Were We Too Critical of 'Looking' When It Was on the Air?
I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely critical of Looking when it was on the air back in 2014 and 2015. The HBO show was viewed by many in the community as our first real series about gay life since Queer as Folk (Will & Grace is a completely different ballpark), so we were laser focused on how it was going to turn out, and from my recollection, the negative outweighed the positive for the most part.
Looking ran for two seasons on HBO before it got canceled in 2015. Luckily, there were some diehard fans that helped the show get an actual movie made, where we saw how several of it's prominent relationships conclude. Since then, there hasn't been any scripted series made where the cast is predominantly gay, as there is still a trend in Hollywood of using us for funny supporting characters or having us intertwined with heterosexuals (Will & Grace, Modern Family, etc).
Did the show have its flaws? Yes, plenty of them. For me, the problem with the show was completely centered on its star Jonathan Groff (Glee, Spring Awakening). It wasn't necessarily him but his character of Patrick, who falls in to that same thing that other HBO series do where the main character isn't exactly the protagonist of sorts but more of someone who is a real person with real flaws that don't always come across as you wanting to like or support their decisions when they are doing them.
His aloof aspects to so many things throughout the series bugged the crap out of me, especially when you live in such a gay friendly city like San Francisco (not knowing how to douche or where to take an AIDS test are two major examples of this). He also wrecked every relationship he was in, and that frustration for me continued with his character when he essentially got what he wanted in the end and wound up with Richie (Raul Castillo) and convinced him to move to a different state so they can start their lives together. This was after he fucked things up with him in season one and relied on him in season two when he was going through all his crap with Kevin (Russell Tovey), much of which was his fault from the get.
I felt that his character should've ended up with no one, similar to how I felt Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) should've been single at the end of the Sex and the City series. Both characters were incredibly selfish and always put their feeling first. They barely listened to their friends advice, yet still got what they wanted in the end. I'm all for a "Hollywood" ending of sorts, but in this case Patrick should've found himself walking the streets of San Fran solo as opposed to jumping ship with a guy who could've done way better than him.
At the time, my frustration with the writing of his character overshadowed just how well done this show really was. What made this show so great was the supporting cast members and their storylines, many of which I wish we saw more of. The relationship between Doris (Lauren Weedman) and Malik (Bashir Salahuddin) was one of my favorites and one that was totally unexpected, as they really liked each other but there was something in the way that prevented them from them taking the next step IE Doris' insecurities. The show should've been an hour long, as I wish we could've seen more of how the two of them operated.
Same goes with the relationships between Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Eddie (Daniel Franzese), who the latter literally saved the former's character from being one of the most annoying people on television ever and actually giving him a heart and soul that made their twosome so great when the series ended. Dom (Murray Bartlett) and Lynn (Scott Bakula) also demonstrated the relationships between two men who are at an older age in life, where the former was willing to give up his sexually charged lifestyle for the latter but there were problems within that. The acting with these six were really fantastic, I just wish that they could've been showcased more as opposed to the endless whining and complaining from Patrick.
Looking back (no pun intended), the show really was great. Nothing is perfect, and gay men are very critical about anything that has to do with them, and in this case, we may have been too critical. It's really a shame that we still have no long running scripted series that is totally about gay life and culture in 2018, and the hopes are that if we get another Looking type of show that we welcome it with an open mind and heart as opposed to being super critical from the get.