5. 'The Deuce' (HBO)
David Simon and George Pelecanos build a whole world out of the criminal underground around Times Square circa 1971, with the epic ambition they brought to The Wire. James Franco excels in his dual role as a pair of low-life twins. The Deuce is packed with stellar performances, right down to the guy cooking breakfast at the diner – Anwon Glover, eternally beloved as The Wire's Slim Charles. But Maggie Gyllenhaal is the heart of the story, as a hooker getting into the new future of porn movies; as she explains, "The camera's the john." And if the hustlers secretly dream of being auteurs, that's all in the game – as one girl shrugs after a skin-flick screening, "I thought it was kinda artistic, but with a lot of dick."