Actor and producer James Franco will return for season 2 of HBO's The Deuce. Franco plays a dual role in the '70s-set series as both mob-connected bar owner Vincent Martino and his loose-canon brother Frankie. HBO has ordered a second season of The Deuce from creators David Simon and George Pelecanos.
Many had wondered if Franco himself would return for The Deuce season 2, given the sexual assault allegations recently leveled against him. In the wake of Franco's Golden Globe win for playing Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist, actress Ally Sheedy in a since-deleted series of tweets called out Franco for his prior misconduct. Actress Violet Paley then came out with more specific charges, accusing Franco of assaulting her and a friend who was 17-years-old at the time. The LA Times later chronicled further misconduct allegations against Franco from five more women.
It seems that at least for now HBO will stick with James Franco in the face himself of these allegations. ET reports that, during an appearance at Sunday night's Writers Guild Awards in New York, The Deuce writer Megan Abbott confirmed that Franco will "of course" return for season 2.
The Deuce creator David Simon said himself in a recent interview (via Variety) that neither he nor HBO received any complaints about Franco's conduct during production of the show. Franco himself denied the allegations during a post-Golden Globes appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Before the allegations, Franco had been considered a lock to earn an Oscar nomination for his role in The Disaster Artist. But when nominations were announced, Franco was left off the ballot. Franco also found himself being erased from the cover of Vanity Fair's annual Hollywood issue in the wake of allegations.
Issues of male sexual conduct and female empowerment are of course central to HBO's The Deuce. Set in New York in the 1970s, the show revolves around the early days of the porn industry, a free-for-all time with no rules and lots of energy. Many of the show's central characters are sex workers, and the show often delves deep into issues of exploitation and objectification. Of course, some have accused the show itself of objectifying if not outright exploiting women. Others however have praised The Deuce for its depiction of empowered female characters, particularly Maggie Gyllenhaal's Candy, a prostitute who tries to escape her circumstances by getting in on the ground floor of the porn business. Given the show's very tricky subject matter, one can certainly understand why HBO might balk at bringing James Franco back. But apparently they have made up their minds.