Looking Forward to the Second Season of ‘Looking’

Looking Season 2 PosterIn preparation for the fast approaching second season of HBO’s Looking I revisited Season 1 from start to finish. In a previous post, I discussed Season 1’s first 5 episodes, but after a thorough rehashing of Looking’s entire 8 episode freshman season I not only wanted to revisit and further explore a few points, but I also decided to share some things I want to see MORE of in Season 2.

  • Patrick a.k.a. Me?

PatrickUnfortunately, as I mentioned in my previous Looking Review, Patrick really does remind me of myself in numerous ways. These similarities concern me because, despite some redeeming qualities, Patrick can be unattractively nervous, clumsy, uncomfortable in his skin, naïve, and slightly superficial. Neither he nor I have been in a long-term relationship and, yes, sometimes when I’m on a date I need a few alcoholic drinks in me to fully relax.

The further I delved into Season 1, the more things I realized we have in common. I do not love Patrick as a person or as a character. I suppose we are both still maturing as characters. Hopefully, Patrick has some redeeming moments in the new season.

  • Episode 1 is still a snore fest

On my second viewing of the series’ first episode I found myself not having much of a reaction. Come to think of it, I didn’t have much of a reaction to it the first time around. Here is to hoping that the Season 2 opener will be more engaging and interesting.

  • Richie: My Perfect Man

Patrick and RichieI have come to love Raúl Castillo. My heart jumps a little when he steps on screen. He is so cute, but more importantly I love how he portrays Richie. For that matter, and to give the writers due credit, I love how Richie is written. Richie is so centered. So rational. So emotionally stable. So strong. And to top it all off, he is a good dancer.

For me, Richie improves the entire show. His presence makes Patrick better and less annoying. Every one of my favorite scenes from the first season had Richie in them. I am the most excited to revisit Richie’s character in Season 2 to see what happens for him next.

  • My Favorite Scene from Season 1

In case anyone was wondering, my favorite scene from Season 1 is the planetarium scene from Richie and Patrick’s Episode 5 date. It was real and heartfelt, filled with true moments of two people connecting.

  • My Second Favorite Scene from Season 1

My second favorite scene from Season 1 is when Richie confronts/talks to Patrick outside his place in Episode 8. Patrick has just gotten back from making a wrong decision and the audience gets to watch him immaturely try to justify his actions by telling Richie, “I thought you said you didn’t want to talk to me ever again.” (As though he truly thought it was okay to sleep with Kevin because he and Richie would never speak again.) Richie clarifies, “I didn’t say that.” And then he calls Patrick out on his mistakes and his not being ready for a real relationship. I admired Richie’s strength in this scene. He stands his ground and is very brave to tell Patrick how he feels. I hope his ability to project honesty and to speak the truth rubs off on Patrick in season 2.

  • Let’s see less Agustín

Agustín continued to get more unlikeable and reprehensible as Season 1 progressed. He was constantly trying to scare and intimidate Patrick. By the end of Episode 8, I did not want to hear Agustín’s voice for one more second and I was literally tired of seeing his face. I clapped when Franklin finally told him off. Agustín’s entire presence is toxic and unlikable. Is it Frankie Alvarez’s fault that I hate Agustín, or is this the way the writers want me to feel about him? I hope we are either exposed to much less of this character in Season 2 or that his personality is drastically altered.

  • Kevin: The More Dangerous Choice

In Episode 4, Patrick and Kevin spend a lot of time together during the day of the Folsom Street Fair. I remember when I first watched this episode last year I wanted Patrick and Kevin to have sex. I wanted to see Kevin/Russel Tovey naked. Plus, I thought Kevin seemed sweet and enduring. Now after having watched the entire first season, I can’t shake the feeling that the character of Kevin is sort of slimy and not to be trusted. I cannot feel good about how he pursued Patrick while he was so involved with his current boyfriend. And I didn’t like how he immediately seemed less interested in Patrick after he got what he wanted: sex. I love Russel Tovey, his British accent, and his adorable ears, but my jury is still out on Kevin. Besides I am Team Richie 100%!

