Looking Recap: Inept Hookups, Not Just For Straight People Anymore
So last week an Esquire writer really stepped deep into some inept straight man shit while reviewing the premiere of HBO’s new gay man dramedy “Looking.” And perhaps that’s because yes, the show is about three gay best friends looking for love, but it’s really not so different than any three best friends looking for love, and that is why it works.
There’s no “mincing,” as the Esquire writer lamented. Instead there are awkward, thwarted hookups, real life angst and domesticity. And maybe that’s the problem for Esquire dude.
Maybe he holds on to the fantasy that if he were gay he wouldn’t have to deal with the sort of crap women bring to the table, that it would just be fun and constant getting it on. So we get the disappointment, we suppose. Sorry being gay isn’t all you imagined it to be, dude. OK, on with the recap.
Patrick’s (Jonathan Groff) two best friends, the grayer, more experienced Dom (Murray Bartlett) and the saucy, love-struck Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez), are once again seen together at the start of “Looking,” pitching in to help schlump boxes across the bridge to Oakland to Agustin’s new love shack with his boyfriend Frank (O.T. Fagbenle).
But the convo isn’t so much about Agustin and Frank moving in but about Patrick’s potentially uncircumcised Latin lover. “You should at least try to blow him this time,” Agustin says, taking a jab at Patrick’s straight-laced tendencies.
“Maybe I just want to get myself a fuck buddy,” Patrick says, trying to shock his pals. Instead, he’s met with smarmy jabbing because, of course, Patrick isn’t the kind of guy who gets himself a casual sexual liason, particularly one from the other side of the tracks. Unfortunately he doesn’t have experience on his side yet and will continue to get himself into these horribly awkward situations for us to watch.
“This entire city is overrun with overpriced cupcakes and kimchi tacos,” Agustin says, convincing himself of his love for his newfound domesticity with Frank in Oakland. They head over the bridge in Dom’s Volvo, which leads into talk about the difference between intimacy and sex and how that works into the politics of threesomes with strangers and/or a loved one.
People usually cheat, Agustin reasons, so why not work it into the relationship instead. “Guys are guys,” he adds pragmatically. He’s open to figuring out the boundaries and rules within their committed relationship in contrast to their own parents’ failed attempts, which were filled with infidelity and anger. Uh huh. Let us know how that works out.
Then it’s the big moment when Agustin and Patrick say their temporary, slightly mushy goodbyes littered with a heartwarming quoting of the lyrics from the “Golden Girls” theme song. As they drive away, Dom and Patrick makes bets on how many months it’ll last, like the catty bitches they are.
“When it all turns to shit, I’m not moving that fucker again,” Dom says only half-joking. “I’m way too old.”
Dom seems a little more pissy than usual, Patrick observes. We find out later what that’s all about.
Next we see Dom ordering coffee, “a drip,” as his ex Ethan (Derek Ray) up walks up to meet him. Dressed like an extra from Miami Vice, he lets Dom know he doesn’t do coffee anymore (and apparently doesn’t take his sunglasses off inside). “You haven’t changed,” he tells Dom, which clearly isn’t a compliment in light of his own douchebag transformation into a high-falutin’ real estate agent making good on the economic upturn in the city.
Then he goes off about business being good, the real estate recovery and then admits to the past and how he fucked things up. “I’ve been thinking about you for a long time,” Ethan starts out, followed by a big, self-serving sigh. “Here it goes. I am so sorry that I made your life a whole sack of shit and I’m sorry I took advantage of you and treated you like an asshole.”
He’s grown, he’s a better person now and wants to start again, Ethan says, and we see the second of hope that spreads across Dom’s face as he thinks that maybe Ethan has actually changed … “as friends.” And then, after another sigh, he says, “I think that went really well.” It was all scripted, even the emotion. He is disgusting.
“So what are you up to now?” he asks Dom. Silence.
Back in Oakland, Frank is being sentimental and cute, wanting to hang up one of aspiring artist Agustin’s early, horrible paintings of a unicorn and a naked dude.
