‘The Deuce‘ is a semi-fictional drama created by George Pelecanos and David Simon. It transports us to the early 1970s, which witnessed the genesis of the sex-trade industry. Set in Times Square, New York, the show chronicles how the porn business transformed from illegal hubs packed with organized crime to legitimate enterprises. It introduces us to the twins, Vincent and Frankie Martino, who navigate this scene after they meet a well-connected mobster named Rudy Pipilo. We get to see several other characters such as pimps, barkeepers, prostitutes, cops, and nightlife seekers. They also meet Candy, an ambitious and witty prostitute, whose intelligence leads her to secure a more prominent place in the industry.
‘The Deuce’ premiered on HBO on September 10, 2017. Starring James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, it gives us a glimpse into the Golden Age of Porn while exploring subjects such as political and police corruption, burgeoning violence, and the booming drug trade. The series takes us to the shady underbelly 42nd Street near Times Square and explores how the expanding porn business takes a toll on its participating women. Of course, it’s real. It’s not about pimps who mislead young girls into porn. But it’s about willing women who join the gold rush on their own terms. The show chronicles the downfall of pimps and how the blossoming industry is profitable for everybody involved.
‘The Deuce’ is, without a doubt, an unforgettable experience. In fact, I would even venture to call it a masterpiece. For those of you who have finished watching the show and are looking for series that are thematically and tonally similar to this one, we’ve got you covered. Here’s the list of best shows similar to ‘The Deuce’ that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these series like ‘The Deuce’ on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
8. Harlots (2017-)
‘Harlots’, created by Alison Newman and Moira Buffini, is a British-American period drama. Inspired by Hallie Rubenhold’s ‘The Covent Garden Ladies’, it is centered around the protagonist, Margaret Wells, who owns and runs a brothel. Lending us a glimpse into 18th-century England, it chronicles her struggles as she tries to raise her daughters in a chaotic home.
Similar to the set-up of ‘The Deuce’, here, we witness the booming sex industry in London in 1763, when women willingly resort to selling sex so as to earn a living. Among the cunning, cruel businesswomen who run such brothels are Margaret Wells and Lydia Quigley. However, they face their own challenges when a rising wave of morality empowers the police to launch brutal raids. Wells, who is determined to see her business flourish, wishes to move her establishment to the elite neighborhood of Greek Street in Soho. In a bid to secure the required money for the move, she auctions the virginity of her younger daughter, Lucy. Once Margaret moves to Greek Street, she has to face conflicts with her rival, Lydia Quigley. All the episodes of ‘Harlots’ are currently available on Hulu. You can watch them here.
7. The Girlfriend Experience (2016-)
An anthology drama series, ‘The Girlfriend Experience‘ is created, written, and directed by Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz. Each season features a different story. For example, one tale revolves around a student in Chicago-Burnham Law School, named Christine Reade. When she gets a job as an intern at the law firm of Kirkland & Allen, she struggles between managing her expenses, attending classes, and navigating through her immense workload. Now, when she learns that her close friend, Avery, works as an escort, she joins the latter in one of her client meetings. Here, Christine meets an individual who needs an escort and agrees to work for him under the pseudonym, “Chelsea Rayne”. The complete “girlfriend experience” needs her to provide all sorts of sexual and emotional services to her client.
Another story is about finance director, Erica Myles and GFE provider, Anna Garner. In order to reach her high fundraising goals, Erica takes the help of Anna in blackmailing a powerful, black money fundraiser. There’s yet another plotline added to this story arc: Bria Jones, a former high-end escort, enlists in the Witness Protection Program, in order to escape from her abusive relationship. To make ends meet, she revives her previous career path of an escort. But this step complicates the upbringing of her estranged 13-year-old daughter.
6. Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On (2017-)
Created as a Netflix documentary series, ‘Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On’ is about the effects of mainstream porn on viewers as well as participants. When sex and technology entwine, what are its consequences? Narrated through real-life individuals, it lends us an insight into internet-dominated porn through the eyes of those who create or consume it. You can watch it here.
5. Fanny Hill (2007)
‘Fanny Hill’, a BBC series, is adapted from John Cleland’s eponymous novel that created multiple waves of controversy after its release. Written by Andrew Davies and directed by James Hawes, it revolves around a young country girl, Fanny, who is tempted into the sex industry of 18th-century England. Orphaned after her parents died of smallpox, she, one day, comes across her friend Esther Davies. She invites her to join a certain group of “working girls” under their madam, Mrs. Brown. Naive and simple, she accepts the invitation, after which she has her first sexual encounter with Phoebe. This is when she realizes that she wishes to delve further into this new taste of being a woman of pleasure. But after facing a repulsive encounter with an old and rich client, Mr. Croft, she discovers her true purpose under the roof of Mrs. Brown.
4. Karenjit Kaur – The Untold Story of Sunny Leone (2018-19)
‘Karenjit Kaur – the Untold Story of Sunny Leone’ chronicles the journey of the former pornstar, Sunny Leone, who is now a Bollywood actor. Named Karenjit Kaur after being born in a middle-class Sikh family, it tells the true story of her transformation from a naive young girl into a prominent adult film actress. Starring Leone, Raj Arjun, Rysa Saujani, Karamvir Lamba, Bijay Jasjit Anand, Grusha Kapoor, Vanish Pradhan, and Marc Buckner in major roles, it also follows the events that led her to meet her husband in the industry itself and her subsequent venture into mainstream cinema.
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3. Masters of Sex (2013-16)
An American period drama, ‘Masters of Sex’ is a Showtime series that debuted on September 29, 2013. Developed by Michelle Ashford and inspired by Thomas Maier’s eponymous biography, it is set between 1950s to 1960s. It introduces us to the duo, Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson. While Virginia is a divorced mother wanting to lead a meaningful career, William divorces his wife and gets married to Virginia. Together, they conduct researches on human sexuality at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
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2. Matrioshki (2005-08)
‘Russian Dolls: Sex Trade’, aka ‘Matrioshki’ or ‘Matrёshki’, is a Flemish drama series set in Belgium. It follows a group of women, natives of Lithuania and Russia, who are transported by a sex-trade gang to Belgium. Here, they are forced to work as sex slaves. It shows how these girls are cheated and lured to join this industry. First, they are made to sign a contract in Greek, which they do not understand. The gang, led by Ray Van Mechelen, then takes them to Cyprus, from where they are placed in Club 69 in Belgium, which is their venue for work. Produced and directed by Guy Goossens and Marc Punt, ‘Matrioshki’ is packed with explicit sex scenes and violence, making it a gritty, engaging watch.
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1. Maison Close (2010-13)
‘Maison Close’ debuted on Canal+ on October 4, 2010. After running for two seasons, it concluded with the premiere of its second installment on February 4, 2013. Developed by Mabrouk El Mechri and adapted from a concept created by Jacques Ouaniche, it takes us to 19th-century France. Set in 1871 in a Parisian brothel, it gives us a glimpse into Le Paradis, a luxury brothel. It follows three women who attempt to escape from their troublesome circumstances within the establishment’s walls. We meet the 35-year old Vera, who is almost approaching the end of her career as a prostitute. Her only hope is her rich client, who might pay her enough so that she can clear her debts. Next is Hortense, the Madame of Le Paradis. She must hold on to her girls while trying to deal with someone from the Parisian suburbs, who aims to extort money from her. The third woman is Rose, who comes searching for her former prostitute mother. There, she is trapped by a pimp and is forced to join the brothel.
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