The Deuce: “Why Me?” Season 1 Episode 6 Review

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So far, The Deuce hasn’t quite found a way to merge character and plot. “Why Me?” makes a lot of major plot moves, but at the sacrifice of enriching character beats. This is a problem that occasionally plagued The Wire as well, providing further proof that The Deuce is little more than that show with a sex-fueled ’70s coat of paint. That’s not a bad thing to be, but it also makes the series a little less interesting.

“Why Me” covers the difficult ventures into new industries for Vincent, Frankie, and Candy. With Rudy ever impressed with Vincent’s skills as a businessman, things have to keep going over as smoothly as possible with the new location, and that means getting women in the booths for opening night. But unlike most previous episodes, it’s never really addressed how Vincent is managing himself at the time. This mostly emotionless venture does get one nice moment to cap it off though, as Darlene, reluctant to fall on either evolving side of the business, ends up at Vincent’s new place surrounded by change. This powerful moment reflects what a lot of “Why Me?” was missing: how do these changes in work affect the women?

Candy, meanwhile, is doing her best to entrench herself in the crew side of making pornography. Literally the opposite of Darlene, she sees this as an avenue to get out of sex work altogether and pursuing a vocation that doesn’t involve her body. Her side of the story requires more of an emotional attachment than the rest of the episode, but it still feels a bit repetitive of what The Deuce has been doing all season. Of course Candy landing in the porn industry isn’t going to be some clean masterstroke of luck, but it’s a bit tiring to see her get angry and surprised at a lot of similarly dark roads being offered to her right now.

With just two episodes left, The Deuce seems to have hit something of a second half slump. This week’s combined with last week’s episode spell out ways for this intricate series to come up short. But the acting and the direction remain incredibly worthwhile, and the setting has yet to wear thing. The Deuce just really needs to be more consistent with its emotionality. The first four episodes did a wonderful job making us love these characters, now something just has to be done with them. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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