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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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Top Customer Reviews
Patrick is a hard character to love. At times he's adorable and endearing. Other times, he's a little pathetic and tiring. But that all works for him and keeps him very human, and very real. And that sets the tone for most of the show - the simple elegance in its often austere and very true-to-life presentation of things. It's not flashy like QAF was. Instead it's a show that remains firmly rooted in reality, something significantly aided to make sure the time-place setting of contemporary San Francisco is pretty strong.
Patrick is obviously the story of focus, but that is not to say that the other threads weren't interesting. I think the story involving Dom was a pretty intriguing one as he tries to find a new path for himself and how tries to resolve his friendship with Lynn. But Agustin's story was pretty messed up and could have used a bit more on-screen development, I think. One could already see where the story was bound to go given the first episode along, but how we get from the beginning to the season ender could have been elaborated upon a bit more.
The inclusion of Russell Tovey as Kevin, Patrick's new boss, was naturally a major squee moment for my partner and myself. He's certainly one of the more interesting openly gay actors in the industry and his television work with shows like the original Being Human already had him blip on our radar. Plus he's pretty adorable in a dorky kind of way and the complexities of his character made for a nice enough mix. Yay for more Russell Tovey!
On the whole, I enjoyed Looking, but I know the show has a bit of a ways to go before it becomes truly significant versus other TV shows. There were a number of complaints about how the show may have traded old stereotypes for new ones, but seriously, what TV show is totally free of stereotypes? A lot of entertainment holds a mirror up to our lives and Looking didn't go too deeply some of the more classic stuff from LGBT shows like a strong AIDS-related sub-plot or a ridiculous amount of substance abuse on a regular basis as part of the circuit scene. This is not QAF - but I think it's addressing a new niche in terms of what LGBT stories can be told.
Looking is a show with a lot of potential and I do plan on sticking around until the second season to see how things go. Admittedly this means that I appreciate the show more for its potential than its actual merits at this point and hopefully this investment of trust will pay off.