The Deuce Pilot: A Premiere Rife with Graphic Sexual Exploitation

Trigger warning: this article contains descriptions of graphic sexualized exploitation depicted in HBO’s The Deuce pilot episode


HBO’s The Deuce premieres in September, however subscribers were given a pass to watch the pilot early.

As suspected, The Deuce, which is set in New York around the boom of the pornography industry in America, is rife with graphic sexual exploitation. Pimps, nudity, and violence against women are the hallmarks of this pilot episode.

Notable incidents:

  • Scene where pimps are hanging out on the street getting shoe shines; two little boys are hanging out with them looking at Playboy;
  • Franco’s character is walking down the street, sees a man in a phone booth getting a blow job from a prostitute, you see the man’s penis in the scene;
  • Graphic sex scene between a student and her professor, she’s topless throughout;
  • Franco’s character makes the women at the restaurant he manages start wearing black leotards as their “uniform” in order to attract customers;
  • A group of male teenagers come to Times Square by car to treat their friend (it’s his birthday – presumably his 18th) to sex. They are all pooling their funds so that he can have sex (and presumably lose his virginity). The male who is being “treated” looks very young and intimidated, but it’s a peer pressure thing. He ends up going with Gyllenhaal (Candy) to her room –he seems very reluctant. Once in the room Gyllenhaal exposes her breasts. He fondles them. Then she undoes his pants and pulls out his penis – you see it for a short bit. Then she puts a condom in her mouth and puts it on him with her mouth. He climaxes almost immediately. He then complains that it didn’t take long and that he can go again in a few minutes. She says no, unless he pays again. Eventually, they negotiate and she accepts a personal check (given to him as a gift for his birthday). This is not normal (usually its cash only) but she makes an exception. It was a striking scene because of the almost instant transformation of the teenager from an intimidated boy, to a guy complaining because he didn’t get what he wanted from a prostitute;
  • In another scene, another prostitute appears to be viciously attacked.  As she is unlocking the door to her room, a man follows, passes by, but then comes back as she enters the room. He grabs her head and shoves her in the room, throws her on the bed, slaps her across the face and starts undoing his pants. She’s trying to kick him off. It’s clear he’s going to rape her. The scene ends. Later the show returns to the scene after the attack. He is sitting naked in a chair, she’s on the sitting on the bed, breasts exposed. It becomes clear that the “rape” was a fetishized act that he paid for. Because he was really rough with her, he pays more. He gets up from the chair to get dressed, and his penis is clearly seen. Also full rear nudity;
  • Near the end, we see Franco having sex with a woman who works with him from the restaurant. Full rear nudity of Franco. It’s a very pornographic scene. When they finish you see the woman’s breasts;
  • After they finish having sex they can hear sounds like a woman crying out in pain. The woman coaxes Franco to investigate. He walks down the corridor and peers through a door window into a stairwell, where we see one of the pimps torturing his “bottom” girl. She didn’t want to “work” that night because it was pouring down rain and she was soaking wet. Earlier in the show, she had come to him to ask him not to work that night. He said let’s go somewhere where we can talk about it. As we see when Franco peers through the door window, the pimp’s idea of going somewhere “to talk about it” was taking her someplace to torture her. He has her arms above her head, and he has sliced one of her armpits with a razor blade, blood is clearly seen running down. She is crying and is completely terrorized. He proceeds to give a horrifying lecture on how she has to work whenever, wherever he says or that next time he’ll cut her face-the blade against her cheek. The show ends with Franco not intervening. He returns to his room, and the pimp walks by him on his way out.

HBO is a member of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Dirty Dozen List due to its continued normalization of sexual violence against women and pornified TV entertainment.

The Numbers


NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.


The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.


NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.



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