Television Review: Looking (Season 1)

looking-posterLooking follows a trio of friends in San Francisco as they deal with various dating conundrums and relationship drama. The first season consists of just eight, 30-minute episodes – which sucks, because this series is great and addictive.

Some people have called Looking the gay(er) version of Sex and the City, although that doesn’t do the newcomer justice. There are funny bits, sure, but these flow naturally from everyday, believable situations. The tone is more documentary, far less exaggerated, and there isn’t a new hook or theme each week. It’s just a continuing story that is soap-like without getting soapy. The series doesn’t rush, giving intimate scenes – with engaging, natural dialogue – room to breathe. Andrew Haigh’s influence as a director is clear. He previously made the well-received movie Weekend, which has the same style. (Though not he but Michael Lannan is the main writer and creator of Looking.)

Looking castThe cast is charming and convincing. And fairly hot, which doesn’t hurt, as there is some not-too-crude nudeness. The three main players are Patrick Murray (Jonathan Groff) a twinky game designer who has awkward sexual tension with his boss, Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez) a scruffy artist who has trouble finding his inspiration and Dom (Murray Bartlett) a mustached, beefcake waiter with ambitions of opening his own restaurant. Supporting are the scruffy artist’s boyfriend (O.T. Fagbenle), Dom’s business partner and potential love interest Lynn (Quantum Leap and Enterprise‘s Scott Bakula), Patrick’s aforementioned boss (Russell Tovey of Being Human), Dom’s best girl-friend Doris (Lauren Weedman) and last but not least; Richie (Raúl Castillo), Patrick’s hot and sincere love interest. An entire, sweet and sexy episode simply follows Richie and Patrick on their first date.

jonathan_groff_russell_toveyIt’s great to see a group of characters who are representative of gay life without trying too hard. They aren’t caricatures and the series doesn’t strain something trying to check all the boxes of all the subscenes within the gay scene. It doesn’t run screaming from gay stereotypes but also doesn’t overly sashay towards them. The Big Gay Issues have yet to take center stage – marriage, adoption, discrimination – the show being less militant than something like Queer as Folk. (Opinions may differ on that being good or bad for the gay cause.) Though there is barely a straight person in sight, and only one recurring woman in the cast, anybody watching the series could easily relate to the emotional turmoil these characters go through, regardless of their own orientation.

Looking BakulaI generally prefer quality over quantity, but Looking is too high-quality for me to not want more quantity. So it’s good that a second season is in the works, due late 2014 / early 2015. I guess that it will feature a love-triangle (or two) and I hope that it will show a bit more of the origin of the ‘main three’. You don’t see them together a lot and their dynamic with each other hasn’t really been explored. As long as it stays this good, I will certainly keep Looking.

Dom Looking


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