ReviewTV

A More Modern Look Into The Life of Gay Men in HBO's “Looking”

Adam Reynoso ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff

Frankie J. Alvarez, Jonathan Groff and Murray Bartlett in Looking. Photo Courtesy of HBO.
Frankie J. Alvarez, Jonathan Groff and Murray Bartlett in Looking. Photo Courtesy of HBO.

Initially what was known about HBO’s new series, Looking, was that it would offer insight into the lives of three gay men in San Francisco and Jonathan Groff from Frozen, Glee, and Broadway’s Spring Awakening would portray one of the three leads.

Just hearing that already generates a lot of buzz around the pilot. What makes the show more enticing is the fact that the director of the beautiful 2011 film Weekend, Andrew Haigh, is part of the program as well. Having seen the film, it’s safe to say the show has a lot of promise before even seeing the pilot.

The first three episodes do a good job of showing the character development in each of the three leads. Groff’s character Patrick represents the average guy. He’s a video game developer who wants to prove to his friends (and sometimes himself) that he can be a part of the casual fling scene. By episode three, it seems like Patrick could be trapped in a formulaic “looking for the wrong thing” with his potential suitors, but instead, Patrick decides he wants to focus on becoming the best version of himself and concentrate on his job instead. The final line from his new boss sums it up best: “Commitment looks good on you.”

Jonathan Groff and Raúl Castillo in Looking. Photo Credit: John P Johnson.
Jonathan Groff and Raúl Castillo in Looking. Photo Credit: John P Johnson.

Dom (Murray Bartlett) is on another side of the spectrum. In his arc on the first batch of episodes, he’s getting the closure needed from an ex and deciding to move on with his life. He’s also the oldest of the group, introducing the aspect of the gay community within older guys. He’s seen using Grindr and having various encounters with younger men. One of the best parts about Dom’s story is his relationship with his roommate, Doris (Lauren Weedman). She offers more insight into Dom’s character and past, as well as some hilarious commentary about his love life.

And then there’s Agustín, also known as Gus (Frankie J. Alvarez). In this batch of episodes, his story has definitely been the weakest. His character is in a relationship that may or not be open, and he’s just moved in with his boyfriend. As of the end of episode three, his character feels like every other artists’ story. However, if the show continues on with a potential “sex worker” storyline teased in the latest episode, Gus’s story has the potential to become a lot juicier.

The cinematography does a good job of adding a dream-like feel to the show. The setting of San Francisco also really seems to fit the show and help separate it from similar shows like Queer as Folk or even HBO’s other show, Girls.

So far, Looking is proving to be a more modern take on the ins and outs of today’s gay man’s world, specifically with the use of Grindr and OkCupid in the show. It’s off to a pretty strong start and has the potential to grow into something more.  

Overall Rating (Ep. 1-3): B

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