Maggie Gyllenhaal on How ‘The Deuce’ Uses Porn, Prostitution to Look at Current Political Reality

TCA 2017: “I think it’s become clear in a way that it wasn’t totally clear a year ago that there is a huge amount of misogyny in the world,” actress says

Last Updated: August 7, 2017 @ 4:29 PM

HBO has been accused of glamorizing the objectification of women in its drama series in the past, but Maggie Gyllenhaal says “The Deuce,” a period drama set in the early days of the pornography industry, is doing something different.

The show — from executive produced David Simon, which is produced by and stars Gyllenhaal — examines a world that was built on the backs of abused women, and could help people to understand issues that women still face in the present day.

“I think it’s become clear (in a way that it wasn’t totally clear a year ago) that there is a huge amount of misogyny in the world. I mean, I think we thought we were in a better place than we were,” Gyllenhaal said at the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Wednesday. “Here we have an opportunity to pick it up and lay it on the table.”

“I think if you don’t put that on the table and take a really good clear look at it, nothing will change, nothing will shift,” the actress continued. “Playing a prostitute who does go through very, very difficult things, as a filter through which to look at women and our relationship to sex, to power, to cash, to art, is maybe the one of most interesting things to explore.”

Simon agreed that the show doesn’t use misogyny “as a currency” to excite viewers or as a replacement for good storytelling. Instead, “The Deuce” aims to examine the way society has done so in the past, with the EP adding that the show would be a failure if it fell into the same patterns.

“We’re not using misogyny as a currency to get people interested,” he said. “If we made something that’s purely titillating, than damn us. I’m interested in it being the actual product. How it became such a product.”

“It’s not what’s driving the show, it’s what the show’s about. It’s the show’s reason for being,” he said. “That is what has been sold to the point where now we don’t sell a can of beer … without sexual connotation or sexual imagery that encompasses the world of porn that we’ve been sold.

Simon went on to say that cleaning up the hard realities and mistakes of the past would be erroneous. “I’m not sure how you make a show and address to yourself what the product actually is and avert your eyes or clean it up,” he said. “At a certain point, you’re making ‘Pretty Woman.'”

But Gyllenhaal said that it could potentially be an even better show if audiences found themselves excited by the show’s sexual content at least a little bit.

“In a way, if the show also turns you on a little, and then makes you consider what’s actually turning you on and the consequences for the people,” she said. “I think it’s a better show.”

“If you’re only going, ‘Oh, we’re not interested in this, this is terrible and we’re all going to pat ourselves on the back for it,’ it doesn’t ever make you consider your position as a person in America right now, where sex is commodified,” Gyllenhaal concluded. “So I hope it does both actually, I hope it does a little of both.”

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