Looking SquaresNow let’s explore my hopes for the new season, or put another way, in Season 2 I want MORE…

1. Doris a.k.a. Lauren Weedman. She is funny, likable, insightful and intelligent.

Lauren Weeman

2. Friendships. I want to see more intimate layers exposed behind these friendships. I want some friendship high and low points that I can relate to and enjoy watching.

3. New Characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new character of Eddie, played by Daniel Franzese of Mean Girls fame, factors into the new season.

Mean Girls Guy

4. Richie. Along with more development of this character and hopefully more scenes of him dancing.

5. Dom, Lynn and Love. Lynn has a calming presence and he brings out good things in Dom. Besides, I’m curious to see how this relationship blossoms between two older gay men.Dom and love6. Romance in General. I’m a sucker for some romantic sparks and relationships I can envy. Maybe this show can usher me back into dating.

7. Skin. Let’s up the quota for hot, male shirtlessness and nudity if you don’t mind. (more of Russell Tovey or Jonathan Groff‘s asses would not be a bad thing!)

looking skin

8. Time. I would love to see longer episode lengths, but I know that this is not going to happen. Looking’s creators have addressed this want from fans in numerous interviews. Alas, it looks like we will just have to deal with it and learn to feel satisfied in our tiny 30 minute fixes.

In Search of a Gay Television Show Review – Looking (Season One)

HBO's Looking Movie Poster

So I just finished watching episode 5 of HBO’s new comedy-drama Looking. I’ve been meaning to write some form of a review about this TV show for a while now, but it was only after this fifth episode that I finally felt inspired to discuss it. Looking follows the love lives and careers of three gay friends, Patrick, Dom & Agustín, living in San Francisco, California. The show was created by Michael Lannan and has Andrew Haigh, the writer and director of Weekend (a movie I recently reviewed), attached to it as a main writer. The show fuses comedy with drama while trying to display a realistic depiction of what it is like to be a modern-day gay man.

When I first got wind that HBO was making a series about gay men I was immediately ecstatic. I am a huge lover of Sex and the City, which I watched on dvd after it had been off the air for a few years. I always felt that, since SATC was so wonderful, HBO had the ability to create an amazing and unparalleled gay themed series just like it. Finally my prayers had been answered and here was Looking. Even more exciting, the characters were in my age range so it should be easy to relate to them. A gay show for my generation! So exciting!

looking_main_characters

Photo compliments of Huffington Post

First Impressions: Does Length Matter?

I eagerly awaited the series premiere and on that wondrous night my expectations were pretty high. I was ‘schoolboy excited’ and way too smiley as I sat down to watch the pilot. Then as the credits rolled at the end of this first episode, I found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop. Was that it? I felt underwhelmed.

My initial thoughts were confounded. The episode seemed so short. It was like a tiny amuse-bouche before the actual meal. When were they serving the main course? The episode had zoomed by feeling like way less than 30 minutes. I felt cheated. I barely got a taste for the characters or a mood of the show.

Earlier I mentioned Sex and the City for a reason. Was I unfairly expecting Looking to be the gay version of SATC? Each SATC episode always felt very lengthy to me. They were all neatly organized by Carrie Bradshaw’s comforting narrative. Looking simply jumped from one character to another, with no background music to set a mood in any scene (unless if it was naturally playing at a location), and offered no synopsis or moral conclusion to sum up the episode. We are left with hardly any words at the end and then credits and music. It’s almost like, “WTF? It’s over already? I have no idea how I feel about what I just saw.” But if we really pay attention, Gentle Reader, perhaps not knowing how we feel at the end, and being forced to contemplate, is our real reward.

