Looking: The Complete First Season
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This new HBO comedy series revolves around three thirty-something friends living in San Francisco, who explore the exciting, sometimes overwhelming, options available to a new generation of gay men.
Looking offers up the unfiltered experiences of three close friends living - and loving - in modern-day San Francisco. Friendship may bind them, but each is at a markedly different point in his journey: Patrick (Jonathan Groff - Spring Awakening) is the 29-year-old video game designer getting back into the dating world in the wake of his ex's engagement; aspiring artist Agustín (Frankie J. Alvarez - Smash), 31, is questioning the idea of monogamy amid a move to domesticate with his boyfriend; and the group's oldest member, longtime waiter Dom (Murray Bartlett), 39, is facing middle age with romantic and professional dreams still unfulfilled. The trio's stories intertwine and unspool dramatically as they search for happiness and intimacy in an age of unparalleled choices - and rights - for gay men. Also important to the Looking mix is the progressive, unpredictable, sexually open culture of the Bay Area, with real San Francisco locations serving as a backdrop for the group's lives. Rounding out the Looking world are Dom's roommate Doris (Lauren Weedman), Agustín's boyfriend Frank (O.T. Fagbenle), and Patrick's co-worker Owen (Andrew Law), as well as love interests Kevin (Russell Tovey), Lynn (Scott Bakula), and Richie (Raúl Castillo).
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,much worse A very tedious affair and none of the characters are interesting or their situations.Finally,why do most of the leading male characters wear beards (mostly untidy ones )? I got sick of seeing all those hairy faces!
As for the main characters:
- one is unemployed, vaguely artistic, and in an open relationship with his boyfriend (an arrangement which he finds increasingly dissatisfying)
- one is an aging waiter with a vague ambition of opening a restaurant who has anonymous sex with men considerably younger than himself (although an older man, a florist, who might help him realize his ambition has caught his eye)
- one is a video game designer who is rather whinily (and somewhat half-heartedly) courting a hair-dresser/stylist/whatever whom he met on a bus, while alternately lusting after the boss at his video game-designing job.
All three are insecure and neurotic. And talentless. Painfully talentless. Particularly the vaguely artistic one. The florist only slightly redeems himself by becoming impatient with the aging waiter's nonsense. The video game designer's boss seemed at first a promising counterpoint to his idiotic and doting employee, but now he is displaying insecurities of his own. Otherwise the characters are aimless, ugly, not terribly literate, and seemingly lacking in any worthwhile touchstones. And against the background of a washed out San Francisco (is this simply the color-grading?) it's even more despicable.
With any luck HBO won't renew this insipid series.
The episodes written and directed by Haigh are so perfect they make me want to sing (I can't sing); the episodes written and directed by others are all right, but more tedious than fascinating.
The very, very best episodes are the ones featuring Groff (Patrick) and Raúl Castillo, who plays Patrick's boyfriend Richie. They're the sweetest, sexiest, and yet most thoroughly believable romantic scenes I've ever seen anywhere. No melodrama, lots and lots of truth and intelligence. An American never could have created such a program as Looking; very few from anywhere could have either, which is why I call Haigh a genius.
The first season follows an arc, but a quality arc, not a story arc. They get consistently better through Episode Five, then gradually fall off after that. But even at its worst, Looking is the very best there is.
Two of the lead actors (Groff and Murray Bartlett) are openly gay, which helps A LOT. Not only does it increase Looking's credibility, but it minimizes the number of stupid, insulting but evidently obligatory "How was it kissing a man?" interviews with straight actors.
The series may not be as popular as "Queer as Folk", but with enough time "Looking" will find its audience. Near the end of the first season Nielsen numbers were getting up which is why HBO has already announced Season 2 will debut in the new year.
The writing is excellent and the performances are flawless and the backdrop of San Francisco serves as both a beautiful backdrop and character in itself.