HBO The Deuce Season 2 Episode 2 review: As the peep shows take center stage, Candy finds inspiration

'There's an Art to This' serves as a transition from the time porn started peaking to 1977 when it flourished. There's ambitions crowning and frustrations bubbling on 'The Deuce'

                            HBO The Deuce Season 2 Episode 2 review: As the peep shows take center stage, Candy finds inspiration

We are just into the second episode of 'The Deuce' in season two of the TV drama series and things are already starting to fall apart for our friends in the business. Episode two lays the foundation for the downfall that is to come slowly. We know one thing for sure - the connections that were made in season one have sort of turned into a hierarchical order for the people running The Deuce. Ironically, the ones on the top of the food chain are the most fragile. The network is slowly growing denser and more complex at the same time - the times have changed from when it was just hookers on the street. The exploitation is just as severe but disguised under the veil of stardom. 

Maggie Gyllenhaal as Candy in 'The Deuce' (HBO)
Maggie Gyllenhaal as Candy in 'The Deuce' (HBO)

There is frustration simmering beneath the surface. Seeing that this is a money-minting business, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Since the mobsters have a hold over everything, they need to be careful - a little complacency on their side and they open a huge door for other low lives to take over. Rudy Pipilo (played by Michael Rispoli), for one, needs to keep an eye out. He may be making money right now but if he doesn't get his ammunition in place it could be the end for him.

The tables have turned for the pimps. In season one, they were the ones calling the shots, but now, they have been pushed to the lower rungs in the power structure and they feel taken advantage of - imagine that! Their sense of control has been stripped away and they aren't the service providers anymore. If one needs a kitty, there's plenty of places to go. When Larry (Gbenga Akinnagbe) lands on his face at the bus stop trying to recruit Brenda, we know that things have really changed.  


Meanwhile, Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is still trying to get Harvey (David Krumholtz) to make some "artistic" films. Candy, who's a director now is seen time and time again, trying to sneak in women's stories in her films. Be it the last episode where her orgasm journey flick gets stubbed or this one where she says that she's sick of rabbis and priests, her sense of frustration with the current porn scenario is building - and is pretty evident. She is looking to hone her craft more than ever -  and Genevieve Fury (Dagmara Dominczyk), enters the scene as her gift from God. There's a chance that she will go on her own path soon judging from the actual inspiration for her character. 

Candy, the ever-ambitious independent hooker who was the first to see beyond the sex in porn, is based on a couple of real women.

The character was a mix of porn star and director late Candida Royalle and a prostitute who was a regular at the Square. She also bartended at the Tin Pan Alley bar that was owned by the real-life inspiration for Vincent's character. Royalle is a legend in the history of female-centric porn - she made films that counteracted the typical misogynistic nature of sex films back then. Candy's determination and her vision is similar to Royalle's. Royalle passed away in 2015 at the age of 64. She had been suffering from ovarian cancer.

James Franco, meanwhile, continues to charm as Vinny. Vinny's character has always been of one of the nicer guys in the scene but we realize from this episode that he has and will perhaps always be a man with a bunch of promises. As he takes Abby (Margarita Levieva) to Coney Island, he paints a rosy picture of a life away from the peep shows. We know, from experience that he's not going anywhere - there's too much money involved. He wasn't the domestic type during his first marriage and he isn't one now. Abby, however, continues to believe in a future. 

Written by Richard Price and directed by Alex Hall, 'There’s an Art to This' serves as a transition from the time porn started emerging to the time that its peak. But, as history tells us, it's only downhill for these guys. 

 'The Deuce' airs on Sundays on HBO at 9 pm.


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