|dc.description.abstract||In HBO’s The Deuce, nostalgia for 1970s New York City is potent in its aesthetics and subject matter. Set in Times Square, the series follows the lives of sex workers, pimps, hustlers, mobsters, and police officers during the rise of the pornography industry. This project seeks to examine the ways that the series effectively manipulates its nostalgia to illustrate that all people, regardless of their era, are perpetually contending with social change. In this way, the past mirrors current political and social injustices in the United States.
Connected to nostalgia is The Deuce’s portrayal of New York City. Critic James Sanders has suggested that the physical city is inevitably tied to its imaginative counterpart: the mythic city. In the same way that nostalgia works, the mythic city creates a veneer of stability and fantasy. The Deuce troubles this portrayal of New York by connecting it to its characters, all of whom are challenging the expectations attached to their respective identities. In particular, the character of Candy demonstrates the social evolution of the city, the pornography industry, and feminism.
While social change is a major focus of the series, I argue that The Deuce is invested in demonstrating that the past is not so far removed from the present. Specifically, the series’ exploration of the pornography industry informs current issues of misogyny, racism, and classism in the politics and culture of the United States today. As a result, The Deuce takes a decidedly feminist approach to its subject matter and suggests that viewers do the same.||