“The Deuce” thoughts, Season One, Episode Four: “I See Money”

it’s not the story’s bleakness that’s the problem — a show about the desperately impoverished and routinely victimized has every right to be dour. It’s the drab story-telling that rankles here. Every scene lands with a thud, a stepping stone toward the next plot or character beat. You can rattle off descriptions without once needing to dig for layers of meaning: “Paul has dinner with his wealthy lawyer boyfriend, who’s nervous about being outed.” “Darlene shows Abby how to mend a broken shoe, a practical skill the slumming rich girl has never needed to learn.” “The mob beats a construction worker who wasn’t playing ball to keep his coworkers in line.” Quick: Can you think of a single scene in this show that would require more than one sentence to sum up?

I reviewed this week’s episode of The Deuce for Rolling Stone. It suffers from the exact problem the Evil Editor diagnosed in the awful fifth season of The Wire: “If you leave everything in, soon you’ve got nothing.” Basically, it’s juggling so many characters that it has no time to do anything complex with any of them, except maybe Candy, who deserves way more time. The fact that there are two James Francos crammed into this thing says a lot.

Tags: , , , ,