David Simon’s “The Deuce” Charts the Rise of Pornography
David Simon believes in the dignity of labor, “even when it’s undignified.” What “The Wire” (which he created) did for the drug trade in Baltimore, “The Deuce,” also on HBO, does for sex work and the beginnings of the pornography industry in New York, in the seventies. Critics have compared Simon not so much to other television showrunners as to novelists like Dickens; Simon’s work is similarly wide in scope, with large casts, and aims to create a picture of a whole world. At bottom, he wants to follow the money from the street to the bosses to the politicians. But while Simon is sympathetic to the sex workers he depicts in “The Deuce,” and even to some of the pimps and mobsters who exploit them, he is unambiguously critical of porn’s effect on America. He tells David Remnick that porn—universally available on the Internet in its most extreme forms—has warped a whole culture toward misogyny. Plus, Ellie Kemper as a character with pathological delusions of gracefulness; and the rapper Wiki grows up.