“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Three: “The Principle Is All”

Despite the abundant charms of this episode, problems remain. Why is James Franco playing twins? Like, narratively speaking? It’s easy to understand stunt casting like this when it enables writers to depict two distinct personalities using a single actor, insinuating that they’re two competing aspects of human nature. That’s how Kyle MacLachlan’s Dale Cooper/Dougie Jones/Coop-elganger Twin Peaks trinity worked; it animated Ewan McGregor’s performances in Fargo‘s last season as well.

But Vinnie and Frankie are more like two peas in a pod than two sides of the same coin. They look alike, they sound alike, they groom their facial hair alike. They even work at the same place for the same mobster boss. In theory, Vincent’s way more responsible – working man, business owner, yadda yadda. He’s also more likable, able to get along with pimps, prostitutes, cops, mafiosi, straight waitresses, gay customers and even violent vagrants like this episode’s sinister breakout character Big Mike. But is the way he ran out on his wife and kids to make a new life for himself in Manhattan really any less reckless than his brother racking up gambling debts or busting open jukeboxes to steal their cash? On the flipside, is Frankie’s boyish charm really that different from his more straight-and-narrow brother’s people skills?

I reviewed this weekend’s episode of The Deuce for Rolling Stone. In the words of History of the World Part I, “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling…but nice.”

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