From ‘The Wire ‘to ‘The Deuce’: Discussing HBO's Newest Series

Stephen A. Crockett and Yesha Callahan

 

Excerpt from TheRoot.com. Read the rest of the article here.

 

In an early opening scene of The Deuce, premiering on HBO Sunday night, C.C. (Gary Carr) a smooth-talking, freshly-permed and curled pinstripe suit spots a fresh-faced white-girl to spit that talk. He’s in a bus station in New York City in 1971 and pimping is still a viable living for a black man.

 

“Excuse me baby, this your first time in New York?”

 

“Does it show?” the fresh-faced white girl says.

 

“A little, yeah, but everyone here came from somewhere else.”

 

“From Minnesota,” she says. “I need to find a place to stay.”

 

“You can’t be making those kinds of decisions until you get some food in your stomach. Let me buy you breakfast, I know a spot that serves it all day. It’s just breakfast that’s all, you can keep me company. C.C. doesn’t like to eat alone.”

 

And just like that she’s in the back of a gold Cadillac with a man she barely knows inching closer to a life she never saw for herself.

 

And it dawns on me: David Simon and George Pelecanos, the creators of The Deuce, are pimps too. They aren’t exploiting us, though, but they seduce us with imagery and language until we too are along for the ride.

 

The Deuce is an eight-episode look at the sex industry and the corruption of the NYPD, before it became a billion-dollar business, and much like The Wire before it, all of the players involved from Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and his bushy mutton chops side burns, to Maggie Gyllenhaal’s gentle touch as prostitute Eileen “Candy” Merrell are genuinely taking us into the once real and now imagined gritty piss-stench of New York Time’s Square and the moment right before sex and the business of selling sex became as natural as f***king.

 

 

The Root chatted with Simon, Pelecanos and actor Lawrence Gillard Jr. to find out why authentic storytelling is so important, how the full-frontal nudity in this story isn’t gratuitous, and why fans of The Wire will love this show even if D’Angelo Barksdale Gillard is playing a cop.

 

The Root: How did it feel to work with David Simon again?

 

Lawrence Gillard: It’s great. I’m totally spoiled working with these guys. After doing The Wire, I got a lot of offers to do a lot of stuff. Just working on a show like that, the writing is so amazing and the characters are so true, and you want that feeling all the time. It feels great to be back on HBO and it feels great to be back working with this team, because they want to tell stories that, at the end of the day, they’re historical and educational. And through their stories, the team always strives to educate and teach.

 

The Root: David, can you talk a little about the importance of language and how that plays into telling what feels like a really authentic portrayal of life back then?

 

David Simon: At a certain point we’re making sh*t up, because they [the characters] are fictional. And, even though we went with a pair of twin brothers and a brother-in-law, we mangled up their stories; we combined it with other things we know of the industry, and other stories, and I think the thing that I would compare it to is if you know the novels of E.L. Doctrow where he’ll take a historical moment and he’ll weave the real into his fictional narrative, that’s kind of our trick.

 

Now once you are in a historical place you are trying to write dialogue that is consistent with whatever year you are in and it’s tricky because the American language moves so fast…..I grew up in a suburb right outside D.C. and was 11-years-old in 1971 and I have no idea how close we are approximating an 8th Ave pimp in that same year but I know that we read as much as we could and we’ve interviewed people and we watched every documentary we could get our hands on….but you’re just doing the best can.

 

George Pelecanos: David is a former reporter so he’s obsessed with getting the details right and I am too as a novelist. All of my books are set in D.C. and although my books are available for anybody, I write my books for Washingtonians and both David and I live in fear of somebody saying this is bullsh*t. So we really work hard on it and these scripts just don’t get written, they go through many iterations; line by line. Me and David are there on set changing dialogue on the spot. I would be embarrassed if something was inauthentic, but you are writing drama so you have to serve the story, but it’s always about the characters.

 

Excerpt from TheRoot.com. Read the rest of the article here.

 

The Deuce airs on HBO Sundays at 9 p.m.

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