Regardless of my initially underwhelmed feelings, I always expected that I would watch every episode of this first season. But, by the end of episode three I found myself wondering, “Do I even like these characters?” Dom, played by Murray Bartlett, seemed boring and unrelatable to me. Agustín, portrayed by Frankie J. Alvarez, was rude, antagonizing, and constantly acted irritated with everyone else.  Even Patrick, our main character brought to life by the handsome Jonathan Groff, seemed too childish, too awkward, and a little too clueless. I began asking myself, “Do I care about where these characters’ story plots are heading?”

Patrick_Richie_date

Photo Compliments of NewNowNext.com

Episode 5: My Interest is Piqued

Then suddenly, along comes episode 5 titled “Looking for the Future”, and now I have officially climbed aboard the ‘Looking train’. Way back in episode 1 we are introduced to a love interest for Patrick named Richie. He disappeared after episode 2 and seemed to be out of the picture. But now he has thankfully resurfaced. Episode 5 focused solely on Patrick and Richie. This entire episode followed them around San Francisco as they spent a full day together simply talking and getting to know one another. The dialogue is comforting and relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time on their date. It is important to note that this episode was written by Andrew Haigh (writer and director of the above mentioned Weekend) which explains why the dialogue is so realistic and natural.

I love the character of Richie, played by Raúl Castillo. First off, I find his demeanor, way of talking, and physicality very attractive. He is kind, thoughtful, compassionate and funny. He knows who he is and has a confidence about him. I’m so glad he is back in Patrick’s life. In my opinion, he makes Patrick more interesting. He helps to calm Patrick down a little. Richie is the kind of personality I need in my life. I wish I was dating him.  I hope their relationship grows and lasts.

Also, Episode 5 completely rectified the character of Patrick for me. In this episode I finally started to relate to him and I realized that, in many ways, I am Patrick. I too am afraid of silences when I’m on a date. I too push way too much with never ending questions when I’m nervously trying to get to know someone. I too suffer from some level of bottom shame, and I too get tested way too often for STDs even though I hardly ever have hookups.  I too sometimes use awkward joking and excessive rambling to cover up feeling nervous and insecure. And I also worry too much and am too scared of the future. So just like that, I’ve decided that I like Patrick and I’m interested in seeing where his journey heads.

group_bus

Photo compliments of broadwayworld.com

‘Looking’ Forward with Hope

I’m glad to be heading into season one’s final 3 episodes with an increased confidence in the series. In fact, I’m sad that there are only 3 episodes left. There is no word yet on whether HBO is renewing Looking for a second season. My schoolboy excitement is beginning to ignite again, and I really hope that HBO takes a chance on a this show for a second run.

If you have not yet watched Looking, I recommend it. Despite the show’s slow start, I think it holds a lot of truth within it’s stories and, if given enough time, I think we will all find more of ourselves within each of its characters. I expect Dom and Agustín to become more likable as I learn to understand them better. Looking’s creators say that the show should be relatable for non gay viewers as well because, first and foremost, it is a show about love.  And we all understand and enjoy watching shows about love and relationships, right? I can agree with that. But, I must say, I’m still really glad to finally have a show where I know the characters are gay and dealing with the same topics I am as I navigate this gay ocean that is my life.

I think the show has the promise to become something really special. There is a subtlety to it that makes it very honest. There are gentle moments of silence and sincere glances shared between characters, and these things are rare to find on the loud and attention deficit world of television today. I’m still learning who I am, and as I watch the show I get glimpses of who I want to be as a proud gay man. It is never a bad thing when a television show can help us realize more of who we want to be. Lord knows we can all use as much help as we can get. And maybe these new TV friends of ours can offer us support in our ‘looking’ for ourselves.

patrick_richie_kiss

Photo compliments of Huffington Post

Side Note: Episode 5 draws references to the movie The Goonies and the television show Friends. I appreciated these reflections as they were each a huge part of my growing up.
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For anyone interested in learning more about Looking, here are some relevant links…
Looking‘s IMDB Page
HBO & Looking‘s YouTube Page
Catching Up With Raúl Castillo, Looking‘s Richie
Jonathan Groff, Looking Star, Responds to Claims that the show is Boring