Is HBO’s Looking the show we were hoping it would be?

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?

13 thoughts on “Is HBO’s Looking the show we were hoping it would be?”

  1. It’s junk. Bad acting. Bad

    It's junk. Bad acting. Bad dialogue. And the guys' voices take on Mae West tones with that cutesy back and forth talk. Also boring. And that vulgar female character….ugh….

  2. The only complaint I’ve ever

    The only complaint I've ever had about the series is that it's only 30 mins long, other then that I love it. Finally a show that deals with many realities instead of the empty gay stereotypes. I was/am surprised & kinda bummed on how many homos don't dig the show. I love that the characters don't spend all their time in a club or wear expensive trendy labels & are actually portrayed in a realistic way. I'm a dude who likes dudes but that doesn't mean everything I wear is super tight. Just because it lacks clubs, sex, skin, skin, skin, drugs, & more easy attention grabbing eye candy makes most gay men lose interest. Heaven forbid homos be shown thinking & living a life instead of washboard abs & easy sex. 

  3. There is a saying that we

    There is a saying that we must not make the perfect an enemy to the good. Looking isn't perfect, but I think it's usually good, and sometimes very, very good. I have no idea why so many in the LGBT community are so dismissive of it– there was a time we dreamed of this kind of honest portrayal. 

  4. Being a gay man who lives in

    Being a gay man who lives in San Francisco I was looking for some realness and authenticity to the experiences that Looking portrays. I have really mixed feelings about how well they do at showing what its really like to live here. Season 1 felt like the actors were struggling to find their voices. Every character seemed like a one dimensional cliche- Groff seems too naive, Augustin is so so unlikeably nasty and completely without redeeming qualites, its tough to find a drop of sympathy for this character. Then there's the fag hag with an endless supply of one-liners… and now they've added the requisite big bear character and the black man with the big dick. Cliches! I do watch the show faithfully because for every flaw there is a moment of brilliance. Tovey and Ritchie are a joy to watch, with special kudos to Ritchie for his superior acting skills. Season 2 needs to jettison some of these cliches and show some of the reality of life in SF- no one seems to be struggling to pay their rent, it's like watching the millennium version of Friends. And dear writers of the show- remember that your audience knows things like how long it takes to get from the city to Russian River (at least 1.5 hours) So if youre asking us to believe that Groff asked Tovey to drive for 3 hours in the middle of the night for a 20 minute romp in the woods, well, then you've already lost us SF fans.

  5. The new season has brought

    The new season has brought more diversity to the show, which was something viewers complained about in the first year. I think it's a great show, and is interesting and topical without being preachy or boring. Looking is slowly finding its way.

  6. I agree with the writer. My
    I agree with the writer. My expectations from season one where higher than the series delivered. I feel that season two is better than session one. It is more interesting and it feels like more things happen. I dislike couple of things: first, the length of the episodes. In less than 30 minutes it’s over before it begins. Second, this show is all about Patrick. I’d like to see more of other characters’ lifes. Third, Patrick…

  7. I agree that each episode of
    I agree that each episode of Looking could be longer and I agree that it is in part due to my own binge watching as well. However, I do like that the characters are flawed even though they strive to be better. All of us are that way to one degree or another. And we do often get distracted by things life throws at us to get us off course. The relationship between Patrick and Kevin has no moral compass attached…why else would this employer/employee relationship happen (i.e. Patrick’s inappropriately grabbing his boss’ behind during an office party). In anycase, the show is still fun to watch without needing to over analyze it. If it reflected too much of REAL LIFE it would be absolutely boring! I wouldn’t want to watch my life played out on TV. Would you?

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