summary. looking is an hbo drama(edy?) about 3 gay men in san francisco (!) trying to “figure out gay love”. or something. i thought it was reasonably entertaining and with an end definitely strong enough to pull me away from my studying. 7 escapularios out of 10. two strong final episodes don’t make up for almost half a season of a slow start.
overall. [spoilers] sidestepping: 1) is this a white-washed, sanitized, dull version of gay life, and 2) is it an unrealistic show, because i find both those questions sort of dead-horsed at this point and i have nothing really to add/maybe they aren’t great questions.
the totally cliche comment that i WILL make however is that it reminded me a LOT of girls. from the perspective that it is a pretty bold/unapologetic show that revolves around generally not redeeming or likable people who share their really self involved sort of narcissistic stories and ugh you would never REALLY be friends with them but fine i’ll watch 30 minutes of your life where nothing happens. where there can be episodes that really don’t develop characters and episodes with no beginning, conflict, or resolution. it’s rare to find a show that is bold enough to do that. and i mean it as a semi-compliment.
last cliche comment: yes, it is super cool seeing the show in san francisco and nbd they’re riding a muni bus or they’re at dolores park or they’re at the parking lot north of golden gate bridge.
more specific comments:
doris. she is just so heartfelt and the funniest part of the show and had so much heart and YOU GUYSSSSS just what i wish the show had more of. like i totally get that put-down humor is funny—but it better be funny and not just a put down, which is 90% of what the “humor” is between agustin/patrick/dom. but not with doris! sharp as a tack. ugh, when she vouches for dom and semi apologizes for him and looks out for her friend—where else is that in the show?!?!
agustin. seriously, guys. wtf. WTF!? who would ever be friends with him. he is a jerk, not a supportive friend, really enjoys just being mean for the sake of being mean, and is a compulsive liar about some not so great things?!?! to his boyfriend who is super great?!?! yes, it’s also very difficult for me to sympathize with people who have that kind of lifelong blase-ness. but good for him for getting dumped. and when he said that patrick was “slumming it”!?!?!?!?!?! okay, no more talk about agustin.
dom. i find him sort of sympathetic. i get the stress of opening a place, wanting things done your way, arguments, trying to repair things, things being weird, regrets, etc. just really sucks the way that played out. i thought the sexual overtone things were… something. everything was complicated. this is a very GREY AREA sort of thing that reminds me a lot of girls.
patrick. patrick, patrick, patrick. sorry guys, not on team patrick. he seems so high strung and timid/insecure and CONSTANTLY WORRIED ABOUT SOMETHING and takes himself so seriously. saying the wrong things and then taking it back and then asking “is it okay that i said that?” ugh. he would drive me crazy. i find richie’s and kevin/russell tovey’s huge crush on patrick totally unbelievable because they would become annoyed by him in a heartbeat. okay i don’t find him terribly attractive either, so maybe that’s why he’s not pulling it off in my book. but man, he is DEFINITELY the hannah horvath of looking. a totally unsympathetic protagonist who has the slightest glimmers of niceness.
and it could also be how i am much more of the timid sort of patrick character and have that self-hatred and i need someone stable to balance me out.
richie. in general, i found their relationship quite unrealistic because i don’t think richie could handle patrick/be sensitive to patrick’s insecurities in real life. BUT, i do have to say that while his chemistry with patrick was a bit off at first, he did grow on me. the final “i am about to fall in love with you” did seem (as rilaws pointed out) a bitttttttttt undeserved, but that’s fine.
the wedding episode. probably my favorite episode. pmc called out one thing that i agree they did really well, which was the discussion with patrick and his mom. and how the gay narrative generally has the kid playing the victim and “oh my parents don’t accept me”, but the reversal of narratives about how patrick was the inconsiderate one and DIDNT” EVEN KNOW THAT HIS MOM HAD TAKEN LEXAPRO and blamed his mom for his problems with richie (!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!) was really great and wonderful and well done.
and for anyone who has 1) gone to a wedding alone or 2) has felt very single while their friends were very not single, the episode did a really great job with patrick’s lingering stares and heartbroken eyes with all the happy couples. incl the really hot couple. which brings me to…
everyone’s favorite topic, russell tovey.
it is very tough not to root for russell tovey and patrick. they have much more comfortable conversations. his accent, his looks, his take-charge-dness, a steely exterior with generous heaps of vulnerability.
…with a boyfriend. in yet another not-so-simple TWIST of the looking narrative dagger.
not to say that richie isn’t flawed as well, but why are most people on #teamkevin/russelltovey when richie is “the better match” (on paper?)
i’m not going to discuss whether i think kevin is *healthy* for patrick or the exact degree to which kevin (open relationship!?!?!? his bf was being a mean drunk!!!!!!!!) or patrick (he was on a break!!!!!!!!!!/they had broken up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) is morally culpable for hooking up with each other.
however, i will say that the two moments where they were inches away from each other’s faces that i could feel the sexual tension exploding from the screen. the physical attraction, the excitement of generally “breaking the rules” both from a boss standpoint and both in relationships standpoint and the fact that they’re friends and it’s careening off into sex!?!? the idea that you will be able to satisfy a crush that you’ve had for weeks!?!? the idea that someone who you’re absolutely in love with was actually in love with you this whole time?!?!!??! and SOMETHING IS ACTUALLY FINALLY GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE NEXT FIFTEEN SECONDS!?!? we have all had that soul consuming, first thing you think of when you wake up and last thing you think of when you sleep fantasy. crushes who we would give up a lot of stuff to be offering you a beer in a dark office building…..
rooting for kevin is the way we root for ourselves. #TEAMKEVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3<3<3
richard lawson’s take:
Overall, did the show succeed? And are we excited for season two? I’m definitely curious! Part of me wishes that the show had fought common TV impulses and not gotten quite as soapy as it did in the finale. Maybe the ramp-up in plot helped sate certain viewers who complained that the show was boring (if they were still watching it), but I think all those goings on also jostled the show’s well-cultivated easygoing tone a bit too much. It was exciting to see Dom kiss Lynn and Kevin and Patrick do their thing, but given how sort of gauzy and noncommittal the show had been before those points, I’m not sure there was really the proper sense of build or momentum that would have let the moments feel earned. If you want your show to be a mood piece, it should probably be a mood piece all the way to the end, without lurching into soapiness at the last minute, as entertaining as that soapiness maybe was.
But still, Looking made a good first impression, eight mostly breezy episodes that lightly intrigued and featured appealingly textured, lived-in performances from actors we’ve not seen much of before. And I like that it never tried to skip into some other plane of being a Defining Gay Television Show, the way some assumed it would before it premiered. Though it arrived with a lot of think piece clatter, Looking ultimately proved a far less controversial show than it once seemed destined to become. I don’t mean that as a knock on the show—it had no responsibility to push buttons or challenge assumptions or anything that shows and movies about gay people are constantly being asked to do. That it seemed mostly comfortable with the scale of its own ambitions to me means that Lookingwas a graceful success, a super lo-fi outing into some San Francisco afternoons and evenings that was as alternately withholding and oddly intimate as doing a deep-dive into someone’s Instagram profile. Again, I don’t mean that as an insult! It just means that Looking had a pleasingly modern feel, thoroughly contemporary in its tone and sense of place. Which is why I’m glad it has a future.