Back at homes alone, Patrick is bored and starts looking up pictures of uncut Latino men, and Dom looks on his smartphone for a Grindr hookup.
What did gay dudes do before the Internet? And just like that, a horny guy shows up at his door for sex. See, I always suspected it was that easy for gay guys, too.
Then we see some sex.
Then we see Patrick meet up with his potential fuck buddy Richie (Raúl Castillo) at a dive bar in his neighborhood and awkward convo ensues. Patrick tries out some new moves, reaching out to touch his necklace, which has Jesus and Mary on it, which is not sexy at all. But Patrick keeps trying to loosen up and carry on putting on said moves.
Then he makes the move, asks Richie to go to his place, and gets shut down. He’s trying to make the whole thing cheap, but Richie isn’t going to make it that easy, suggesting they go to another location that serves drinks and dancing.
Back at Dom and his hilarious roommate Doris’ (Lauren Weedman) place, they get a free concert while the horny dude takes a post-coital shower. “What did you do to him?” she asks, before busting up laughing. “Did you fuck the pain away with the cast of Wicked? Is there a flying monkey boy in my shower? Oh my God, I love him.”
But they have better things to dish about: The meet up with horrible, horrible Ethan. “I so wish I could have been there so I could have neck punched him,” she says. Then she offers a second neck punch because he ordered a Refresh at Starbucks.
So not only did he get wrangled into ordering the obnoxious drink for Ethan, which he realizes at that moment put him right back into That Place in the relationship, but that he paid for it all, including Ethan’s pretentious protein bars.
“Did you ask for the money back?” Doris gets straight to the point. No. We see that not only is the guy an asshole, he owes money to Dom and now that he’s living the high life it didn’t even dawn on him to pay down-on-his-luck Dom back. Ouch.
Back to Richie and Patrick. Patrick tries to explain to Richie drunkenly that he is not the uptight dude from Colorado they think he is. He wants to dance drunkenly to Erasure! He wants to have sex in the toilet! These are all things that are fine to think, but Patrick forgets to turn off the ol’ internal monologue and treat Richie like a human being. If we were Richie, we would have walked out on Patrick right then.
Agustin and Frank talk about whether to go out or stay in, as newly shacked up couples do. Agustin tries to figure out what will make Frank happy and do that, so they stay in.
Patrick takes Richie back to his apartment and in true Patrick fashion, it’s weird. He offers to make macaroni and cheese, Richie turns it down, and they get it on.
Dom meets up with Ethan again at his office. “It’s my turn to talk,” he tells Ethan, shutting that prick down before any more crap dribbles out of his mouth and explaining that he’s thought about him quite a bit over the years. “You don’t deserve any of that time, that I spent thinking of you. I want my $8,000 back, plus 10 years interest and the cost of the protein bars.” He gave him the money to get sober years ago, we learn, and then got the boot in thanks.
“You made that choice,” Ethan says. “You gave it to me. And I am grateful.”
“You really are still an asshole,” Dom says.
“You can’t blame me, you can only blame yourself,” Ethan says before walking away to see his clients waiting across the room.
“He’ll screw you over you know,” he yells their way. “Once a meth head motherfucker always a meth head motherfucker.” Words to live by.
Patrick starts giggling when he goes down on Richie because he’s uncut. And then things get a little more serious, but not for long. Richie starts tripping a little, and then Patrick starts babbling about how his friends made him look at pictures on the Internet of uncut penises to prepare himself, which he did of his own free will.
“Yeah, I’ve got to go,” Richie says. “I think we’re looking for different things.” And there goes Patrick’s fuck buddy for now, as he should. Patrick fixes himself some mac ‘n cheese and calls Agustin to recap.
“Yeah, so, that didn’t go well.” Admittedly, he knows that he acted like a crazy person. “I think I might be a racist, as well.” No, you’re not a racist, just a dumb shit.
Watch Patrick and the guys step in it some more next Sunday, February 2, 10:30 p.m. on HBO, or catch a sneak peek on On Demand of Episode Three.