The Deuce: “Show and Prove” Season 1 Episode 2 Review

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For most of “Show and Prove,” The Deuce is still getting us immersed in its setting. The more it does so, the more wonderful and thrilling 1970s Times Square becomes. It’s the wild, wild west grounded in the grime and grit of New York City, and this episode sees a few characters exploring new frontiers.

It was always said that The Deuce was to document the rise of the porn industry, and that’s the big draw for “Show and Prove,” especially since its Candy, the pilot’s breakout character, who’s getting involved in more ways than one. Her story in this second entry explores her role as an absent mother, better for her daughter in some ways and worse in others. But as an opportunity arises for her to make some extra cash by doing what she normally does, just in front of a camera, Candy is quick to say yes. But her curiosity while filming the scene is undeniably endearing. She’s more game than her partner, but also takes note of all the lighting equipment and questions a one of the people on set about her job. Coming off of the show’s initial premise, Candy striving to become a porn director, not just a porn star, is an exciting twist, mostly because just in these first two episodes Gyllenhaal has done such a wonderful job drawing us into Candy.

But she’s not the only one exploring new ventures. Vincent, clearly in deep with some shady figures, is given a chance to run an old, practically abandoned watering hole into Times Square’s newest casual nightlife hit. Like Candy, Vincent excitement at this new prospect, one that he believes will better his life and that of his family, is genuinely endearing. The Deuce‘s success so far largely takes shape from giving people potential in their harsh climate, a climate we know to be better almost 50 years later.

As a side note, the episode also gives us a slightly better idea of what Vincent and Frankie’s relationship is like. Frankie might be a little harder around the edges, but they share a brotherly bond that falls in line with the rest of the episode’s successes.

Naturally, however, The Deuce has yet to fully flesh out the rest of its sprawling cast. A lot of “Show and Prove” inches us toward an ensemble entirely worth emotional investment, but for the time being, the show is still a bit slow. At least until Larry and Lori run into some trouble with a man pretending to be an undercover cop looking to rape Lori. Larry kills him because he can seemingly get away with it in this specific time and place. Or at least he thinks he can. Larry is a man who needs to be in control, and watching him navigate this in future episodes could test that. Or this event could just be a moment of character building. He did save Lori, after all.

Overall, this second episode marks a slight improvement over the effect but slow 90-minute pilot. Working in the normal 60-minute runtime really makes The Deuce feel tighter, even if it still needs time to let things develop. But using this entry to construct ambitions and arcs for the two lead characters is a nice start to the show hopefully earning its wings, albeit dirty ones. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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