Is HBO’s Looking the show we … oh, something shiny over there!
I remember the excitement amongst my friends about the possibility of HBO doing a series about a young gay man trying to find love and himself in San Francisco. We've had some good gay centered entertainment in the past decade or so. HBO’s given us OZ (ok, not gay gay, but), Behind the Candelabra, and we had our, Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, Sex and the City. Is this new offering to the gay TV gods what we need, want, should idolize?
Some have stated Looking is the gayer Sex and the City, it’s about true life, and reflects real life. Gregory E. Miller from the New York Post wrote:
At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, “Looking” is likely the most realistic depiction of living as a modern gay man that television has ever seen. It’s groundbreaking stuff — stunningly honest and brutally fair with its flawed subjects’ search for meaning in love and life.
“Looking” follows Patrick (an enchanting Jonathan Groff) and his two friends Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Dom (Murray Bartlett), as they maneuver through their 20s and 30s in San Francisco. The title borrows a term from gay hook-up culture — The message “Looking?” on an app such as Grindr is simultaneously a salutation and an invitation — and alludes to the search for oneself. – NYPOST
So far this season, I’ve been underwhelmed. I find myself almost starting to get interested in each weekly episode and then the credits run. Thinking, oh, that was just the introduction and now the episode will actually start, I continue to watch, but nothing else happens. Was that a half an hour? Was that anything? Maybe it’s my practice of binge watching shows like House of Cards, Vikings, and Downton Abbey that have left me wanting more stimulation. Or maybe there just wasn’t much there. So what has happened this year?
The first episode of 2015 found Patrick, Dom, and Agustin trekking up to Lynn’s cabin in the woods to get away from it all. The main reason was to supposedly help Agustin put some distance between himself and his vices; men, drugs, alcohol, mirrors (he needed a trim). What happens? An unexpected circuit party pops up in the middle of the woods. There’s your something shiny. We learn of the party from a Mean Girls bear and a glow in the dark wood fairy. It’s what they were trying to escape, the drugs, sex, and booze, but when you parade glow sticks and bears in front of us gays, we cave? The attempt at abstinence was initially thwarted when Doris raided the Lynn’s liquor cabinet, an act Dom objected to the boys doing, but his sometimes present backbone was missing when Doris showed up on the steps with drink in hand. The comic relief fag hag to the rescue, saving the weekend from being chem-free, which I guess is a no-no in the gay world when 3 or more are present. Her actions reminded me of the Saturday Night Live / Kristen Wiig character Gilly, where she does something so wrong, but everyone just goes along with it and says, “Oh, Doris” I mean “Oh, Gilly.” So at the end of the episode we realize that they boys may have been better off staying in the city.
I think there was an episode 2, but I cannot remember what happened in it since episode three pushed any memory of #2 by introducing us to the bums of Dom and Kevin (Russell Tovey). Patrick gets to top Kevin which seems to be a surprise to him, but post-coitus he gets to listen to Kevin and his live-in boyfriend talk on the phone. Is Kevin’s bum the shiny object that is distracting Patrick from what he is looking for? I don’t think he’s looking to date someone that already has a live-in boyfriend. And the look on his face at the end of the episode makes me hope that he realizes this. It as well bothers me that we are putting morals aside by focusing on the Tovey-Groff sex scenes and who is top or bottom when we should be pointing out the fact that Tovey has a man and it isn’t an open relationship. Let’s give a conscience to another gay man on this show besides Richie (Raul Castillo).
Oh yes. I remember now. Episode 2 dealt with the bed bugs / AIDs scare Patrick went through after a nooner hook-up with Kevin in a seedy hotel. We’ve all most likely been there. I wasn’t talking about the seedy hotel, but more so worrying about a longer than usual cold, a spot on your body that wasn’t there before, or in Patrick’s case, a rash. There’s your something shiny, or scabby. I could be mistaken, but did Patrick just worry about Kevin’s status? What about Kevin’s partner’s status? There are three people in the "relationship" or maybe more since we do not know what Kevin’s live-in boyfriend is doing if anything on the side. The something shiny in this case is distracting Patrick once again from the big picture. Is this fling with a partnered man what he is “Looking” for?
Don’t get me wrong, Looking is a good viewing option, but I guess I am wanting more and I don’t mean more than just a half an hour for an episode. It seems that the recipe writers are using to create an episode is to introduce a goal for the characters, to get from point A to point B, but then throw something in the mix, something shiny, like a coin, alcohol, glitter, butt cheeks, a pumpkin, a circuit party, a squirrel, or Tovey’s British accent and sexy ears in order to distract these journeymen from reaching their point B.
Maybe the series is titled well. Not so much the New York Post’s Miller's definition of Looking, the popular salutation / invitation used on many sex apps, but more so the Looking for the point B in their lives and how they deal with all the distractions they run into along their journey. So far this season, our San Franciscans have experienced the shiny objects or the distractions of drugs, disease, and sex in episodes 1, 2, and 3 respectively. They’ve needed to sift through the fog of their fair city, the everyday challenges, and the temptations that boys bring with them and hopefully find what they are searching for. And it is season 2. Do we know what each character’s individual goals are? What are their point B’s? Are some of them still trying to find their point A? Are they as lost as we are? What will the shiny object be in episode 4 that will distract them even more.
Yes, I will keep watching. It is entertaining. Something has to tide me over until Game of Thrones is back on.
What's your opinion of Looking? Do you think it needs to find a moral compass when it comes to whatever Patrick and Kevin are doing?