4K butts on seats - yes, it is intended.
So, I watched episode one last night and it is indeed promising. There's plenty of dramatic threads to develop to not stray into repetition of pole dance after pole dance to keep viewers for the long haul - a sentence I never imagined I'd construct. In fact, the pole dancing tends to leave you impressed and seeing the women as lower level gymnasts than just objects of desire.
The drama, on so many levels, is where this is at. In the opener, you're hit with patterns of abuse which continues throughout: whether physical and mental for the women or, in ego and pocket for the customers. However, it's clearly the women who get literally hit hardest. For example, the scene with the newly minted mother at end of shift, bruised money-maker (face), babe in arms and looking on with sheer fear at her ride and it's abusive driver waiting to take home is truly chilling.
Brandee Evans Mercedes and her scenes with her connivingly dodgy money-whore religious mom work so well and probably best. Elarica Johnson's Autum Night, as the principal character to ponder over her past and new future's adequate though needs work but, perhaps, her dalliance with the mysterious photographer that one would assume is an undercover detective could offer more intrigue to come. Nicco Annan, is great as the gender-bending mother-hen club owner, who's clearly been faking it to make it for decades. His bouncer and money manager supports offer more weight and feeling to keeping things, barely, afloat.
For all this, though, it does feel somewhat vapid as of yet. Sure, there's sparks and a few decent set pieces but they fail to tie the thing together. As Cas notes, too, some of the acting feels weak and this is a world away from the mystifyingly sustained snap in writing of the likes of The Wire for 5 black and white colloquial word intense seasons. Nor can it hope to match The Deuce's drama and acting calibre in an ever impressive ensemble.
So why such a long review? Well, I have hope that Starz and it's on and off set company behind the camera will pull it together. Starz, like HBO, tends to stand behind its projects and put in the money and time to draw out a good yarn. I slated Perry Mason, from HBO, on the other thread but that, to me, has improved considerably to the point of not just watching it in a time of pandemic. So, I trust, in contrast, I haven't wasted my time here....