrea as his open relationship with Abby grows more distant. Candy and Harvey travel to Las Vegas for an adult film convention where they disagree on how to navigate a fast-changing future. Fresh out of rehab in Los Angeles, Lori is put back to work. Alston makes a very specific request of Goldman in their quest to revitalize Midtown. Now a bartender at the Hi-Hat, Loretta becomes an active member of Women Against Pornography.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the season premiere of HBO's The Deuce.

"The Camera Loves You" was written by David Simon & George Pelecanos and directed by Alex Hall

Early on, Vincent yearns for a time when the Deuce used to be seen as respectable. Abby counters that such a time never actually existed. The neighborhood may constantly be changing. People from downtown look at the neighborhood eagerly envisioning a massive clean-up effort. And yet, it has only gotten more brutal. It was always a vicious and abusive world. It was once one defined by prostitution and pimps. And now, those characters have either been killed off or moved inside for new elements of the sex trade or the neighborhood. It's almost as if the show itself is going through gentrification. Many characters of color have struggled in this world and its brutal realities. The show states bluntly that it is so often minority communities that face the most abuses of this world. No one is looking out for their best interests. And so, it doesn't matter to the people in charge that the crime rates have been increasing and there are people dying on the streets. That has always been present. It now presents as a new threat to the gay community. The story jumps ahead to the end of 1984. It's a time when the AIDS crisis is consuming New York City leaving everyone in panic over this mysterious disease. It has seriously hampered Paul and Rudy's businesses. Paul genuinely wants people to be safe. And yet, the people coming to his club don't want to be lectured or told what to do. Meanwhile, his partner Todd is covering up the lesions that are now appearing on his face. Bobby fears that he too may have contracted the disease because of the numerous affairs he has had over the years. Sure, he still succumbs to that temptation. He is in the bathroom stall at Club 366 during New Year's Eve having sex. He isn't going to change his behavior at all. It's just a fear that is now a pressing concern for him. The world is constantly changing. This is a crisis no one thought about before. And now, there is the urgency to do so. Paul and Todd embrace the love that they have. However, the world may simply be trying to move on to bigger and better things. That plays as the brutal reality of life. Candy can make the argument that television didn't kill the movie business. And yet, the accessibility of video has revolutionized the porn industry. It may no longer be profitable for Harvey to continue producing Candy's auteur films. She has such a proud and fierce perspective. She wants to shine a light on sex through the feminist lens. She doesn't concern herself with the activist group that Loretta has joined attacking the violence of porn and how that has contributed to the decay of society. In fact, the folks from downtown still see this as a neighborhood being reborn. Their redevelopment projects are starting to make an impact. The construction is ongoing. It's a world constantly influx. As such, people have to ponder what their place will be in the new world. Candy and Vincent may still share a final drink as the ball drops to welcome in a new year. They are still thriving in this world. They haven't abandoned it or been forced to leave. It was rewarding to see some people escape the Deuce. Darlene deserved that. But Lori is still trapped in an abusive cycle out in Los Angeles where she spends some time in rehab only to be right back to snorting cocaine shortly after being released. That's her current reality. Meanwhile, Candy has to accept that her business model may no longer be profitable for Harvey. She doesn't want to compromise her values. And yet, her world is changing on every front. Her mom is dying and no one has heard from her son in awhile. Meanwhile, she meets a nice guy named Hank at 366. He's a rich man clearly not from this world. But this represents the changing nature of the environment. New things are constructed that push away the old. Businesses and technology are constantly evolving. The power to adapt is so crucial. Many of these characters have survived for so long because of their ability to do so. They have avoided the danger that comes from the crime and depravity of this world. But they have been incredibly lucky too. Sometimes they create that luck for themselves. Other times, the violence just casually misses them. Right now, there may be some sense of optimism to the proceedings. But that change is good for some while being incredibly destructive to others because it runs the risk of them seeming irrelevant. That could thus function as the death of the truly creative even in a world where people don't want to discuss the truth at the heart of these seedy industries. That is a very resonant message that connects to so many aspects of life that still apply to this day.